in order to live an epic life, you're gonna face conflict... i say this to my tutorial students and try to ignore their yawns of boredom and indiscreet glances towards their phones. i press on, continuing the lesson, stressing the importance of realizing story within one's own life before looking around for others.
i press on because i need a reminder. these past few months carried more than their weight of conflict, and on the tail end of just catching my breath, i need to be reminded of purpose, of a story weaving its tapestry throughout my life - regardless of whether or not i remember or buy into it.
i ask the kids to write down goals for their lives this next year - promising the connection between story and three-act structure to what they want to accomplish. as they scribble short notes on a piece of paper, i think of my own.
- finish my manuscript. pursue publication.
- draw concrete plans for my dream of writers' workshops within high schools - flesh it out and begin putting action to my thoughts
- pay off debt
- find true community - embrace authenticity and brokenness
- gain serious ground in pursuit of adoption/foster-care
and as i look at this list, i begin to shrink away from the discomfort. i realize the leaps of faith needed for some of these to happen, and for a few split seconds, i even consider erasing and replacing with something attainable. something safe.
and then i remember: in order to live an epic life, you're gonna face conflict.
i wonder how many times we shrink way from God's master storyline simply because our discomfort makes us wince?
i wonder how many times i've hidden from his glory radiating from my life simply because i didn't want to take the risk?
i don't think our lives were meant to be safe. there's comfort in knowing and realizing the sovereignty of Christ, through the fellowship of suffering we are pruned and purified to look more like him. through conflict our eyes are focused on the One True Sustainer - and the results are far more beautiful than if we tried on our own.
the other night, russ and i were in the middle of a deep discussion and he tilted his head and asked, "i wonder why so many people try to run from conflict - or when they find themselves in the middle of it, they try to immediately fix it. it's through conflict some of the most beautiful gems are created - and after a diamond has been purified, no one wants it to return to where it was as a piece of coal."
yes. there's beauty in brokenness. hurt and pain, albeit difficult to wade through, produces character. and conflict, whether from outside forces or from within, produces understanding. restoration, although beneficial, does not always set things perfectly straight. the scars are there for a reason. the markings are there to remember.
"what do characters have to experience in order to live an epic life?" i ask the students at the end of class.
"conflict." a small voice answers. his paper is empty. he has no goals.
"right." i respond, trying not to focus too long on his rigidity. i look at him again and ask, "so what do you think you will experience if you want to live an epic life?"
he raises an eyebrow and pushes the eraser against the desk - avoiding my gaze.
"conflict." he says. he still hasn't looked me in the eye.
i close my eyes for a brief second and say a silent prayer that somewhere, somehow, this boy will understand the importance of his story - the story within him written by a brilliantly creative Author - the story begging to be released.
and then i pray for myself. that i would remember there's a story inside of me begging to be released. a story including pain and hurt and conflict and awkwardness but resulting in beauty and risk and adventure. a story of hope.