I think it’s fair to assume that because I have been so open and honest with you about the many negatives in my new life, that I think you will allow me to pat myself on the back just this once!
I mean, I did go as far to admit to you that I puked in a mixing bowl…
Anywho back to my point.
Some of our greatest accomplishments and feats, are often things my husband and I have done together. Even some of our most mundane daily tasks are made better when done together.
Like in the upkeep of our home. He took care of the outside of the house, while I took care of the inside.
When entertaining guests, I was in charge of making the meal and cleaning the house, while he was in charge of lighting the candles and later, making the witty remarks and sharing humorous stories while passing the peas. Once the night was through and the goodbyes were said, we would always end the night doing the dishes together.
Even once we had our first child -in what we were warned would be the dreaded ‘newborn stage’ that threatens to steal your joy, and transform your weary state into that of a zombie- we found it be anything but!
(I know, I know, you hate me now… but for us it was true!)
We took turns getting up and feeding our daughter throughout the night but would often find that although it only took one person to do the job, we would both end up getting up together.
It often times felt like a sleepover! An excuse to stay up late, and an almost giddiness that came out of not wanting to be asleep for fear of something awesome happening that we might be left out of!
People would ask us how we were doing… you know the way they do when they are almost implying you are doing terrible! Only to end their question with a lingering look of pity to heighten the implications of the awfulness they were so sure we felt.
Everyone was always astonished when our response was, “We are doing great!”
And we really were doing great! Not because we had a perfect marriage, because on the contrary, we can bicker like nobody’s business, and I occasionally have to talk myself down from changing the locks when I find him leaving dirty q-tips around the house! And its most definitely not because I was a natural ‘super mom’ because I still often find myself having no idea what I am doing even to this day!
It was because we were in it together. We were always such a great team no matter what life threw at us!
I reminisce about these past moments, because these days, I know more about what its like doing things alone.
With my husband’s new 6 day work weeks and often late hours, I have an entirely different reality of quiet meals alone just me a Gia, and errands that need to get done whether my husband is home to lend a hand or not. (Remember: ‘extra hands’ have a whole new value when you don’t have a car, and both your groceries and 26lb. toddler have to be brought up to a second floor apartment!)
And it’s true, I could very well wait for him to get home and take down the trash… I could even wait for him to make us some new friends… and wait for him to get home till I venture out, that way I don’t have to risk getting lost in this scary big city by myself.
But that would indeed be a lot of waiting, and waiting doesn’t make for living a good story!
Donald Miller’s whole premise is that life is best lived when it tells a Good Story… That, in fact, God has created us to live Good Stories -Stories that are filled with meaning, discovery, and purpose.
But, as we all know, in any Good Story there is always some sort of conflict -conflict that seeks to deter, discourage, and even destroy.
But what makes a Good Story “good” -just like in life- is when a character experiences major conflict and chooses to overcome it with courage!
Miller reveals how a new life can emerge from even some of our most boring realities, and transform into a “meaningful narrative”! And he ultimately compels his readers to live a life worthy of a good story.
All I can say is, that book messed us up!
After we both had savored the words of each page of this book; high lighting each meaningful phrase and scribbling thoughts into the margin as we searched for its significance as it related to our own lives, we found ourselves no longer content just watching reruns of Dateline NBC, or walking the aisles of Kohl’s on rainy weeknights where you could easily make the excuse that there was “nothing better to do”. We also no longer saw the purpose partaking in shallow friendships that only selfishly satisfied nothing but the most shallow parts in ourselves.
We wanted something more! We wanted to laugh harder, and love others in a way that made us cry more often. We wanted to embrace God as the master story teller of our lives! And that meant embracing every PERSON that God placed in our path, every TRIAL, and every MOMENT as a chance to live life so fully that it would be almost contagious to others!
I would be lying however, if I told you that after making that decision, that it has been roses every day since! Too often I have found myself playfully smacking my husband and mumbling under my breath, “See what happens when you want to live a good story…”
Or once, when I got this random idea that I wanted to replace the front door of our house with one a little more contemporary, I remember my husband jokingly responding “yeah! lets save all our extra spending money for the next few months so that we can replace a perfectly good door! That would reeeeeeally make for a FASCINATING story!”
The reality of making a decision to live a good story was that it couldn’t help but to permeate every single area of our life- even down to how our extra money would be spent! And after making fun of me endlessly, he encouraged that maybe we could use that money towards a vacation of some sort.
Ironically, that same money I was going to use for my beloved door, we ended up using for my first trip out to New York City that summer!
Years later we have found ourselves living in that exact same place that we had visited years ago. And I have recently wondered if we would still be embarking on this journey -that is far bigger than our small town roots ever prepared us for- if it wasn’t for that initial decision to live a good story that we made as a family years ago!
I have wondered also, if in this new life that I am living, if I have the courage to live in that same way Sunday-Friday when it means I have to do it all by myself.
Sometimes I feel like the odds are against me:
It’s just too hard to raise a family in NYC…
I feel like I am living in a foreign country…
With all the time I’m spending with her, I’m going to mess my daughter up:)
There is just SO much to learn…
I can’t possibly do this by myself…
But then I always think back to a story that I once heard a pastor by the name of Perry Noble tell.
While visiting Atlanta, he and his wife decided to go out to dinner. Although it was getting late, afterwards they decided to make the most of their time in the city and decided to venture out and explore the surrounding area before they left the next day. Soon after though, they found themselves in a seedy area that they instantly got the sense they shouldn’t be in.
Interestingly enough they decided to keep walking instead of returning back to the hotel.
The next day Noble was telling a man, born and raised in Atlanta, about the previous night. When he told him where he had gone, the man was shocked that they had kept walking in THAT area!
Noble then surprised the man further by saying that the reason he hadn’t been worried was because his wife had a black belt. He went on to say how surprising it is when you find yourself having the courage to do things others couldn’t imagine themselves doing -not because of your own ability, but because of the confidence you have in the ability of the one you are with!
In Matthew 28:20 The Lord says, “Behold, I am with you always…”
I have had such an immense amount of peace these last couple of weeks, as I rest in the truth that I am indeed, not alone even when I most feel like it! Even better, is that the Lord is the one continually by my side, and He possesses all that I am lacking at any given moment. With His strength, I can do things even I, could never have imagined myself having the courage to do…
Even when it means choosing each and every day to continue to live a good story -even on the days spent apart from my husband!
We must remember that the Lord desires to write a magnificent story in each of our lives! Better than one we could ever write for ourselves! A story of tragic lows and overcoming highs. And like me, a story of new beginnings and sold out abandon to Him -and only Him!
It’s as simple as ’embracing the potential greatness of the story we are actually in’ and learning to trust The Lord in a way that allows for us to let go of the pen just long enough, for him to actually begin writing it.
Who knows, maybe you will find yourself living somewhere crazy like New York City 😉
There is a force in the world that doesn’t want us to live good stories. It doesn’t want us to face our issues, to face our fear, and bring something beautiful into the world. – A Million Miles in a Thousand Years