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On the Side - June 2016

The Whole Story
By Shelly Wyrick

In my hands I hold a story. An adventure sixteen years in the making. A story of love and faith and marriage. The narrative of a child being born. And another. And another. And yet another. The telling of 3 mission trips, a move halfway across the country, and then back again. It holds with heaviness the death of a beloved mother-in-law, and passing of several others.

This isn’t just any story. It’s our story.

Months before we were married, my husband wrote me a letter in a notebook he coined as our “spiritual journal.” Taking advice from his friend, he suggested we write back and forth to each other in this now raggedy spiral notebook about our struggles, thoughts, prayer requests, needs and breakthroughs. We started a year before medical school, and several notebooks later, we are still at it. We knew his school had the potential to pull us apart physically with all the hours he spent studying. The journal was a simple way to keep in touch when we were not together.

There’s some really big stuff in there. Good and bad. Rain and shine. Ugly and beautiful. Remarkable moments that changed our trajectory – like match day. But as I thumb through the pages, it is mostly filled with small stuff. Still, a lot of that small stuff seemed big at the time. Here’s the take away: the majority of what we have faced is relatively minor from the perspective of the whole story.

Maybe this summer you’re facing big changes. You survived match day and now you are packing boxes.  Maybe you’re going somewhere you never wanted to go. You, like me, had to look at a map before you really even knew where that city is located. And it left such an impression the first time you visited that you resolved never to return. And now you’re filling a small U-Haul to move your life there.

Or maybe this summer you’re weary of the same-old-same-old. Gone are the days of having summers off.  Residency does not break for good weather. You’re tired of tiptoeing around the apartment when he’s finally sleeping after being awake and working for who-knows-how-long. And when your toddler asked the logical question about Dad living at the hospital, it ripped a small hole in your heart. Yes, he does eat dinner there. Yes he does sleep there. No he doesn’t live there. It was a small question, but caused an avalanche in your innermost being.

Whatever it is you face this summer, I can tell you, it’s mostly small stuff in the big picture. This heaviness is only a chapter in your story. It’s not THE story. It doesn’t (have to) define who you are. Maybe it’s only a paragraph. Or even a sentence. Regardless, it’s not your whole story.

It’s not even your story. Might I suggest you’re not even the Main Character in the big story? Which is a good thing, because you, in your weakness, would muck it up when compared to the Author of life.  While it’s true you chose your ending when you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior, it’s also true that the ending is utterly dependent on Him. And His victory.  Let’s not forget how this goes down, the greatest love story. The ending is secured…we win. We win because the Main Character won in for us. And “If God is for us, who is against us”(Rom 8:31)?

The Main Character loves you deeply. Jesus knows you better and loves you better than you could ever know or love yourself. He knows how this chapter ends. He knows it’s just a chapter, and He knows how you will be refined and may eventually praise Him for it, if you trust Him to your core. So trust Him. Stand up, suck in your gut and resolve to trust Him with this chapter. Whatever you are facing may seem huge, but in your mind – remember it’s only a chapter, or a paragraph, or a sentence in your life. This thing, whether big or just seemingly big, might shape the story ahead, but it is not THE story. Make Him the story. And remember. We win. Romans 8:28 says it well, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” We can’t read ahead, but we know God, in His mercy, His grace, and His everlasting loving-kindness can work even the worst chapters for good, in the end.

Heavenly Father, help us. Help us to serve our spouses and those around us wholeheartedly.  Help us to view our circumstance in light of eternity, and give us the faith, trust, and humility we need to allow You, the Author and Perfector, to write our stories. Help us to point to you in every word of our lives.  Amen.

Shelly Wyrick is a physical therapist turned stay-at-home-mom of four in Spokane Washington.  She loves this chapter of His story, despite the three feet of hand-me-downs that currently flood her “office.” In her spare time she pursues her husband, running, music, and being out of doors with little people.

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