By: Sarah Nyhan
“Do not be dismayed.” Over and over in the Bible. Do not be dismayed.
One dictionary defines dismay as the loss of courage due to fear.
What are the stories that we tell ourselves? The more I think about it, we basically have a 100% chance of being wrong about how we see the future turning out. I guess 50% chance at the most. Maybe. But when I really flesh it all out, it is really ridiculous to think we understand anything that is going on. Much less think we are ever able to accurately depict the future. And that is what storytelling is: being a fortune-teller, a psychic. It’s crazy. Absolutely crazy.
Yet we live our lives in story. We build our identity within a story. A story that we’ve told ourselves. Or someone else’s story that we’ve adopted as our own. We build, or try to build little kingdoms on top of these stories, out of these stories, in these stories. We go to war and kill people for our stories.
It’s so crazy the more I think about it.
I am a product of two humans deciding to have intercourse one day. That involved a bunch of cells racing towards each other and at least two sticking together. Then those cells multiply and grow. Then somehow a soul or a spirit gets attached to all that?! Who can even really scientifically explain even what a soul or spirit is and where it comes from?
Nevertheless, then I’m born a helpless child who is at the mercy of so many other humans for a great majority of years. I’ve been told a lot of stories during that time. I’ve been pressured to pick a story and stick with it. Even for survival. And yet, I know nothing. I only know what I have been taught or experienced. And I haven’t had very much time to figure out what is true and false about all that. Speaking of time, it flies by. And I’m asked to make so many decisions without really knowing for myself what is best. I manage as well as I can within the stories I have, but for the most part it’s a falling forward.
And then people ask you what your plans are for the future. As if simply planning will ensure specific outcomes. 2020 was a slap in the face in that regard. 2020 was a slap in the face, a wake-up call, in the stories of most, I imagine. Like going to the ocean and seeing how small you are. How powerless in the face of… everything.
And yet we judge each other. We say, “I figured out a story that seems to be going better than yours.” For now. Until the cancer. Until the accident. Until the
.. etc. Etc. Etc.
I admit I initially get overwhelmed. About 20 million times a day. And then the absurdity of demanding control and certainty just knocks the rug out from under me. And I fall. I let go. There is nothing else left to do but enjoy the flight.
My word pictures lack the punch I feel and desire. But I try. Like in everything else. Imperfectly.
This is mystery.
Where am I? I am in You, Jesus. Not because I know how or why. But because You said so. And You know the real story. I’m just a kid. But I am Your kid. With all my stories; probably mostly incomplete or incorrect. And yet here I stand before another day. In the lens of Your economy (and what a terrible way to put that), things could go my way just as much as they could not go my way today. I will do my best to fumble through but really my only hope is You. Please help me see things as they really are. Please help me see through Your heart versus all my fears. Even the ones people shame me into not professing. You know, God. You know me. Better than I know myself. If You said that You work all things for good, please help me see that story. Please restore our hope. And joy. I believe You already are. I want to feel it. More and even more.
I only have this instant. The stories I tell myself about the future are just my imagination. They are not real.
Maybe the only thing I need to ask myself is, “Am I alone in all this? Do I really think my Creator spun me out into this world and abandoned me to myself and the mercy of others?” Too many things have happened during my time for me to be able to answer “no”. I hope the same for you.
If it isn’t the end yet then there is still more to the story. And I want to stick around to find out. To fully experience this crazy ride we call life. I believe we all are eternally safe in our Creator, our Abba’s heart. So I want everything there is for me to have here. So I practice choosing to let go of the stories I tell myself and the meaning I give anything. And in doing so I practice choosing not to be dismayed.
Everything could change in an instant. What if tomorrow holds that moment? What if even today?
What if I included Trinity and Their Love into all my equations? With God, anything and everything really is possible. I want to dream bigger.