Sometime last year, the plot of a story popped into my head, in much the way it often does. I’m sitting (or standing), minding my own business, when a character of some sort determines his or her story should be told and refuses to leave me alone until I’ve written down the rough idea. Then this often unnamed character skirts the edge of my mind, whispering an idea here, a dialogue there, until the next story idea supersedes it and it becomes little more than a file tucked away in my computer until “someday.”
This particular story line followed a young man whose mother died when he was a tween. He had grown up believing that the world was an inherently good place, and that he and those he loved would last forever (a belief we all seem to hold somewhere, somehow, deep inside no matter how many facts and fictions tell us differently).
He came to the conclusion that if God couldn’t keep his mother safe, he would refuse to believe in such a character. He would dare this God-who-didn’t-exist to prove himself, though he didn’t consciously realize it. He would step into the most daring and dangerous situations he could imagine. 100 of them, to be exact.
If he survived them all … well, he didn’t really get that far in his thought processes. Because he didn’t even want to survive.
And of course, along the way, he met someone. With all the best marks of intelligence and gentleness and love.
She learned of his daring journey, and began to try to talk sense into him. He began to have second thoughts on his plan of willful insanity.
You’ve likely guessed by now that’s when he dies. And when the story really begins.
The video I posted last week, Live with Abandon, by the Newsboys, shows shots of some daring stunts. Okay, maybe I’m a wimp, but I don’t think I’d have the courage to surf. And parachuting? Bungee jumping? Rip lining? No, thank you.
It’s an awesome song, with a great message. But the video could be seen as a slight “visual misnomer.” All those daring and courageous stunts are a form of living with abandon. But like the character in my book-that-is-not-yet-written might find out (I’m not sure yet because I haven’t determined how the story will end), living dangerously and living courageously are two separate issues.
Running towards danger as a way to deal with grief or anger or bitterness is not the same as running towards danger to rescue someone perched at the edge of life and death. Living with abandon can be living with purpose, but not always.
Sometimes the greatest courage, the greatest abandon, is not in an outwardly daring act, but in a quiet decision or determination that no one even knows about. A choice to love. To forgive. To surrender. To open the heart. To discover what life is really all about. Not the physical adrenaline rush of jumping off a cliff and counting on a rope to hold you. But the spiritual rush of jumping off the edge of everything you’ve known or accepted or done or believed, and trusting in an unseen Hand to hold you up. To carry you. To show you what life is really all about. What Love is really all about.
And I think I’ve determined an ending for my story.