Tonight whilst sitting in DQ, I contemplated life. (There’s something about being at Dairy Queen that makes one philosophical, I guess.) Being alone in DQ consuming an ice cream treat which shall remain nameless was kind of embarrassing, so I buried my face in my ice cream and checked out FB. FB and I are not so in to each other these days, but I do admit when I get on, I stay on waaaaay longer than I should.
Anyway, one thing that I really enjoy about FB is the chance to read many of my friends’ good stories. Last night, as I perused the posts, several good stories caught my attention. Some made me laugh. A couple made me cry. All of them left me wondering, what makes a story good?
When I was a kid, my favorite type of good story was of the teenage-dreamy- romance genre. You know the one: girl meets boy, boy wins girl’s heart, they fight, make up and, in the end, join the ranks of the eternal lovers. Admittedly, my heart did a few somersaults when the heralded couple partook of their first kiss.
As I grew up and dreamy-young-love books fell to the wayside, I found some new favorite stories at the movie theater. The Green Mile; Shawshank Redemption; The Karate Kid; Star Wars—Return of the Jedi. (Boy, Luke was a hottie back then.)
Often in a state of bliss, I would return home to my mom and gush over my new favorite "story." But when I recommended one I thought she’d really like she would usually poo-poo me, roll her eyes, and say something like, “Why would I want to watch drama and sadness for entertainment. There’s enough bad stuff in the world already. I don’t need to be entertained by it. Give me a movie that will make me laugh. I’ll take that any day.”
At the time, I thought Mom was horribly unsophisticated and a fan of all things cheesy when it came to a good story. Here’s the deal though. Now that I’m older, I kind of get her point. The world is full of lousy stories, sad stories—stories that make us cringe, crawl into our bunkers, and isolate ourselves from the enemy.
As I watch these truly sad stories unfold, my heart sinks. Another shooting, riot, murder, devastating earthquake, or hurricane has struck leaving crushed, bruised, and broken victims. These stories leave me reaching for the remote wishing we paid for cable so I could tune into the Hallmark Channel—a network full of cheesy-only-happy-ending stories. These days I’ll take a good story over a dark-themed-thought-provoking one any day of the week, and twice on Sundays.
Hope. That’s what makes a story a good story. Because if we don’t have hope, what’s the point of carrying on? No, hope has to be at the center of every good story. I know it’s at the center of mine.
For twenty-nine years I went undiagnosed, untreated, trying to fool everyone into thinking I was A-OK . . . even though I wasn’t. I was too scared to ask for help, afraid that if people could see the chaos going on inside of me, they would lock me in a loony bin. At least that’s what I told myself.
So I put on a fake smile and shared pleasantries with all around. Meanwhile, thoughts of suicide, countless sleepless manic nights, racing thoughts, crippling depression and anxiety left me unsettled ninety-nine percent of my days.
The curse of being undiagnosed bipolar snowballed and snowballed until the night when everything inside of me died, everything except hope. The best-worst night of my life when I was hospitalized in a psychotic state, throwing garbage cans at police, fighting against restraints, and finally, being committed to a place reserved for crazies.
So this blog is the place where I’ll be sharing the hope that kept me going. My thoughts, ideology, faith experiences, and so much more will be here waiting for you as often as you need them. I’m writing again because I want you to take my stories and run with the hope that’s at the center of each one.
Hope is what got me through all of those dark times—the messy parts of my life. And as I grew, hope grew. I pray you find the same is true for you. So, here’s to hope and here’s to many more years of sharing the hopeful stories that make up my beautiful life.