"it's my own crazy story"

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happy new year!  i hope you had a safe & good holiday. we have had a great vacation with all my kids home together and still have a few days before it’s back to reality.  my word for 2012 was “focus”.  it makes me laugh when i think about it because if i look back on the past year it doesn’t seem very “focused.” but the truth is that it was an awesome guiding word for the year and helped me not do some things and be wiling to do some others.

in december i was with some of my dear & brave ex-good-christian-women friends, reflecting on the past year–the good, the bad, and the ugly, and i wrote this at the top of a piece of paper in front of me:  “yeah, this is my crazy story.”

what i meant by this is that from the outside looking in, some of my life looks a little nuts.  i have been slogging it out at the refuge for 6 solid years, neck deep in relationship & friendship & community & poverty & pain & church dreaming, making less money than i did 25 years ago and working my butt off emotionally and practically.  i have 5 kids, 4 of them teenagers, and that alone is crazy.  my husband’s got three jobs & i’ve got two. week after week i write my guts out here for free & live with weird back pain & my house is a mess & i’m behind in just about everything.

but this is my crazy story.

no one else needs to understand it.

it doesn’t have to make sense. it doesn’t have to be practical. it doesn’t have to be a building block for a more-stress-free future.

it’s just my own crazy story that i find myself in. 

all of us have our own crazy stories.  we have all things we wish were different about our pasts.  we all have things we wish were different about our present.  and we are all in the midst of our own present crazy stories that are meant to be embraced, valued, honored, in all their dark & light, good & bad,  joy & suffering, peace & stress.

the problem for some of us is that we often wish for a different story.  

we wish we had more money, time, courage, love, health, success, stability, more you-fill-in-the-blank.  i can’t tell you the number of times this past year i compared my writing to someone else’s, the cleanliness of my house to some else’s, my body to someone else’s, my kids to someone else’s, my faith to someone else’s,  the refuge to other churches or ministries.  and every time i do, i never feel better.  i always come up short.  i always end up feeling less than.

and then what happens is i miss the good that’s right in front of me.  i start living in the past, wishing i had done this or that differently, or i start living in the future, thinking “if i just kick into gear and this or that, then things will become more-the-way-i-want-them.”

what happens is i miss the beauty of my own crazy story, here, now.

my family is in the midst of re-watching the lord of the rings trilogy and i think this scene is one of my all-time most favorite moments in all three of them from the two towers:

we are all on our own crazy adventures.  they look so different from one another. some look more exciting or more brave or more difficult or more painful, but the truth is that there are always all of these things and more.

they are our own stories.  and they matter.

i’m trying to embrace my crazy story for what it is and accept that for whatever reason, this is where i am, and it doesn’t have to make sense. my responsibility is just to show up and participate in it as honestly & boldly as i can and accept that God is at work in all kinds of mysterious ways in the midst.

so if you’re one of those people like me who struggle with accepting your story, my hope is that in this new year we’d lean into them in new ways.  that we’d bravely keep walking forward, even if it’s in the dark.  that we’d have faithful companions for our journey.  that we’d let go of trying to make sense of what can’t be made sense of and enjoy the ride a little more.   that we wouldn’t turn back or wish for a different one.  that we’d remember there’s something good in this world and it’s worth fighting for.

yeah, “the universe is made of stories, not atoms” – muriel rukeyser

happy 2013.  here’s to another year of living out our own crazy stories.

love, kathy

ps:  i write a monthly down we go column for sheloves magazine the first tuesday of every month.  january’s theme there is “brave” and i have a post there from yesterday, january 1st, called do it anyway.  i am hoping to drink some of my own medicine and as i wrote it i decided that my word for 2013 is “brave”.  do you have one?

 

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Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar co-pastors at The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver and is the author of Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

20 Comments

  • We watched the Two Towers last night and I was also struck by what Sam says to Frodo. My own story has been crazy and dark and painful the past few years, and, yet, I see no end to it in sight. As we watched, I told my husband, “I feel like Frodo.” And then I listened to Sam, “Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.” Truth.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • truly amazing movies, all 3 of them. we just finished the last one. so good. yes, to the sun & a new day….peace and courage to you on your journey.

