Stories are written one decision after the next: to stay or to go, to say hello or to stay silent, to say yes or to hold out for greater possibility. Good stories present the main character with a choice, and in our lives—in our stories—those choices determine what we allow God to do with our lives. We can choose comfort or grand adventure. We can take the hard road, or the easy one.
We, as humans, have an innate desire to be courageous. Woven into our hearts is the desire to live lives that matter, to live great stories, to be the courageous heroes that overcome our greatest fears just in time to save the day.
But we so often choose the other path. And the problem is that when we take the easy road, the story ends. Our lives fade into the beige mundane of the day-to-day as we bypass the miraculous in favor of the familiar.
It shouldn’t be surprising that some of my favorite stories are love stories. I think that’s true for a lot of us. Even war and action movies leave us dry eyed and empty without a girl to come home to or a memory to fight for.
We crave love stories.
And I think we love them so much because, in a lot of ways, they’re some of the most heroic stories we can live.
Starting a business is scary, and the risk of failure is real. But a failed business is nothing compared to heartbreak, and the joy of a success means little without people to share it with.
Love is the greatest risk we can take because it’s the one that impacts us the deepest. Love buries its way into a place that no other battle or act of bravery can.
These days, as my friends and I have reached our mid-twenties, it seems like love is the word on everyone’s lips.
Facebook is exploding with engagement photos and honeymoon selfies. Every day it seems that someone else has a shiny new ring and wildly romantic story to match.
And while we’re happy to celebrate with the lovely couple (who doesn’t like an open bar and the Cupid Shuffle?), this extended wedding season shines a spotlight on our lives leaving ample room for comparison.
Weddings are bright celebrations wrought with painful reminders of unmet longings.
My beautiful, talented, wonderful friends are asking questions like, “when is it my turn?” and, “will this ever happen for me?”
And the more people get married, and the longer you have to wait, the more hopeless the situation seems. It seems like all of the good ones are taken. You try to date but have to choose between fun and attractive, or nice and respectful, as though all four would be too many character traits to fit in one person.
You end another relationship knowing that it’s not right, that it’s not the real connection that seems so possible for everybody else, hoping that there’s something better out there. But by the third break-up, you begin to wonder if there’s really a better option.
Comfort tugs at your heart: someone is better than no one, right? And the guy at the end of the bar is starting to look more and more like Brad Pitt.
You begin to want to take the story into your own hands, deciding the ending rather than having to sit in the risk and uncertainty for one more moment.
But here’s my plea to you: don’t. Don’t take a shortcut to the end of the story.
Don’t refuse the discomfort—don’t just say yes to the ones who are convenient—because feeling chosen can never replace being chosen.
I’m not saying that you’ll miss out on your soul mate—I’m not sure that there’s only one choice for us, anyway.
But instead, you may realize that you married a man who won’t pray for you when you’re sick, or sad, or having a hard day—because your beliefs don’t match up. Or a man who wants to stay close to home when you want to live a life of daring adventure.
You’ll realize that day after day, his distant bad-boy routine is less sexy and more isolating. Or that him looking good on paper doesn't mean he'll be your best friend. You may find that your passions for life are fundamentally different, and that his lack of passion—or understanding of your passion— may cause you to resent time spent with him.
What I’m saying is this: hold out.
We're not talking perfection here, we're talking about delaying instant affirmation for a relationship that is full of life.
And so hold out for the better story, because there is one. You may not turn around and bump right into the man of your dreams, but the truth is that we have a really good Dad who gives really good gifts—gifts far better than the knock-off versions we sometimes settle for.
In what ways do you settle for less than God's best?