That Same Old Story.

We were flying to Los Angeles for the celebratory milestone of one of our beloveds, and on the early AM flight I tucked my memory foam neck pillow tight between my shoulder and chin and reached for the plastic window shade to shut it tight against the glinting peach glisten of sunrise.

To shut the shade against the sunrise.

What was I … crazy?!

Here I was nestled in a metal bird, 30,000 feet above home and closer to the sun, and watching her say good morning was, what, just an interruption to my napping?
Racing through the clouds I don’t stop often enough to daydream beneath, I honestly considered not staring out the window to jaw-drop at what was above and below me.

How was I willing to miss this?

Have my maybe fifty-something flights numbed me to the miracle of watching morning annouce her arrival in hot hues of pink and gold?

Well, I pushed the shade back up and knocked enough sense into my sleepy state of mind to watch in wonder.

That little moment of my own almost loss hasn’t been lost on me.
Experiencing too much grand, too much sweet, too much good, has gotten me a little blind.

There is nothing spectacular about this season.
Or is there everything spectacular about this season?

In pain we see God, we BEG for the good.  We promise to not miss it, we almost can’t miss it. And in the good we tend to not only not see God, but do we even see the good?

In the chapter before this one, the one fat with a bloody mess of broken hearts and broken idols, He sat with me on porch swings and grassy corners and in cramped conversations and under dark nights of winter and of the soul and I saw His actions and interactions, His divine appointments and His provision. I was so sensitized and aware, so blisteringly aware, of His sometimes breeze and His mostly boldness in meeting me. I couldn’t miss it.

And as the stitches were sown and then unraveled and as the scars have started to heal, I wonder… are callouses growing in their place?
Is the goodness and the grace and the solace that I begged for being met with a “yea, well, you owed me” or “it’s about time” attitude?

Or even worse… as the hope is starting to rise, am I reaching an arm out to shut the shade?
Has the beauty of new beginnings already lost it’s luster?

In the first chapter of James we are met with the message that it’ s troubles in our lives that should most stir up joy in our hearts.
But we want to trade those troubles for a bout of easy and a few rounds of happy… don’t we?

So we miss the joy when it’s hard and we miss the joy when it’s happy.

HOW DO WE START SOPPING UP THE JOY? SOAKING IN THE KIND OF GOOD THAT HAS ETERNITY STAMPED ALL OVER IT?

I want to be the kind of Christian who, no matter the plain or extravagant details of her life, is living anything but that same old story.
I want to live in a story full of His bright beautiful goodness, and I believe I am, but having closed my eyes and tipped my head down until the next action scene or climactic plot line, I’m missing it.
It’s me. 
I’m the reason I’m missing the joy in the everywhere.
I’m the reason I’m living the same old story.


And I don’t think there’s a secret equation or pinterest-found recipe for starting the same days with a new heart to find the joy, I think it’s the addages of old.
It’s stopping to smell the roses, or in my case, the sunflowers or the carton of strawberries or the sweet scent of my best friend’s baby girl.
It’s talking to a God, listening to a God, looking for a God, that is the grandest artist and greatest storyteller.
It’s loving in tight, inconvenient, almost-always-humbling hew ways that grate against your clock and your pocketbook and your desires.

I have to say that there’s the tendency to watch the joy written loudly and in big loopy cursive in other people’s lives and miss the whispers or lowercase letters written in our own.

It’s hard to tell someone, or tell ourselves, if the stick we peed on pops up negative or the bank account does, that there’s joy to be had.

But that’s what James was (is!) saying.


Yes! I want to start looking for the great wrapped up inside the GOOD of bearhugs and obvious blessings, but I want to hear my story- hard or soft, safe or scary, being read by God’s good narrating voice, filled with exclamation points and a smile even in the sentences spent at the market or stuck in the murk.  I don’t want the devil to drone out my existence in sentence after sentence dripping with disappointment.

He wants to stuff me inside a same-old-story. And, frankly, whether I ever get married or move off 12th street, I don’t want to give him the satisfaction of letting that become my truth.

So when I lifted the hem of my dress off the floor and danced in the aisles and raised my arms to twirl and smile at the shake of every bead on my turquoise bracelets, singing along at a raucous rock concert last week… I felt the pen loop words of joy in this story of new, when I felt genuine blessing in my heart after a handicapped fast food worker hobbled out to the curb to hand me a very hot chicken sandwich and said “God Bless you ma’am” with the sunniest of smiles, when the man I love held me and prayed with me on the sidewalk outside of church as we fought through pride and fear to the other side where sweet peace and hope waited in the gracious gifting hands of our God… well, it could’ve just been music. just been lunch. just been Sunday.

But it wasn’t.

Because whether standing in a paragraph of obvious joy or fought-for-joy, we have to peel open our eyes and pull up the shade, we have to hang on to the wild pen that sometimes writes small words when we want big ones, and flip forward when given the option of this Choose Your Own Adventure paperback in our hands, and trust the Author.  We have to start praying for the heart of James in the tough & tear-filled and the heart to see our good God in the little & lovely.  We have to LIVE…

So let’s go catch lightning bugs and catch each other’s punchlines, hold tight to hope and to friends, and let’s not miss it.

The good inside the great.
The JOY inside the NOW.
BECAUSE IT IS THERE.

 

Let’s go live anything but that same old story.


plane sunrise

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One Response

  1. This is beautiful. Glad you’re writing 🙂

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