A sharply dressed man carrying his briefcase walked hastily toward his gate, armed with a Starbucks coffee cup and an iPhone glued to his ear. An elderly woman sitting nearby a window, watching as a mother soothes her restless, little one. A boy sitting nearby a wall, his cellphone plugged into the outlet, impatiently reassuring a loved one he had arrived at his gate for the seventeenth time. As I wait for my flight back to Gulfport from Atlanta, I sit and observe, whether people are running to and fro about the airport, or sitting patiently for their flight. A plethora of different faces from different places, all going somewhere with purpose. And behind each of these faces is a story, reasons and experiences that make up who they are at that very moment. I want to know their stories. I often wonder if anyone looks at me and wonders the same thing – what’s her story? Why don’t we share our stories more? And what would happen if we did share?
I love understanding, connecting the dots, and making sense of the way things are through our stories. But what’s challenging is when you’re living in the midst of a story where the dots don’t connect. Or perhaps they do, but you don’t know how to connect them yourself. And what if you never understand how to connect them? What if your life is made up of dots and lines that don’t make up the picture you thought they ought to make up? How does faith help dictate your story as you navigate the high points, low points, and all that’s in between? And what does it look like to possibly never understand your story, but be at peace because the author of your story doesn’t just know how to connect those lines and dots, He creates them.
I have an internal battle of fighting to understand and fighting to believe through my lack of understanding. “… I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). And for too long, fear, in the form of anxiety, has taken root, dictating many of my choices from a deep desire to feel safe. I don’t believe fear in itself is bad. We’re reminded in Proverbs 29:25 that “the fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” We can both fear and love the Lord, but what does it look like when we redirect our fear towards something else, or someone else. And what does “safe” actually look like? Perhaps safety in the Lord looks different than how I imagined. Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile in their book “The Road Back To You” explain how anxiety “is more anticipatory: “What if this happened or that happened? What if… What if… What if….” (192). All the things that could go wrong in events that have yet come to pass. I’ve come to realize my life is made up of “what if’s,” both positive possibilities and negative possibilities, and there are certain “what if’s” that I’m choosing to turn into realities, to become a part of my story, even if they feel uncertain, uncomfortable, and unsafe.
With all four kids laying in our beds, my dad would sit in-between the doorway of our bedrooms many years ago as he read through the Chronicles of Narnia series. There is one scene where Susan is nervous about meeting Aslan, the Lion, questioning whether or not he’s safe. Mr. Beaver remarks “Safe?”…”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
‘Course He isn’t safe.
But He’s good.