Recently, I read a book called The Most Important Thing Happening, by Mark Steele, where the characters worked at a publishing company. Throughout the course of the day they realized they were in fact just characters in a story that had already been written for them. They would experience the same day over and over again as the story was read. However, they also observed that they had the ability to move the story along in new ways by learning from their past. They would come to realizations about themselves and others that they had to react to based on this knowledge. They discovered that they were both written and had words and a will of their own. The author wanted them to make decisions that influenced the other characters and would leave hints of this all around. But they were forgetful characters. Their choices were recurrent.
Some characters were deeply effected. One approached the author with this:
All we ask is that we- that we take some of this with us. The ways that we have molded and shaped one another. A hint of the knowledge of you. It doesn't even have to be certainty- it can just be a notion. Something knocking around in the foggiest part of our minds that urges us to behave differently. I understand what you were trying to say now about the difference between seeking an answer and finding one. Finding an answer makes me stop hungering, stop hunting. But, chasing an elusive answer, especially one that feels like it might just be around the corner- it pushes me, shapes me. trusting something that had not been proven to me did more to strengthen the way I was written- much more than knowing for certain ever could have. Trusting you. Please- please- next time, let us- let me- see that sooner.
We are forgetful creatures.
I mess up over and over again with the same silly things. I chase after what doesn't bring peace. I react in the same ways when I'm hurt. I say stupid things. I make dumb choices that seem to just be a part of my make-up.
I choose the lesser story instead of pressing into the foggy unknown of something different.
What if I could just see sooner that this is not how it has to be? This is where I want to live. I know I'm going to screw up and make mistakes, but I'm not bound by how it has always been. Instead, what if I would read the hints that have been dropped along the way that point to One greater and live out of that knowledge, which is greater than all my mistakes, my throwing in of the towel, my giving up out of fear of not measuring up or that anything will actually make a difference anyway. Instead, I would run hard and keep running. Push through the pain. The uncertainty. The what-ifs.
What if we all truly allowed those around us to play an active role in molding and shaping us? What if we were better listeners and took people's words to heart. What if we paid attention to inciting incidents and believed that next time, we can respond differently, and the future will change because of it. But even if it doesn't change anything, at least we lived our part well.
Another character in the story was given opportunity after opportunity to act in behalf of other people, but every time he tried to interfere he would meet a force of pain so great that it stopped him. He didn't think he could do anything about it because it hurt too much. Then it dawned on him that the pain was there all along for him to push through, not to keep him from acting.
It seems that's where many of us live, on the verge.
My prayer is that we remember who we are. That we don't numb the Voice inside that sends us on this wild chase to the heart of God but that we listen well- to God, to others, and to all the signposts He has left all around us.