You should know, I am a die-hard GWTW fan. I’ve lost track now exactly how many times I’ve watched the movie. But I have read the book only once. I’m thinking I need to rectify that.
The GWTW experience for me began as a lonely and homesick thirteen-year old wandering the musty maze of books housed in the library at my boarding school in the south of England. It was there I was introduced to Austin and Dickens and Tolkien, and eventually stumbled upon what had to be the biggest book my hands had ever held. Gone With The Wind.
As I approached our librarian, a fussy little man whose name escapes me, I felt as though I’d discovered the Holy Grail. He was not as impressed. “Are you sure?”
I remember those words today as though they were just uttered. The insinuation behind them still smarts. I was too young. The book was long. I would never get through it, let alone understand it.
But I did. I read it cover to cover, every spare moment I had, and devoured every word. And Scarlett O’Hara was forever emblazoned in my heart as Margaret Mitchell was in my head, and I knew then, though perhaps I didn’t quite realize it, what I wanted to be when I grew up.
Someone who never gives up.
Say what you will about Scarlett, Melanie fans, but you’ve got to give her this. She’s tenacious to a fault, yet she always gets what she wants. Well, perhaps not always. She didn’t end up with Ashley or Rhett, although I do take some license with the ending and envision her eventually reuniting with Rhett once she has finally grown into the woman he always knew she could be. But through every hardship and set back, she got back up.
And oh, that’s hard. Ask me how I know.
It’s hard because so much is unknown. Once you’ve failed, what else is there? Once you’ve lost your dream, had it even and watched it slip away, perhaps through no fault of your own, do you keep trying? Can you?
Some days my answer is no. No, I can’t and I don’t want to. Because it’s too hard. And honestly, sometimes it seems pointless. How many times, Lord? How many times?
As many as it takes.
That’s it. That’s the answer I keep hearing again and again, every time life takes an unexpected turn. Every time I want to give it all up because I’ve convinced myself I can’t go any further.
I’ve had a hard month. I lost a lovely friend a few weeks ago. Her death was unexpected and blindsided the writing community she was so much a part of.
My friend Sandie Bricker knew all about getting back up. She did it time and time again and held out a hand to lift others up right along with her. She was full of fun and light and laughter and loved harder than most. She was a true champion and she loved Jesus. Those of us who knew and loved her take comfort in knowing that. But the loss is real. And hard. And we will need time.
As I pondered some things yesterday, this feeling of not knowing what’s next and how it can too easily incapacitate me, I received three very clear messages. Two were from friends who really didn’t have a clue what I’ve been thinking these past weeks, how helpless I’ve been feeling, yet their words reminded me again that God is in control, just as He always has been. And last night, as I was scrolling through the long message thread between Sandie and I that started in 2011, I found this word from my friend.
“It won’t help right now. But later when you look back on this conversation and how you’re feeling, you’ll think I’m a genius. Ready for it? … God has a plan for you. You don’t need to figure it out or know the details. All you need to do is put your gift to work for him, throw it at the wall and let him figure out which one will stick.”
Oh. Okay then. I’ll be honest, I’m still wiping tears when I read her words.
How I needed that yesterday. How I need this today. And everyday. Because life. Life is just hard sometimes. And I will fall. I will fail and I will wallow. And each day that happens, I will need to find the strength to get back up. I don’t have it. But He does.
And thank God. Thank God for that. Thank God for His strength and His grace and His love. Thank God for friends like Sandie. Friends who don’t let you stay down, friends who insist you get back up even if they have to kick your butt to get you to move. I am so blessed to have friends like that in my life. I was blessed to have her.
And today I think of you, my friends who don’t let me stay down. I thank you. I need you.
We’re in this together.