Let God be the author

I live my life in narrative. I love stories; they were the stuff and substance of my childhood, the things that framed my paradigm and gave shape to my dreams. Inside my head, there's always a story going. Often the stories beg to be tapped out onto the pages of my blog or this column or into the margins of my Bible. For the most part, I am at peace with my own stories.

Sometimes, though, without even intending to, I forget who the real Author is. I pray a prayer as if I were writing a preface. And then I fill in all the details while I wait for Him to answer according to my rough draft.

God answers every prayer - every single one. Sometimes, though, what He writes looks absolutely nothing like the story I've composed in my head. Sometimes, my prayer is a pleading, a begging for something that I'm just so sure is the perfect thing. I write the chapter for Him in my conversations with Him, and I'm careful to tie it all into a tidy bow.

Sometimes God's answer is a resounding "no." Sometimes, I pray a prayer, step out in faith, take a chance, offer myself to someone else, and sometimes, my upturned face of eagerness and wholehearted posture of earnestness is turned away. Sometimes my tidy narrative is rejected. That rough draft is awash in red ink and there is no choice but to begin anew and re-write.

To pray and pray and pray and offer God the perfect denouement at the crest of rising action and have it rejected is, at the very least, a bit of a blow. Of course, it isn't really God who rejects me in this scenario. Rejection usually comes at the hands of another person.

With rejection comes disappointment and worse, humiliation. Who witnessed that rejection? Who saw my story unravel? How many people know I dreamt that dream and wrote that story and it dissolved into a puddle at my feet? Then, humiliation reluctantly acknowledged, with rejection comes fear. Maybe it's just a little fear, a niggling doubt that I don't have the resilience to weather this bump in the road. Or maybe it's the staggering fear that I'm not good enough in this scenario, that I don't deserve the happy ending in my story. Finally, with rejection, comes sorrow. It hurts to be rejected.

Just as I want to crumble my narrative into a ball and hurl it across the room, I remember, this was a prayer and not novel. With this rejection, there's grace. When I've come to God with my story - when I've asked Him to make it the screenplay of my life - and I've done it in prayer and asked that He consider it all only in light of the good of my soul, I have to hear the firm, but loving, redirection in His "no." I have to hear His grace. I have to remember that as much as I write a running narrative in my head, I really want God to be the author.

Sometimes, many times, God allows rejection for my protection. People reject. God doesn't. God redirects. He takes His precious children - who have entrusted their stories to Him despite their plot-line prayers - and He lifts their chins, smudges tears away from their cheeks and asks them to see the story as He has written it. Rejection and God's protection are shining opportunities for growth.

In the quiet moment alone with the idea that this book I've written in my head isn't going be a motion picture in my life, I challenge myself to see the new direction - to look hard at it - and to embrace it. He has a better plan. He writes a much better story.

Foss, whose website is elizabethfoss.com, is a freelance writer from Northern Virginia.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015

@elizabethfoss