When I reflect back on my life, what happened to me often does seem more like a movie I’ve watched rather than something I’ve experienced. There is a certain detachment I feel about my experiences, especially the good ones that feel tainted by the bad experiences that loom so much bigger, and consequently feel more “real.” They’re not any more real, of course, than the good ones but for some reason the bad experiences have a way of lingering on in my heart.
Life may be like a movie in the sense that our lives certainly play out like stories. In fact, they are stories, stories that are lived and experienced in the present moment. We are both the authors and the actors in our stories, so in some sense we can control our present story lines, but we don’t have editorial control over our past experiences/scenes/chapters.
I think the analogy of being an actor in a story is a helpful one. It helps us to remember that we have a role to play not only in our own personal story’s but also in the bigger Story we’ve been placed into. As actors in this story we can learn from our past, to both regret and rejoice in it, but we can also relish in the fact that the story continues no matter what has happened earlier.
What I’m thinking here is that I don’t have to bury the past because it’s a series of scenes that have qualified me to be here at this moment playing the role that I am and the role I will play in the future. It’s an adventure. And yes, every adventure has those moments when all seems lost, but every adventure is a journey as well. And every journey is a moving forward toward something.
Since I’ve been running with a lot of analogies lately, I may as well continue. One of my favorite movies is “Braveheart,” a story of heroism by a man who wished only for a simple life revolving around his first love and family. Early in the picture, we know that an outside evil takes his father away from him and then years later, it takes his bride from him as well. He becomes a hero when he defends his people against this evil instead of giving in to the temptation to live in the past and check out of his story. A terrible one at that. And yes, he does make the ultimate sacrifice in the end by giving his life up for his people. But he chose to reengage in his story and have an important say in the outcome of the bigger story around him. And by the way, this movie was based on the true story of William Wallace.
Most of our stories will not have this kind of story arc, but I’m thinking about the former scenes in my story, and I realize that there’s a lot more story left to be told, and now the tinge of depression I was feeling takes a backseat to the reality that this is still my story to tell, and I do, by the grace of God, have a say in how its written and an Advocate telling the larger one who has my back through it all.
One last thought/analogy. I’m reminded here of watching reruns of old serials that originally ran in movie theaters back in the 1940s-50s. At the end of each episode, which often involved a harrowing cliff hanger, the words “to be continued” filled the screen. In other words, “it may look hopeless now but it ain’t over yet”, and in the back of our minds we know good always wins in the end no matter how many cliff hangers we have to endure. As a believer, I have the assurance that the story of my life will end in victory, which means being united with all who have fought with me through the ages with our Author and Advocate even if all seems lost in the short run.