Sometimes the good parts are not what we expect.
Most would recognize that the good parts of a story are the crisis points—the places where the pivotal characters face pivotal situations that mark and mar and often change the entire trajectory of the story. It’s the moment of peril that sets the stage for the heroic rescue. It’s the crossroads of decision between restoration of relationship and walking away. It’s the chaos that uncovers the deeper desires of the heart.
But we apply different standards to our own lives, don’t we? We tend to see the good parts as the celebration moments or the milestones that go into the photo albums. The question is whether those are really the good parts or just the closing scene of a story—like the hero and the fair maiden riding off into the sunset together or the happily ever after moment.
Is it possible that the good parts are really the difficult places in life that shape our stories and give depth and gravity to the peaceful moments?
One of the key soundtracks of my life the last couple of years has been Andy Grammer’s album, The Good Parts. It’s full of great music and some really fantastic lyrics. (I’ve written about his stuff before.) The title track grips me every time it rolls across my ear.
These words resound to me:
Show me where it hurts Give me something real Lead me to the part of you that never really heals Say the words that burn when they leave your mouth Tell me your story but don’t leave the good parts outAndy Grammer, The Good Parts
To be honest, I’ve lost a lot of patience with shallow relationships that never seem to get past the superficial stuff. Andy seems to express the same in this song.
I know that some will push back on this idea. Some don’t see any need—or at least not much—to go deeper into the real stuff of the heart. But consider this quote from C. S. Lewis:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves
It looks to me like the wise Mr. Lewis would agree. To love is to be vulnerable. That means showing the real stuff of our lives—even where it hurts. It is to acknowledge the parts of life we don’t really have figured out. We have to learn to share the things that seem risky to trust to another person. We need to share our stories without omitting the things that give them depth and significance.
But that brings me back to the question: are those difficult things that we have survived, endured, been shaped by, have scars from… the good parts?
I’ve heard it said that every scar tells a story—at the very least a story of survival.
If you were rescued from some terrible peril, wouldn’t that situation be the thing that endeared your rescuer to your heart? I think so. Wouldn’t the endearment be on the same scale as the peril itself?
It reminds me of something Jesus said when a woman of ill repute came into the house where Jesus was dining with a religious leader and ministered so intimately to Jesus—washing his feet with her own tears, pouring an extravagant ointment upon him. Jesus pointed out to this expert in the law that this woman who had been forgiven so much loves so much more than one who has been forgiven little. (Luke 7.36-50)
The Samaritan woman at the well in John 4 went running into the city shouting, “Come see a man who told me all that I ever did.” It was precisely because of her desperate need that she was so excited for the provision.
When I look at the story of my life, I recognize that the good parts are all the places where God’s provision met me at my greatest need—moments of depression, destructive choices, relationships in peril, faith crises, and so on.
If I tell you my story, I won’t leave the good parts out. Want to meet me there?