For the longest time I have described myself as unchosen.
Most of my life even.
Gack! What a word.
U N C H O S E N
That's one for a cardboard testimony! Calvinists would have a field day!
Dad unchose me. Brothers. Mother.
Then the worst. The one who chose me for better or worse.
Oh. But then I learned that guy never actually chose me in the first place. I mean. He did. He said he did. In sickness and health. But not really. He chose something, but not me. Not all of me. I was a tool. A charade. (But that is another post. Probably another book, actually. For another time.)
Can you be unchosen by someone who never actually chose you?
Not sure. Still ideating and feeling on that one.
Again. Another blog/book.
U N C H O S E N
Get that word in your mind. See it on that tattered cardboard. Feel it.
Have you ever felt it? Most of us have. How old were you the first time? How young were you is a better question? How short were you? How small?
For the dance. Unasked.
On the playground. Unpicked.
At home. Unhugged.
Some of us more than others.
What a word. When I say it--I was unchosen so many times in my life--I feel in my whole self what it felt like in those moments of realization of unchosenness. The wrenching in my gut, the tightness in my chest, hot tears at the ready. I can see my little feet dangling out of my blue robe, rocking back and forth wondering how long it had been since dad's last phone call. Would he ever choose to call again.
I don't think he did for many years. And then he didn't again. All of it all over again.
U N C H O S E N
So what goes on the other side of my tattered cardboard?
C H O S E N
God chose me, and God chooses you! That's the victory!
Funny thing about cardboard testimonies. You can write another word on the other side. A very true word. But they do not tell the story of brokenness that lies in the corrugation between the two words on either side of the cardboard. They belie the journey of heartache and healing among all the rows inside that tattered piece of cardboard.
They pretend to go from broken to beautiful in a single bound.
Don't get me wrong. I did my share of cardboard testimonies back in the day. Seriously, I am like the poster child for them. I've got a ton.
But here's the thing. The thing is the stories in the middle. Because when we get in the corrugations we sometimes discover that the words on one side (and maybe even the other) need some editing. And every good storyteller knows behind every great story stands a better editor!
Gack! What a word. Chosen on the other side sounds beautiful. But oh! so hard to believe when so much festers in the nooks and crannies between unchosen and chosen.
Words have power. I have written a lot of words and edited a lot of words these past two years as we birthed Surrendering to Hope. Throughout it all, this nasty word seemed to be everywhere. In so many of the stories I read and edited, as well as my own.
Good grief! Why are we all so good at unpicking, unasking, unhugging, UNCHOOSING each other?
Then a couple of weeks ago, after a few chats with a new friend, another word kept coming up.
Choose. Choose. Make a decision.
And I was the one saying it. I had chosen. I had laid things out and said. You know. This is me. It is pretty good. It's got warts. But also some lovely beauty marks. But it also has very clearly demarcated boundary lines.
Choose whether you can appreciate those boundaries. I know that I am worth the choice and I think you are too and I am okay if you do not agree.
Okay. So. That is not exactly the content, but that is the gist.
Then the weirdest thing ever happened.
My cardboard split wide open and I saw things I never saw before! I mean for real! I saw all the choosing I had done. All the places I felt unchosen--many of them were actually times when I said something a lot like the above and the person I said them to chose something else.
But I wasn't being unchosen. I was choosing. Choosing to value and be valued.
I was not unchosen in these scenarios.
I was a chooser.
C H O O S E R
Wow! Now there is a word I can get behind. That's a living word.
Sure sometimes people chose not to chose me.
But many many many more times the person I said the above words to did choose me. Stuck around. Still sticks around. And so with hundreds of people who chose me back, I have tremendously rich and beautiful relationships!
The little girl in the blue robe. She was unchosen by her daddy. She is still Chosen by the Father. Living that out remains a hard but worthy journey.
The wife who was never wanted for the wife she thought she was. Still working on the corrugations of that one. Another time, then.
But U N C H O S E N ?
No. That cardboard testimony has been edited. I am a chooser. I learned in the corrugations of my life to choose how I want to live, to be treated, and to treat others. Being unchosen was not among the habits I wanted to form or be formed by. I simply had not realized that being chosen by God my Father had taught me to value myself and others enough to be a chooser.
I did not realize the tattered cardboard has read, for many years now:
C H O O S E R
Does your cardboard need a bit of editing?