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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Leon

When you Struggle with your Story

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work among you will complete it by the day of Christ Jesus. - Philippians 1:6

hope, story, faith

Which of my stories will I let define me?

The heart-broken child? Forgotten victim? Discarded wife? Grieving mother? What about successful student? Creative musician? Heart-felt writer? Beloved bride? My life has been a sequence of triumphs and disappointments, but for many seasons, I felt defined by brokenness. The heaviness of my stories of heartache and harm weighed me down.

I have worked hard over the last decade to change my perspective --- or more accurately, God has been at work in me changing the way I view the events of my life. My healing journey led me to share the freedom I found in learning to let myself be loved. This truth is a daily reminder that the defining story of my life is a glorious love story written by the hand of God.

Every compelling story, including my own, including yours, has an arc that spans from innocence through tragedy to redemption. When we are young, we can barely imagine the terrain the story of our life will traverse. We can't tear pages out of our story, however, so we are challenged when the plot twists disappointingly. If I ignore my pain, I remain in a bland story, shallow and tepid and afraid to risk authenticity, honesty, and vulnerability. If I focus only on my suffering, I miss the brilliant beauty buried within my darkest days, a beauty that compels me through sorrow to restoration and joy. If I withdraw into self-pity, I neglect the intimacy, companionship, and love offered by those who accompany me.

I had to untangle a whole mess of lies (read more about that here!) to get to the point where I could accept the chapters of my life and live with my heart wide-open. It is hard to surrender my desire to control or predict the end of my story. I first had to trust that God was good all the time, and that He was using every story of my life to re-proclaim goodness over me as His beloved daughter. This is brave, holy work that asks me not only to empty my hands of my own plans, but to leave them open while I wait in hope for those of the Lord.

It takes heroic faith some days to remember that every moment of every day is etched deeply with God's love for me. Every chapter of my story is an opportunity to be found by Love. In the light of grace, each of our stories is a sharing in the eternal story of heartbreak and redemption; my wounds a sharing in the sufferings of Christ and my joys, a taste of our Eternal reward.

It is not easy. I fear these words, while holy and true, do little to honor the hero’s journey we must each make from the Shire to Mount Doom, from Tatooine to the Death Star, from the Garden to Calvary. There is no denying the suffering and sacrifice required, but our God is so faithful and we are promised that His story paved the way for ours. Resurrection and redemption are always written in our lives, in His time and in His way. I choose to let that be the story that defines me.

Take heart wherever you are in your journey with the Lord, in whatever chapter He is writing in your life. If it is a season of joy and beauty, I rejoice with you. If it is a chapter of heartache and disappointment, please know you are not alone and this is not the last chapter. If you are angry with or estranged from God, that is fine too. Tell Him all about it.

It is a great comfort that none of the crazy events in our lives get to have the last word. They are not our defining narrative. Will you hope with me? Hold faith with me? The Lord is on the move and will bring His good work in our lives to completion. And while I can't read ahead, I can be sure my story and yours will have His perfect ending. Let yourself be loved.

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