It happens everywhere. But I guess the first place I noticed it was at the pool. I am dragging Strokeman around while he bicycles his legs and I notice the look on the lifeguard’s face. She is a young pretty thing and she is watching us with moon eyes that communicate, “isn’t that so romantic the way that lady is taking care of her disabled husband? Just like a movie!”
What goes through my mind is something along the lines of, “Give me a freaking break!”
That look; the one that speaks romance and heroics. I see it often on the faces of the people around me. At church I have people say things about what and amazing woman I am, and I have to choke back the words that want to come, “Yeah, right!”
Let me just tell you right now that there is nothing about being on the inside of this story that feels romantic or heroic. There is no music rising to climax as I help Strokeman stretch his arm or walk his laps. It is just plain hard work that seems to be endless, with very little gain and no end in sight.
I am as guilty as anyone else of watching a movie or reading a book about one who sticks by with love in the face of surmounting odds, and thinking to myself how I would like the chance to try my hand at that. We want to be that person who is able to be so self sacrificing and loving: The winner of the day. What doesn’t seem to translate in the movies is how incredibly hard it is. It doesn’t feel heroic when you are in the middle of it. I am all too aware of the evil thoughts that go through my head a million times a day. I know my propensity for feeling sorry for myself, for wanting to dump this problem on someone else, anyone else. I know how often the thought crosses my mind when I am out by myself that maybe I could just keep driving…And the reality is that there may never be a happy ending, this side of heaven. From a worldly perspective it may never get any better than it is right now. And that thought slays me some days.
The way I cope is not to see myself as a heroine in some epic movie. There is no comfort in the thought. There is no comfort in hearing from people that I appear to be something I know I am not. How I cope is remembering that the true romance is the story of a God who chose me before the earth was formed to be a part of his peculiar people. I cope by putting my hope in the truth that He is a kind and loving Father who is at the mercy of no one and nothing. Whatever He deems best He will do, and ultimately it will be best for me. If I don’t see that at work on any given day: If I don’t perceive His victorious reign over all the earth, the problem is with my senses. It is easy for me to be fooled by my own logic: this feels bad so it must be bad. If it’s bad then it can’t be from a loving God, so it must be out of His control somehow. If God can’t control my circumstances, then what hope do I have? Or if He is in control and He has allowed this bad thing in my life, then how can He really be a good God?
The truth is that this story is bigger than just me and my little problems here. It is a story about a chosen people who have rebelled repeatedly against a very patient Creator. And in return this Creator has provided a way to breach the gap caused by this rebellion. He has provided One to take on the sins of His people and take the punishment for them. In addition, His people are given the position of bride to the Bridegroom. He provides for their needs, He ever pleads for them before the throne of the King, He comforts them, teaches them, writes His law on their hearts. And He invites them to share in His suffering for this little while on earth so that He might show His glory through their perseverance. And one day He is coming to bring them home, where they will get to celebrate with Him around the banquet table, with new bodies, new heaven and new earth.
While I am a part of this story, my part is ever so small. In fact, if this were a movie, I would be an extra – just a face in the crowd. I am not necessary to the plot being worked out. He has chosen to make me a part of the story – however small the part may be – but the true romance, the true heroics; that’s not my role. That’s His. But if I am given the great honor of somehow reflecting a little bit of the romance by being obedient in this little part I have: If by some miracle someone sees a little bit of the Savior in the way I live, then that’s OK by me. I am what I am by the grace of God, may His grace not be in vain.