I just finished reading fear and trembling by soren kierkegaard. full disclosure: I understood about half of it. maybe less. but one part I think I got was when he was talking about what a great life looks like and what it takes to make a great life happen. it takes a lot of effort to live in a way that is working with God to build an awesomely beautiful end scene. and I cannot skip to the end. I cannot steal the lesson or somehow buy greatness. if I really want to learn something and learn how to live, I must begin at the beginning. I cannot expect to know the outcome first, "for one knows the result only when the whole thing is over." God has saved me and bought me and, for no other reason than his grace, I will get to spend eternity with him. but I still have to do the work to make my story great while I am in this present reality. when everything is said and done, and God asks me what I did with this body and mind and heart that he entrusted to me for a little while, I want to have something interesting to tell him.
in his book, kierkegaard wrote that our lives become great, "not, by being relieved of the distress, the agony, and the paradox, but because of these." and I think I am starting to understand that part more and more. that the tests and the trials and the struggles that I live through only make my story better. that if I want to live a great story, I have to do the work to make it happen. that joy costs pain and greatness takes a lot of risk and a whole lot of work. I think I have finally come to a peace with this. but the part that has proven to be harder for me to grasp is how my actions must speak louder than my circumstances. kierkegaard wrote, "it is not what happens to me that makes me great, but what I do." put another way, in one of my most favorite books, donald miller says, "the only way to know the truth is to make choices under pressure, to take one action or another in the pursuit of desire…the idea that a character is what he does remains the hardest to actually live." it seems so simple. if I want my story - my life - to be great, it is not just that I need to be able to deal with hard things. I need to be able to act differently in the face of them. I need to be able to love people well despite how I feel. I need to be able to live so that my words are not void. that is a whole lot harder than it seems. and I don't have a lot of answers at the moment. maybe tomorrow.