Almost two years ago, I wanted to change my story.
The narrative had somehow become twisted, full of characters and voices that were not right. I felt lost, not just geographically (I had just moved to Nashville), but spiritually and emotionally. After months and months of being a footnote in the story of my own life, the plot was becoming one of despair and loneliness. I decided that I wanted to tell the world another story.
I wanted it to be full of hope, of love, of faith in something greater than myself or my circumstances. I no longer wanted to let someone else be in the driver’s seat, unless that someone was The One. The great author, Himself.
Those years? They were one chapter of my life. A chapter full of growth and challenge. A chapter meant to move the plot along, not define it. A learning chapter.
When faced with learning chapters, I believe there are more-or-less two choices. Be deliberate or be in denial. Being deliberate means sitting in the chapter, experiencing each page in its own time, and not rushing to find an ending. Being in denial means skipping over the lesson, fooling ourselves into thinking we can enjoy the benefits of wisdom without experience.
It took time for me to realize that I never want to deny when I have the chance to learn.
That chapter of my life taught me many things, including that changing my story meant redefining my definition of victory. Victory wasn’t saving a relationship that I thought was my world. My victory meant letting go, walking away, and finding a relationship that saved the world. A relationship that changed the hopelessness to faithfulness, that replaced the insecurity with self-love, and that drove out fear with immense, all-consuming gratitude. A saving grace.
Now, looking back, I celebrate that chapter. It happened exactly as it should have, right on time. It was neither longer or shorter than it needed to be. That chapter didn’t subtract from my story, but made it more complex, more detailed. Without it, I don’t know for certain that I’d have the strength to face whatever learning chapter comes next. I am better for it.
I’m still human. I still try to navigate life with more questions than answers, but I no longer let my story be defined by others’ directions. I define my narrative, and I choose to have it be full of the kind of love I once looked for in all the wrong places. Perfection doesn’t interest me, but the journey does. For me, His lesson is my reward.
I now live the story I want to tell. I choose better characters to let into my life, ones who fill the pages with happiness and adventure. I have a stronger purpose, Someone that makes my heart come alive every single morning. I refuse to let loss or defeat change my direction, because I know that the story I’m telling has an infinitely victorious ending. I punctuate the moments of my story with more exclamation points, and less question marks.
My story is full of learning chapters. And because of that, it’s full of celebration.