All-American girl grows up in a happy, traditional household with a postcard-perfect childhood. She graduates from high school. Goes to college. Falls in love. Marries the man of her dreams. Has three babies, the career she always dreamed of and lives happily ever after.
I’ve been working on a writing project. And I keep thinking how much easier it would be to write this story if everything had just gone according to plan. Not that I had a Formal Life Plan, but I think all of us imagine how we’d like things to go.
But if things had gone according to plan, I’m not so sure I’d have anything to write about.
“Once upon a time there was girl who lived the exact life she imagined. The end.”
And really, who wants to read about that? Who wants to read about someone’s life going exactly as they thought it would? It’s sort of anti-climatic, isn’t it? Where’s the meaning? The struggle? The bravery? The victory?
Because instead, it went something like this:
All-American girl grows up in a spiritually split household, which leaned heavily on strict Word of Faith and Evangelical beliefs. Lots of struggle ensues. Girl graduates from high school. Goes to college. Gets pregnant. Has a baby. Gets married. Has another baby. Is widowed. Gets remarried. Has another baby. Gets divorced. (Does NOT have another baby). Dates. Struggles to figure out faith and love and relationships. Breaks a few bones. And hearts, along the way– including her own. And THEN…
Then what? What happens next?
You have to admit, the second version makes for a much more interesting story. I want to know what happens! (Ohhhhh I seriously want to know what happens!) I want to know details! I want to know the ins and outs and in-betweens! The first version actually sounds a little BO-RING.
Which on some days would be sweet relief, wouldn’t it?
Overcoming obstacles gives life meaning.
Searching for love. More than once.
Pushing past insecurities.
Finding and losing… and finding… Faith and God.
Discovering and living out your true identity over and over again.
Wrestling with beliefs and traditions and mindsets that have just always been.
Building family and community and an authentic tribe of people you love and who love you back. And who like you, too
These are things that make life, well… alive. These are the things that create a great story. One worth reading about. (And writing about) And as it turns out, they’re also the things that make a great life. Living through the ups and downs of life has a way of reminding us that life is fragile. And special. And magical. And worthwhile.
If we could write our own stories, most of us would leave out the most difficult parts. I know I would. And I think about this for my kids, too. l want life to be easy for them. But it’s not. It won’t be. It isn’t for any of us. But it can still be beautiful. It is still beautiful. I know this now. Easy would not make a better story- or a better life.
An easy life would be absent of the deepest, most beautiful parts.
What has your life been like? Did it go as planned? Was there one HUGE, completely unexpected plot twist in your life? Or a hundred little ones? Tell me, please. I’d love to hear about it.