A life well lived is a beautiful thing. And the ability to share that experience with others via words and film is an equally beautiful art.
I was reminded of that this past week when I attended a viewing of “To Joey, With Love,” a documentary by Rory Feek. The movie chronicles the love story of husband-and-wife singing duo Joey+Rory, focusing on the birth of their daughter as well as Joey’s battle with cancer that ultimately claimed her life.
Before watching the movie, I was well aware of Rory’s talent as a songwriter and storyteller via his music and blog. But I was deeply touched by how he communicated this incredible story on the big screen through a mix of words, videos and music.
There was an incredible amount of life in this film. So much joy in the midst of deep sadness, smiles in the midst of tears. One of the biggest rays of light was the couple’s daughter Indiana, born with Down Syndrome, who brought laughter and a sense of purpose to their days.
And the family continued to celebrate every day as a gift. They savored the simple pleasures of enjoying a meal around a table, as well as the grander gifts such as Rory surprising Joey with a pair of horses on her 40th birthday where they shared their “first and last ride together.” They made it their mission to live and love well with whatever time they had.
It was heart-wrenching, but also deeply inspiring because of their steadfast belief that God gave them a good story.
Which leads me to another writer who recently left me with a jumbled mess of feelings – Glennon Doyle Melton.
I’ve loosely followed her blog over the years and read her first book, Carry On, Warrior during the summer. There was one particular section that convinced me to take a leap of faith with this blog: “If anywhere in your soul you feel the desire to write, please write. Write as a gift to yourself and others. Everyone has a story to tell. Writing is not about creating tidy paragraphs that sound lovely or choosing the ‘right’ words. It’s just about noticing who you are and noticing life and sharing what you notice. When you write your truth, it is a love offering to the world because it helps us feel braver and less alone…”
So I was extremely excited to be a recipient of an early copy of her newest book, Love Warrior, (thanks to a giveaway via GoodReads) about her journey of self-discovery while fighting for her marriage. I happened to receive the book in early August, the same week she announced she was separating from her husband.
I was surprised by the emotional response I experienced with this news. I was shocked. A bit sad. Confused. Disappointed.
After allowing my feelings and questions to simmer a bit, I was gently reminded of one thing—God is never shocked. While I see only a little glimpse of others’ lives, He sees the whole picture.
Whether it’s the death of a loved one, a damaged relationship or the destruction of a dream, God is the Author. He writes the endings… which very well may be the beginning of something new and extraordinary.
When I finally picked up the book, I had a hard time putting it down. Glennon’s writing is so authentic, so hilarious, so raw that you feel yourself being drawn into a very intimate journey.
There were so many relatable pieces in her story, but I most appreciated Glennon’s revelation on how the biblical definition of woman, most often interpreted as helper, can also be translated as warrior.
She cited that the original Hebrew word for woman used in the early chapters of the Bible, Ezer, has two roots – strong and benevolent. In doing her own research and referencing others, she discovered that Ezer is used twice to refer to the first woman, three times to refer to strong military forces and 16 times in reference to God in the Old Testament.
The strength Glennon found in this revelation helped redefine her identity as an image bearer of God as well as a co-creator with God to make beauty out of nothing. This knowledge provided a framework for evaluating her experiences and discovering her unique calling as a woman.
She wrote, “I know my name now. Love warrior. I came from love and I am love and I will return to love. Love casts out fear. A woman who has recovered her true identity as a Love Warrior is the most powerful force on earth.”
All interesting narratives include some aspects of conflict as well as self-discovery. The above-mentioned stories were no exception. Whether it was a fight against death or a struggle for authenticity, both authors courageously shared their heart and, in return, opened my eyes to other love warriors, both men and women, in my midst…
Families who foster children in need of a safe, stable environment.
Women who deliver meals to families celebrating newborns or mamas mourning miscarriages.
Teachers and cafeteria workers who provide safe places for students’ minds and bodies to be fed.
Teens defending and befriending kids with special needs at their schools.
Addition counselors, hospice volunteers, animal advocates… the list of warriors could go on and on.
And the fight for good in this world will continue as long as people show up with compassion, extend grace in a broken world, provide hope in times of great need.
To bring a bit of God’s Kingdom to earth.
To battle on behalf of love.
To live a good story.