Last night, I read about the narrative form of film and, of course, time plays a key role in story-plot development of a movie. There are a few time tools but one important tool is temporal order which decides the sequencing of the events. Sequence helps viewers understand story events for its causes and effects. We get to experience the lives of many characters because film directors make creative storytelling decisions that involve us as viewers. Sometimes the directors decide to show us the ending before revealing the causes that led up to it. Another option is to present story-plot events completely out of order, usually for mind-bending effects. Most times we watch a story unravel chronologically, this is great for simple cause-and-effect demonstration.
For most people, including me, life events seem to unfold out of order. Not because we can freeze and rewind time, but because our individual story hardly takes the expected chronological shape we dream of. We are not the privileged director curating a grand story that makes perfect sense nor are we the viewer piecing details together for entertainment. We are the characters who often experience heartache, stress, and confusion as we live our stories out.
The perfect narrative sounds like somebody who built a marvelous career, backed by an incredible degree and volunteer work. They are secure financially because young adults are wizards at saving money. They have received multiple promotions because they are star employees. They are nearing 30 with a beautiful house, car and a fabulous beach wedding under works. With an equally amazing spouse, they will have two kids, a sturdy savings, decent 401k plans, annual vacations…yeah, you already know the rest.
Yuck, right? This story is always too good to be true because we are human and life is not a movie.
Falling out of line with the perfect story shattered me when I finally got a grip. When God slowed everything down, I was able to see from third person POV that I was actually making my own mess. Only as a viewer, was I able to understand the cause-and-effect of my own life.
“Indeed, we all make many mistakes…”
Today we open with the beginning of my story! I don’t want to mind-bend myself so I am going to make things easy by following a chronological sequence that starts a year ago. Note that in future blog posts, I may refer to older personal history but for now we will keep things time-relevant to my pregnancy.
Looking back a year ago: I was a complete mess. A category 5 hurricane with a pretty smile and a talent for acting. Acting like everything was okay. Pretending every heart desire was pure, every intuition was sound, every action was valid. My improvised happiness was so good, I fooled myself. Somehow, I believed I was entitled to do whatever I wanted.
Things were bad and I could no longer escape my depression, at the time I associated it with alcohol. After a solid year of alcoholism, I stopped going to school (Fall 2017) because I believed the stress of it made me drink.
How did I manage to waste $4000 from a research internship in one summer? Why was I released from my other research position even though I could not remember the last day I was sober? When did I decide that I was going to drop out of college? To “become an artist”? What made me hate the profession I have been pursuing since high school? Where am I going to find my prince charming?
I ended up getting a job that was coincidental enough to be divine order. And everything seemed great. I left my friends (including mentors/professors) behind, got completely sober, and was now making a decent hourly wage. I was an honorable self-healer with academic talents, emotional intelligence and could now wriggle into whatever field I wanted. My fitness and diet was on-par. Honestly, I was capable to do anything by and for myself. Loving myself was my only priority.
Here is a Christ-based post that explains why loving yourself is misguiding.
At the time, being alone gave me a sense of superiority. But, this was all wrong. It was false strength.
“…That is why Scripture says:
‘God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.’”
My head got so big after I freed myself from society’s chains by leaving the university to do things independently, my way…although I had no idea what “my way” was. According to my limited perspective, a cosmic order was working in my favor because I cleaned up.
The holiday season had just begun when things started to get rough at work. My coworkers warned me about our managers’ attitudes hinting at something. Naturally, my response was dismissive.
Sure enough, it came to me. I was proud about defending myself, especially because I knew they were bullying others. As much as I hate to admit it, this was also wrong.
“Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything you do. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Serve them sincerely because of your reverent fear of the Lord. 23 Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”
This sermon speaks about the importance of work and clarifies the use of the word slave.
The Lord brought this verse to me, via a work friend, when tensions in the boutique were high. In defense, I disregarded God and blew my friend off. God needed to humble me.
I got fired three weeks later…
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”