Getting to the good stuff

As you can tell from some of my earlier blogs, I’m in a season of thinking about my personal life’s conflicts. I was listening to a talk from Leigh McLeroy this morning and was inspired to share these thoughts.

I hate conflict. It’s why I don’t watch much reality TV. It’s basically people I could care less about fighting with each other over petty stuff. Conflict brings tension, awkward moments, stress, discomfort. Who wants that? Why would you choose it? Why would you want an audience to watch while you’re going through it?

I work hard to create a life without conflict or at the very least to minimize it and when I’m in it, I try hard to hide it. But I am beginning to realize just how destructive those behaviors are not to mention completely futile.

Conflict is the plot device that gets us to the good stuff! It’s the only thing that keeps it interesting and keeps it all moving forward! The key is successfully handling conflicts like unwanted challenges, awkward transitions, badly timed interruptions, broken relationships, loss,  and even our own failures NOT successfully avoiding them.

We can look to literature, Hollywood AND the Bible to understand how this works. How’s that for irony? The warm fuzzy, pump your fist in the air or laughing through tears moments always happen on the other side of LOTS of conflict and struggle. That’s true whether you’re talking about The Bourne movies, LOST, To Kill a Mockingbird, Pride and Prejudice or the stories of Joseph, David, Jesus or Paul (all of which fall into my ‘favorites’ categories)!

All my life experience reminds me that the hard stuff brings the good stuff so why is it I still hope to avoid it? Why do I hope to find myself on the other side of the conflict without any aches and pains or scars?

Given the choice, I would choose a prettier and cleaner story but would that be sacrificing an amazing ending? If we live life with the expectation of no change or challenge, isn’t that like saying this is as good as it gets? I’m the best I’m gonna be. Fade to black.

That impulse comes from nothing more than arrogance and pride. The kind of arrogance that enables my control freak tendancies. The kind of extravagant pride that implies my plans are better than the one my Creator had in mind. The kind of unbelievable vanity that assumes I have more invested in my life than my Savior does.

If we are all on a journey to realize the potential we were created to fulfill and accomplish our purpose, then maybe we should embrace the “hard stuff” with unbridled enthusiasm or at least slightly resistant enthusiasm!

Throughout the Bible, angels show up unexpectedly announcing major plot twists. What is it they always say right up front? “Fear Not!” In other words, don’t be afraid because while this story development is unexpected to you . . . it has been in the script from the beginning.

We forget that while we feel like the star of this story, it’s really not about us. It’s about the One who is the author of this story. His plan is to reveal himself through us — through the good, the bad, and the ugly. One of my favorite writers Leigh McLeroy said “When you and I hurting but loving God struggle well, He gets the glory.” Maybe our lives speak louder when we’re living through difficulties rather than through the joys.

In The Beautiful Ache McLeroy shares, “Life hurts. Love hurts. Not everything is settled before we die. Not everyone dies of old age. Faith is not an inoculation against hardship. Christ-followers don’t get passed over by pain.”

If the pain and discomfort are inevitable, how do we walk through them in a real and transparent way that ultimately brings God the glory? We could close our eyes tightly until the scenery changes into something we are more comfortable with or we can chose to believe “not as much in the hoped-for happy outcome as in the ultimate goodness of the Storyteller,” as McLeroy recommends.

I am reminded of the dramatic story of a little girl named Mary who was told to “Fear Not” when she received some life altering news. Her world was about to be turned upside down in what must have seemed the most outrageous way possible. What was her response? “May it be done to me according to your word.” ( Luke 1:38 ) The story of her life was a pretty amazing journey – filled with heartache and great joy, action and adventure. Her simple faith allowed her to play a significant role in the Greatest Story Ever Told!

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