A few things converged to make me start thinking about this.
One of them was a wrestle going on in my head: I’m 35, practically homeless, degree-less, and basically lacking all the things our culture requires you have to be successful/valuable.
Another was a song – there is a line in it that says, “my story’s crazy but it’s true.” I got really excited and thought “Yeah, that’s me!” But then had a bit of a reality check when I realized: it sounds cool to say it that way, but in the midst of the “crazy” part, it’s usually very difficult.
And the other was a scene in the Harry Potter novels. In case you are unfamiliar with it, I’ll sketch it out for you (and then urge you to go read it). Harry is, obviously, the hero of the story. He has many conflicts with the “bad guys” where he emerges victorious. His friends will say, “You did this, and you did that, (you’re so cool).” Harry is always protesting, particularly to his friend Ron (who tends towards jealousy), that it isn’t like that, that it is mostly luck, coincidence, and just barely scraping by. But then Ron has a dramatic confrontation with the darkness, in which he is the victor. As Harry is telling someone else about how amazing Ron was, Ron expresses that he really wasn’t that cool. And exasperated Harry says, “Yes exactly! That is what I have been telling you for years.”
I have been so inspired and encouraged by some of my favourite stories, by music I’ve listened to, and by the movies/TV we have watched. They shape the way I think, and the way I view my own life. They help me to be able to frame the story differently. So instead of being “homeless,” we actually have many, many homes. (Because I built my house upon a stone.)
I don’t know what kind of story your life is, but mine is an epic. In the best epic stories, some of the meaning or significance of events is only revealed much later on, viewed backwards. In my favourite epic stories, there was usually a point where I nearly quit reading them because things got so heartbreaking and hopeless, I could see no way the world could be right again.
Friends, this is the chapter we have been in lately.
I could mention so many people, stories and lyrics that inspire me to keep going, that this awful, painful, desolate moment is not the final word. (Because I need this reminder so often.) From one song I have listened to over and over: “Hold on to your hope, watch your triumph unfold.”
The way that heroes get through the darkest chapters is to just keep going, to keep moving forward towards the “goal,” even when that seems hopeless. We keep reminding ourselves. And we keep trying to choose the best steps on an unclear path.
On Sunday we get on a plane, to return to Rwanda. We will be there for about 2 months. We are looking forward to seeing people we love, but we are also apprehensive and dreading how hard this will be. This is the next part in our epic tale, and we are “holding on to something” as we keep going.