A thought I had a couple of weeks ago:
You are the sum of all your parts.
That is, you are the product, the result, of all your parts.
You are the integration of all the different parts of your life.
Take me, for example. I am a daughter, a sister, a friend. A child of God, of course. I am a product of the red brick house I call home, of the farmhouse in west Texas. Of thirteen years of private school, four of those years of classical education. Of Texas Tech University -- more brick, but Spanish architecture. I am the result of a music degree, of a year off of school. Of working at a grocery store for five years, and at a business Club, too. I am a product of every role I've ever played, every song I've ever sung, every book I've ever read.
We are the sum of all our parts.
We cannot say we are not defined by all these things.
Incidents have the power to shape us. Circumstances, things we run into on the Road --
They maximize, they impact us.
They file an edge off here, cut a corner here. Leave a sharp point here and there.
We are the product of everyone we meet. The people we befriend, the people we fall in love with.
We are the product of our lives, of our circumstances, and my point in saying all this is:
We cannot cannot cannot discount anything.
We are one whole person.
Our lives are integrated.
We cannot discount anything.
The Adventure is in all of it, and it's like Chekhov's gun -- if it shows up in Act I, expect it to play a significant role in Act III.
God does not waste anything.
The smallest of things, the littlest of incidents -- we may think they are coincidence. They are not. We can expect God to use it.
I have seen God take little, tiny occurrences in my life and bloom them into vines and shrubs and threads of red running through my tapestry. Like red flowers sewn into silver. He weaves them into me like themes, like leitmotifs, like the way a master weaver makes the silver thread and the red run through the loom.
Tiny threads, these. And they make all the difference. It is the splash of color in the gray.
(But gray is still beautiful.)
The smallest of things are worked into the fabric of our lives, except it isn't really working. For God, this work is effortless. It is His breath and bread. It is His modus operandi.
And slowly but surely our lives take shape until they take on the character of an Epic.
Of Adventure Story.
And isn't this the life we always wanted?
The necklaces I wear on thin chains have significance. The best thing is what happens when what I feel like is a mistake suddenly comes to shape me.
Suddenly. Slowly. Surely. And then I realize it: wasn't a mistake at all. It was a gift.
Right now I'm in a season that feels weird and wrong and uprooted and like I can't see my hand in front of my face. I am sure it might look like a mistake on the outside.
But it's only part of the story.
I think of Frodo and Sam and how they were often in the dark, and all they could do was go on.
And from outside the book we know: this has purpose. This is part of it. This is a part of the Epic that doesn't look epic.
Secret time, y'all: it never looks epic when you're in it. It never, ever looks gorgeous when you're in it.
At best, it looks ordinary. At worst, it looks like catastrophe. And maybe it is a catastrophe.
One of Tolkien's favorite concepts in his writing was that of eucatastrophe. It's my favorite word right now, and as I write this, I see that it is a force that is shaping my own life. For eucatastrophe to occur, there has to be actual catastrophe. But the euphony of it comes when grace shows up in the middle of the catastrophe, and the evil takes a sudden hairpin turn and becomes --
Glory be --
Not necessarily moral goodness. Just sheer goodness, like bread and wine and soft beds and the wind in the trees and sunshine and the smell of rain and starlight and all the wholesome things we've ever met and loved.
Another secret, y'all, one I'm still constantly learning, over and over and over again, in ceaseless perpetuity:
The mistake is never a mistake.
It's all part of it.
And one day we will look back on what we thought was a disaster and we will see the hand of grace at work.
In smallness and in grand catastrophe. In ordinary and in perilous danger. In a life that grinds along so boringly we almost cannot stand it -- and then again, when we are sure that this is the end, that we will die.
Everything is part of the Story.
And think of what a good one you'll have to tell one day.
I will bless the Lord in the midst of the great congregation, because He has done wonderful things for my soul.
And this is why.