"Why's that?" I asked.
"Because he gives every good writer something to struggle with and try to work out by writing down. That's genius."
- John Corey Whaley, in Where Things Come Back
I also dreamed of becoming a writer. I composed poems in my head as I dawdled along Hamline Avenue, late for school. I told myself tragic stories about parents abandoning their children as I tossed newspapers between screen doors in the fading sunlight. I devoured every book I deemed worth reading in the school library, and dreamed of the day my own name would be shelved alongside names like Madeline L' Engle and JRR Tolkien.
I don't know how many nights I spent in tears on my knees begging God to not let me have a boring life.
So maybe what happened was my own fault.
Because one thing is certain.
God was listening.
But really-- is anyone's life boring?
I noticed a shocking thing in the Bible the other day, and I haven't been able to get it out of my head ever since. Brace yourself.
Jesus had a hard life.
|Artist Del Parsons|
But He didn't.
He had a hard life.
And so has everyone else who has ever lived on this earth.
And for the first time, the pattern that was obvious all along sunk in. Hard lives serve a purpose. For everyone. Good people and bad. Nice people and mean. People who mess up their own lives with addictions and little girls who pray for tornados. Even, apparently, perfect people.
Hard lives serve a purpose.
And since not everyone becomes authors, the purpose is apparently something beyond giving us something to write about. Although that doesn't hurt.
And since I truly believe that God's purposes are good and kind and not intended to make us miserable, I have to assume that the purpose in life being hard is also good and kind.
My son recently read The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom, and I recently heard an amazing talk (sermon) called Grateful in Any Circumstance, by Dieter F. Uchtdorf-- both of which share a similar idea. We have reasons to be "filled with gratitude" no matter what our circumstances are. It's not about being grateful for something. It's about being grateful in our circumstances. Whatever those are.
Because really, whatever our circumstances are, unless we are actively screwing up our lives ourselves (something I am certain is possible, but generally try to avoid), God put us here. And it might look like hell from where we are standing, but somehow hard lives serve a purpose. For everyone. A purpose that in the end has to be good and kind.
I don't have answers for why girls in Africa get kidnapped, or babies are born addicted to crack, or college students who are going about their day trying to pass exams get shot. I know it looks like hell. I know it feels like hell. I also know the Atonement is real and I've felt its inexplicable healing power in my own life. It's personal. And it's real.
My house never got sucked up by a tornado. But lots of other stuff did happen. And sometimes I feel the Atonement and am nearly overwhelmed with gratitude for the stuff God gave me to struggle with and try to work out by writing down.