What I love about stories

There’s a phenomenon when you read a book in public that I think most nerds can relate to. All good books have a way of dragging you into their world and making you a part of it. Because of that, you feel the things the characters feel. You go through everything they go through and more. There comes a moment in the story when things get too intense; things get too big. You just have to put the book down to fully process the emotional turmoil you’ve just gone through. When you’re in public in that moment, you suddenly remember that you are not actually a part of that world in the story – you are, in fact, in a world kindly going about its day as if that emotional turmoil didn’t happen at all. You see cars driving by with the windows rolled down and their passengers without a care in the world. You see children laughing and playing. You see the faces of those around you and notice that nobody shares your thought of What in the hell just happened?! You realize that nobody can answer your question because nothing did happen. The events are fictional. But, by George, the feelings are real. You take with you the things you learned while immersed in that story. Reading books, watching movies, and just experiencing stories allow you to live a life you never could while learning more than simply going through life would make possible. You can live your own life more fully, imaginatively, and wisely by living the lives of the characters in books and stories. I’ll just leave you with the words of George R.R. Martin:


My Life as a 1,000 Piece Puzzle

My life has been through quite a lot of uncertainty in the last four months. In fact, when I did the math in order to be accurate on that fact, it’s incredibly difficult to believe it’s only been four months. It all started with a little idea at leadership one uneventful Monday night in January. None of us leaders had planned for what would happen during the summer – it was January, we just wanted to survive the harsh winter at that point – but one of our committee members encouraged us to do so. She said that we should think about living in the area for the summer so we could be close to the school where we do ministry and we could continue to build relationships with kids when the kids (and we, the leaders, too) would be bored. When she mentioned it, something sparked in me, and I thought, Well, that’d be a cool thing to do… but I’m not really one for change, so I tucked that away way in the back of my mind.

Until about a month later when my parents called me with some bittersweet news. See, my dad had been looking for a new job for a while because he’d about had enough where he was. Understandable. So my parents called me – which was strange because usually we just text – and gleefully exclaimed that my dad had found a new job. In the middle of my celebration, they added one tiny detail. That the new job was in Delaware. And not the town about a 1.5-hour drive from where I was. The state. That’s a 9-hour drive from where I currently was. And my dad would be moving out there a month later. So I had some life rearranging to get done. My life was beginning to look like the beginning of a 1,000 piece puzzle of blue sky – a giant pile of pieces and almost no plan of action.

But that thought that I neatly tucked away in the back of my mind started to creep back. Did I really want to move all the way out to Delaware only to live there for three months of the year or did I want to take a leap and start really living more independently? Maybe I should take that opportunity and live in Northwest Ohio so I can keep up with the relationships I was building in Young Life. Maybe I should get a job around here so I could pay for my house next year.

I found the four corners, but now I was still left with a pile of pieces and less direction than I had before. Where would I live? Where could I work? The farther I went into the semester, the less I seemed to know about my summer. I didn’t have a place to live, I didn’t have a job, I had no plan except that I was going to be here. By the middle of April, I had made zero progress on my puzzle. With only two weeks left until summer, my life really needed to fall together or it would spiral downward. But I gotta tell ya, God provides.

Right when the summer subleases were all taken and I was left unsure of what to do, I was asked to babysit for one of our committee families who happened to have an extra room. I sat watching an episode of Lab Rats or ANT Farm or some other cheesy Disney Channel show when I thought What about here? Take a chance. Ask if you could stay here. It’s just for a few months. You won’t be that much of a burden… So I did just that. I took a chance, and they graciously let me occupy the empty bed.

I was finding matches here and there and making small progress on my life puzzle. But after applying for Lord only knows how many jobs and hearing back from only a few – most being rejections – it still wasn’t looking great. On my last day living on campus right after I had taken my first trip out to my new temporary home, I got a call from a campus number. I debated answering it because I didn’t want to have to deal with the bursar or something, but I decided to answer, and I got a job out of it. I was offered a job as event staff at our athletic facility, which I think will be a lot of fun.

And just like that, it all came together. My puzzle is at the point that I just had to search the floor and double check the box for little, unimportant pieces before it can totally be finished and be a masterpiece. Matthew 6:25-34 has always been a bit of a struggle for me to really live.

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

I am a planner and a worrier. Every once in a while, I’m a major type-A personality and therefore have a lot of trouble really trusting the Lord with my life. But God provides and it all comes together. Maybe you’re at a place in your life when you feel like you’re staring at a pile of pieces, but they’ll fit together. You won’t see how just yet, but the Holy Spirit will guide you and it will come together. It might take longer than you’d like, but it is beautiful when it all falls in line. It’s a masterpiece.