      Reply
  • Yes, to being fully present to the now. I can not change the past, and I can not change my future without accepting where I am now. We so often forget, we get to choose who and what to say yes and no to – right now. (and own up to an inauthentic “yes” is a weak no.) It is in the ordinary decisions we make in our everyday life that create our future. Choosing love over hate, peace over anger, continuing to lug the past around with me or living in the now with hope for tomorrow – these will determine my future. Every morning is a fresh beginning for me…a world of possibilities at my fingertips.

    It has been a rather zig-zag path for me to a better now and I am moving in a healthy happy direction. Rejoicing in all circumstances.

    Denial of reality, magical thinking – keep us hostage to the past and powerless to live in the “now” and now is really all we have. Peter Senge has said that a vision “not” grounded in reality leads to chaos. I don’t want to live in that place ever again.

    And, how funny, that both of us practiced focus in 2012. For me, 2012 was my year for practicing the art of focus, persistence, and consistency. (2011 was my year of practicing the art of “no” which opened surprising space for my real “yes”.)

    And for 2013, this will be my year to practice the art of receiving. Serving and giving to others comes easy to me, but I’m not so good about receiving from others. This year I intend to make it easier for others to “give” to me.

    Reply
    • thanks, elaine. so great to hear from you. we talk about receiving a lot at the refuge, it’s so much easier to serve & give, which is great, but i think Jesus washed the disciples feet for a very important reason that wasn’t just to show them how to wash others. i really struggle with it, too, and i like that you called it (and these other things) an “art.” much love from colorado.

      Reply
  • My word is “grow.” Not from effort, but from phototropism … Turning toward the light, “grow” happens, slowly, imperceptibly, but just as promised …

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  • Oooh, this part made me tear up: “that we’d let go of trying to make sense of what can’t be made sense of and enjoy the ride a little more. that we wouldn’t turn back or wish for a different one. that we’d remember there’s something good in this world and it’s worth fighting for.” Yes, I play the comparison game waaaay too much, and the less than feeling doesn’t translate into anything productive for me.

    It is so interesting how easy it is to miss what *is* admirable. Like that one thing that you posted one time about how good moms have sticky floors and dirty ovens & happy kids. The people in your world could not have a better or more loyal friend, and I frankly could care less about the state of your house. But I can connect with that feeeling, for sure. I often feel like the refuge kids get jipped because we don’t have an indoor water slide and an animatronic puppet show. But (hopefully) they know that they are important to me and super loved!

    I am thinking that my one word for 2013 is going to be “nourish” .I am a fan of the idea, and I for sure feel like “secure” was helpful in more than one way in 2012. Here’s to the 2013 chapter! I am hoping my chapter for 2013 can be classified in the romantic comedy section. 🙂

    Reply
  • You and your writing are an outpost of reality for some of us. That
    includes me. If you’re crazy, so am I, but I prefer to think that we’re
    not. Thank you so very much for
    being you. You need not compare yourself to anyone and feel you’re less
    than them in any way. Stop it!

    Reply
  • 2012 has been hard. And dark. I’m thinking of the word “shimmer”, but haven’t decided for sure. I’m not sure I’m “brave” enough to actually “shine”! lol

    Reply
    • oh, i like that possibility. 2012 was a hard & dark year for a lot of people i know and am really hoping that 2013 brings more light. meanwhile, know you are so not alone even though it can feel like it. xo

      Reply
  • Kathy, your writing – and journey – is so refreshing and encouraging to me. Not crazy just honest. If I had a theme for 2013 it would be “appreciate.”

    Reply
  • Thanks for this Kathy! Yesterday we lost our dear pastor friend, Gib Martin and I found myself doing the “if only” thing way too much. If only we had tried to see him more when we were in Seattle, If only I had been able to have one last conversation with him! But, he knew I loved him and I knew he loved me and we both love Jesus and He is in such an amazing place right now! He has no regrets and lived a live full of people and love and that is my goal for 2013. My word is “love” – God has been working on me with that word anyway and it will honor Gib’s life if I can live it out in my own. Blessings to you in 2013 and can’t wait to see you next week!!

    Reply
    • sorry about the loss of your friend, patty. i remember you speaking of your love for him. it’s always a loss and glad you had such a loving and longterm friendship. beautiful. can’t lose with “love” 🙂 see you thursday!

      Reply

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