That’s how you start a story. Did you know? What if? It’s such a simple theory, yet so often hard to grasp. Because there are a million what-ifs, and how do you know which one fits? How do you know which one is just right, for you? Sometimes you don’t. Sometimes the story chooses you. Sometimes it wasn’t the one you wanted to write, yet here you are, stuck in the middle and you have no idea what’s coming next or even worse, how it’s all going to end.
There is audacious beauty in the question. At least I think so. Because there are a million answers … and the thing of it is … the best thing of all? We get to choose. We, the author, get to choose whether Character A ends up with Character B or Character C lives or dies or whether it will all turn out okay in the end. We plot and weave words and finally … however long it takes … we finally sit back and declare that it is good. It is exactly how it was supposed to be. And sometimes you share it, that story. Sometimes you don’t. And that’s okay too.
… Life isn’t a story you can write? Hmm. But sometimes it is. I mean, think about it. Don’t we all exert control over our destinies in some way shape or form? Yes, I believe there is a grand plan and I believe God is in control of that. But I also believe we have choices. And sometimes we make bad ones.
What if you’re so busy running your life, plotting every single detail, making multiple pass throughs to check for grammatical error, plot holes and sentence structure … what if you’re so caught up in making the thing perfect, that somewhere along the way, you realize you’ve forgotten how to just live … what if?
What if, today, what if, right now, you made a choice. What if you chose to live this thing out, intentionally, with purpose, no matter what … what would that look like? Maybe you know. Maybe you’re already doing it. Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who has it all together and leads the way, tossing rainbow skittles and teddy bears and flying on a unicorn.
You can get down now.
Because I’ll tell you what. I don’t know anybody like that. I’ve met a few folk who put on a good show, but you know somehow that there’s a crack in the porcelain somewhere, and one day, maybe soon maybe not, but one day that pretty mask is going to fall right off their face.
Ask me how I know.
What if? What if we chose to take off the mask and just be real? Today. Right now. Before you even step out the door.
What if I don’t know who I am anymore?
I can say that now. I can write it out and stare at it and nod, (oh look, dry eyes. There’s a miracle.), but … I know. I know the pain in the question. Sometimes life catches up to you and slams you against the wall and holds up the mirror. And you have to answer the question, but you just … don’t know. It’s okay. I know the cycle … the putting things in the wash time and time again, hoping they’ll come out clean eventually, but you know they never will so you fold them just so and hope nobody sees the stains. I know.
What if? What if you just choose to accept the fact that you’re not perfect, never will be and just …
Love yourself, love others. And maybe somehow see yourself through their eyes. Through the ones that see the stains, know where they came from and love you anyway … what kind of freedom could you find in simply letting love in?
Yeah. Settle on that one awhile.
Because sometimes you can’t change the story. Sometimes things happen that you can’t control, can’t rewrite or even erase, no matter how many tears you cry over it. Sometimes those hard things, those long nights, those days and weeks and months of excruciating silence when nobody knows what to say or do next and you’re just waiting for the moment somebody trips the wire and the hidden hand-grenade goes off … tragic as it is, sometimes that is your story.
What if … you finally accept that and choose to move beyond it?
Because you have to start somewhere. And what if one step is all you can take, today … well, that’s okay. Take the next one tomorrow. You’ll get there. And if you’re like me, you’ll look around and see the miracle in it all. You’ll see you’re not alone. There are others here too, simply struggling, putting one foot in front of the other, but choosing to live, choosing to move forward. Choosing forgiveness over bitterness. Choosing … accepting … grace.
Couldn’t we all use a little more of that?
I could. Because some days I’m my own worst enemy. I know all my buttons and I push them well. But finally it happens. Finally I wake up to the weariness of soul and mind and body and I fling open the curtains and let the light in. Because I know, you see, I know this isn’t how it’s supposed to be. I know I still have a choice. You do too, even though you may not feel that right now, you do.
Sometimes you just need a reminder. I look at photographs. That’s how I remember. If you want to know who I really am, what really makes me happy, you can see it in my Cover Photos on Facebook. I’m pretty transparent. I realized that this morning. Sitting here in the midst of a million what-ifs. That’s who I am. This is what I love. My family, my friends, God’s astoundingly beautiful creations every time I turn around … what if … what if I miss that?
God, help me not to miss that.
So what if you choose today, to hang on, to keep going, to live? Oh, I hope you do. I hope you’ll reach out to the closest hand that’s waiting to grip yours tight. And I hope you put that foot forward. Take the first step.
Because … what if …
What if you don’t?