Anger & Forgiveness

Comfort for Your Not-So-Dramatic Messy Story

Jonathon M. Seidl

March 28, 2024 | 3 minute read

When you think about your life story, what comes to mind? I mean, really think about it. 

Chances are, if you’re honest with yourself, you realize it’s messy. Or at least a little messy, right? But that doesn’t necessarily mean dramatic. Maybe you didn’t have some big rock-bottom moment. Maybe you didn’t have to do a complete U-turn in life. Maybe you didn’t have to start completely over. 

If that’s you – if you have “just” an ordinarily messy story – then this post is for you.

We love stories of transformation. Conversion. Redemption. The addict who swears off cocaine in dramatic fashion. The alcoholic who finds Jesus and becomes sober. The college student that was sleeping around, has an encounter with God and then changes. We love the "Saul to Paul" stories from the Bible. 

In fact, we have a lot of stories like that here at I Am Second. And we should. Those stories are good. They’re encouraging for a lot of us.

But you know what we also want to celebrate? We want to celebrate the woman who grew up a Christian and, over the course of decades, grows in her faith — who realizes the "small" things she struggles with need to stop. The man who grew up in the church and, as he ages, realizes what he needs to work on and actually does it. The child who knew all the Bible verses and later became convicted of those verses and decided to truly pursue God at 35. 

Those stories are ones of sanctification. Sanctification may sound like a churchy word, but it has a fairly simple meaning. It’s the continual process of becoming more and more like Jesus. Of realizing that even the "boring" life requires work. But those stories are not dramatic. Sure, they involve ups and downs, stops and starts, but they're not what movies are made up of. 

The problem? A lot of people have a "boring" story. The story of slow and gradual life transformation. Of "long obedience in the same direction," as author Eugene Peterson puts it. And they are just as necessary as the dramatic ones.

Don't get me wrong: The "boring" stories surely contain dramatic moments. I'm getting ready to share one like that in my own life. But they're not the type of stories we always gravitate towards, at least not in the traditional sense. 

But they're just as real. And just as important. Why? Because for every dramatic U-turn there are hundreds, if not thousands, of stories of tiny course corrections that are needed to get you to your ultimate destination. 

Listen, I celebrate the U-turns. My friend, Jordan Rogers, has a story of a dramatic U-turn featured right here on I Am Second. And he's doing so much good in the world right now. We need those stories; we need his story. 

But too many people are struggling to find their way because they're veering off course and justifying it (either consciously or subconsciously) by knowing they don't need to make a U-turn. All the while, the slight variation in their steering wheel is bringing them to a dark place instead of a place of rest, hope and fulfillment. 

Maybe from a young age, they started out driving north (or they made that decision later in life, but it didn't involve a sudden change in direction). They can see the destination through their windshield. But somewhere along the way they veered, ever so slightly, so that they're now headed north by northeast. The destination is in their peripheral vision instead of right in front of them. Sure, they'll still end up where they need to. Eventually. But the route they're taking — the exit they took — is filled with a lot of pain. It's the "scenic route," but that route is complete with broken roads, potholes, flooded bridges and danger. 

Friend, I think that's many of our stories. We veer slightly off course, and then learn the hard way how hard that route is. We stop at gas stations to fill up that look like restful truck stops but are actually seedy, roach-infested motels. And we stay way too long. 

Maybe that's you. Maybe you've realized that you've veered of course. Can I tell you something? It's much easier to make a course correction NOW rather than later. The more you continue down this back road, the greater the cost will be when you have to get back on track. I've learned that the hard way. 

Whatever it is that's caused you to go off course, you have to recognize it. Maybe it's a substance, maybe it's a person, maybe it's "things," money or anger. Whatever it is, I'm imploring you to take stock now. Pull the car over. Check your map. Realize where you are, and then make a plan to get back. 

Here's the good news: You have the best navigation system — the best GPS — available to you. His name is Jesus. And if you're willing to listen to what he's telling you, you won't be lost. Even if it seems like it, you won't be lost. The road back may be narrow. It may seem even harder. In fact, it will. But the destination will be worth it. I promise you, the destination will be worth it. And the best part is he will be with you through it all.

And your story? Well, maybe it won't sound dramatic to anyone else, but you'll know how truly beautiful it is. How hard it was to chart a new course. The obedience and dying to self that it took.

And that, my friend, is a story worth telling. A story the world needs. You just don't realize it yet.

Jonathon M. Seidl

Jonathon M. Seidl

Jonathon M. (Jon) Seidl is a writer, speaker, and digital media strategist. He’s the author of the #1 bestseller, Finding Rest: A Survivor’s Guide to Navigating the Valleys of Anxiety, Faith, and Life.

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