Living History

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It was the start to a truly great love story. A boy. A girl. A chase through the rain…

I was 19 and running through the pounding rain. The library could be seen through the science buildings about 100 yards away. My legs were getting tired. They had carried me out of my dorm room, down three flights of stairs and across campus in a mad dash.

But I was driven.

You see, there was this boy. He’d been crazy about me for some time, but I was just too slow to see it. A million reasons and excuses blocked my view of the good thing right in front of me. I had dreams and ideals that I stubbornly clung to.

What if I  could meet a guy in Italy instead? What if a stranger with a killer accent approached me from across a crowded room? What if my dream job will get replaced by falling in love? What if this is the peak of life – and it’s just all downhill from here? What if this story is really a tragedy?

The soundtrack to my own life was drowned out by my  self-doubts. It was safer to fall in love in my head. Things always went my way – I never had a bad hair day or said awkward things on dates. And, of course, he was always charming. Any argument was resolved by the arrival of a large bouquet of my favorite flowers.  Love in my imagination always worked out.

Truth be told, I always played it safe in real life. Friendships, goals, career plans, my social life – you name it. Always lived in the realm of my control.

Yet, another life was happening in my mind. I was bold. A vibrant soul who made the witty comments and traveled the borders. A life full of chances and risks that made my heart pound and my mind race. The kind of daring that only comes when you really, truly understand just how much this life holds within it. That was the life I lived in my mind.

And that was the kind of love story I wrote inside my head. One of risk. Of being so in love it didn’t matter what he said back. My tongue just had to utter the words.

I don’t know what exactly came over me during that thunderstorm. I guess God hit me upside the head enough that the narrative burst and exposed the truth in front of me. I liked the boy back. And I had to tell him. Now. I had to tell him right now.

He normally studied in the library at night so I took off across campus to find him. I didn’t have a cell phone at the time, so I went blindly.

Soaked to the bone and out of breath I ran into the library. I know I must have looked a mess, but I didn’t care. I had something to say to a boy. For about 30 minutes I roamed the aisles of books, peeked in the reading cubicles and scanned the study groups. He wasn’t there.

I headed back out into the storm. A smile flashing across my face at the absurdity of it all. Back through the rain to my car. I drove to his house. Knocked on the door. Dripping wet, I stood before him and blurted out “I like you.”.

This spring we will have been married 15 years. 

So often we miss the story before us because of a preoccupation with our internal narrative. We have clever conversations with others inside our minds, live daring adventures and feel emotions deep in our bones. So deep it is almost terrifying – but we are safe because it isn’t real. It’s just a fantasy we feed to satisfy the hunger within.

Our hunger for the life we imagine.

It’s time to do and become. It’s time to live the stories we write in our heads. 

Real life hurts sometimes. Makes you want to curl up on the floor and cry out for some relief.  There are years where the failures just seem to keep piling on. The friendships are intertwined with rejection and love has to be fought for day in and day out. Plans crumble before your eyes and our lifelines fray at alarming rates.

But, live we must. Because we are made to do it. Because for every tragic turn there is a persistent Hope that whispers, “It’s gonna get better and I’ll hold you until it does.”.

Go on. Hash out the stories you’ve been writing in your head. Hold the hands of the people who walk beside you. Create the adventures you crave in that nearly forgotten part of your soul. Give grace to yourself and others along the way – you’re gonna need it.

Your history cannot be borrowed. It must be lived.

Liz Griffin