I emerge from the great void of sleeplessness with yet another deep and slightly personal pondering of a serious and philosophical nature. I don’t know why this only happens when I’m tired. Side effects of lunacy. I’ll figure it out one day.
Anyway. It’s time for another 2 AM talk with Sarah.
I’ve been thinking about the subject of pain.
(There’s your abrupt and slightly morbid topic-switch for the day.)
Because whether you’re male or female, ten years old or twenty, elf, goblin, orc or hobbit, there will come a time in your life when you meet pain. And I don’t mean pain as in dropping the stapler on your toe kind of pain. (Though we really shouldn’t discredit that sort of thing—I am determined that not even a ton of concrete hurts so much.) I’m talking about heartbreak. Grief. Depression. Despair. The kind of pain that worms down into your soul, leaving you awake at night and challenging every belief you’ve ever had about life and God.
Some draw closer to Him through it. Some push Him away. But at least once, you’re going to find yourself wondering:
Is there even a point to this?
And will it ever end?
I know what that’s like.
And I used to lay in bed at night, looking toward the future and only seeing darkness. I didn’t think it would ever end—and I certainly didn’t think that it had a purpose. But then one night, when I was fifteen—still a relatively new writer and fledgling Christian—God brought me to realize something through writing, something that blew my mind and exploded my entire perspective of life and grief.
I call it the 60 Page Theory.
As a writer, I understand more than most about the components of a good story. I know that characters start out with a miserable beginning, and end with a happily ever after. There are generally a good deal of swords, fair maidens, and nasty dragons in between, but nothing is more important than that horrible beginning and that wonderful end. One is incomplete without the other. You need the bad to get to the good. You need to break the character before he can become whole.
It sounds funny, saying it that way, and terribly paradoxical. But it’s true. And we, as the reader, know right from the get-go that everything will turn out alright.
Sometimes we forget that the character isn’t so well-informed.
The Chronicles of Narnia, for example. Those four Pevensie children had a pretty bad time of it. Yanked from their home by a world war that had already claimed their father’s service, they were sent away from their mother (and their entire way of living) to go stay with a man they’d never met before, not even knowing if they would ever see their parents alive again.
But look at what happened because of it. If it hadn’t been for those terrible circumstances, if they hadn’t been taken away from their mother and dumped with a stranger, Lucy never would have opened that wardrobe door. There would have been no Narnia. No Aslan. None of the wisdom that came from ruling a country, none of the joy derived from having so many faithful subjects and loving friends.
No redemption for Edmund.
Yes, they had pain in the beginning. But that pain was a doorway. And though it was impossible for them to know—or even imagine—at the time, they only had to wait forty pages, or fifty pages, or sixty.
Sixty pages. And then everything suddenly makes sense.
While we’re caught up in our sorrow, it’s way too easy to look ahead and only see this never-ending road of grief. But despite what it sometimes feels like, we don’t know the future. We only see the right now—the immediate pain, the immediate present—and we can’t know that what’s happening right now is merely the bad beginning that will bring us to the happily ever after.
Because all the while, God is standing beside us. And He’s saying, “Sixty more pages. Read sixty more pages, Sarah, and I promise, you’ll understand.”
You need the evil-stepmother to meet the prince.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. ~Romans 8:28
Anyway. There’s my deep say-so of the week. All hail the coming of March, and don’t drown in glitter.