AND THE STORY TOOK A TRAGIC TURN

25 Jan

Somewhere in every great book, the story takes a tragic turn. My favorite authors seem to delight in making tragic turns occur just when everything seems wonderful and peaceful. The first such story happened in the Garden of Eden. Sometimes I absolutely hate what authors put their characters through. My favorite writers do it consistently, yet I love their books. Why? Because an adventure requires more than good guys, true love, and good times. It also requires villains, betrayals, and tragic turns. Why? Well, it sells books is one reason, but another reason is that it resembles real life. 

There is an unwritten contract between writers and readers. It states that each tragic turn must serve a purpose. The hero must either grow from the experience or learn from it. Often they will go through a similar (and usually worse) event in the future. We readers will endure tragic, even evil, turns in the story if we see good come from it. Why? Because that is what we want real life to be like. We want to believe that there is a purpose for the tragedies we experience. Most of us don’t want to read books that follow the philosophy of Elbert Hubbard who said, “Life is just one damn thing after another.”

So, with that intro, do you feel a story with a tragic turn coming on? Here it is. In my last post, I wrote about becoming a Tio, or house dad, to three teenage girls. It was with joy, hope, and honor that I wrote that post. I was exhilarated at the thought of helping those young ladies. However, within days, life took an unforeseen turn. While not really a tragic turn, it felt that way at the time. One girl got angry with a government official and left the program. One failed to take care of her child and was placed in another house with a Tia who would train and guide her to be a better mother. The third girl couldn’t stay in their apartment by herself so she was moved to yet another house. In twelve hours, we went from working together as a team and growing as a family unit to me sitting on the floor of their apartment watching all three cry. I tried to offer words of comfort, but I didn’t  know the language well enough to do so.

So life took an unexpected, sad, and disappointing turn. In the past, this is where I would usually say, “I won’t do that again. It hurt too much. No. Not me.” That was me in the past, but what about now? Do I still like the adventure God has placed me in? Heavens yes! Two reasons come to mind. The first reason is that in the days since then, I have lived through the next several chapters of the story. I can already see good things happening. Things that might not have happened in our previous arrangement.

Under the tutelage of a woman she likes and loves, the young mom is learning how to take care of her child. Three days ago she hid her head in a pillow and cried. Today, she is smiling and happy. The girl who got angry and left won’t be back, but she understands that she let her temper put her where she is now. The third girl has started cooking for the boys in one of the houses. I got to eat her fried chicken the other day. Sorry Mom, but Eili’s fried chicken may be the best I’ve ever had. I am not exaggerating. So see, all is different, yet all is well. The Author of this story really does know what He is doing.

And that is the second reason, and perhaps the main one, that I still like the adventure. I personally know the author and trust that He will succeed in writing the story He wants to write. He will end this story with, “And they lived happily ever after.”

Do I have questions about what happened and why it happened? Yes. But here is the real question. Would I do it again? YES! (All caps equal a shout) Now, I know that this turn of events wasn’t truly tragic, but what if it had been. A death could have been the cause of the breakup of our farming team. Or the two girls that stayed could have run away later and ended up in who knows what kind of horrid situation. So would I do it again even if it had been tragic? You can bet the farm on it. Oh, don’t misunderstand me. Watching my girls cry hurt so badly that I went back to my apartment and cried too. It hurt especially bad to know that one was leaving the group for good. But I absolutely trust the author of this story. He has proven His qualities to me time and again. I trust that He is in control, and most of all, I trust that His heart is good. You see, every story He writes is History. (His Story – get it?) And His Story is always good.

As an author, He does have a unique problem. His Story is an interactive story. He lets us participate and our choices determine much of our part in His Story. Don’t jump on me for heresy. I believe God is sovereign and absolutely in control, but I also believe that within His sovereign will, He gave us free will. He chooses us, but we choose whether or not we accept His choosing of us. (You may need to read that line again. I did.)

Life is supposed to be an adventure. Yet, I lived most of my life paralyzed by the constant fear of pain. I did almost anything to avoid even the potential of pain. So, am I having fun right now? Yes, and it hurts. Relationships hurt. Disappointment hurts. Broken relationships hurt. But, I know the end of the story, and friends, we win. Those of us who choose to listen to His call “live happily ever after.” The story doesn’t end with this turn of events. This isn’t the final chapter. Heck, it isn’t even the main storyline. Life truly begins when we enter into the presence of the Author.

Yes this turn of events hurt, but this is the storyline that the Author wrote specifically for me – and my girls. I go through these hurts because I now know that my life has purpose. Plus, even with the hurts, the life I am living now is just plain fun. Other than my salvation, I may be walking through the greatest miracle of my lifetime. God has changed me from a guy who avoided all risks of pain into a man who doesn’t want pain, but sees it as part of this life and is willing to go through it. I know that what I face will make me better and that it will help me face problems in the future that are similar – and maybe worse. Besides, this is History, not my story. My part is just a small part, although to the Author, I am as important as any other character, except His Son.

This poem has been one of my favorites for years. It is just now that I am actually understanding and living this mindset.

My Orders by Ethelwyn Wetherald

My orders are to fight; 

  Then if I bleed, or fail, 
Or strongly win, what matters it?
  God only doth prevail.

The servant craveth naught
  Except to serve with might.
I was not told to win or lose,–
  My orders are to fight.

To have this mindset requires trust. To have trust requires asking the Author to write you into a chapter on trust. It will be a grand adventure, but there will be tragic turns. And it will hurt. But friends, it is worth it. I promise. How do I know? Because we win. What does victory look like? It looks like a celebration of champions. I see one day when you, I, my three girls, and all the other champions will gather in the Author’s house for a party to celebrate the wedding of the His Son. It will be a grand event, but it will be absent one thing. A tragic turn.

“And they lived happily ever after.”

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