The Pain When Real Life Unravels…and Why I Write About It Anyway

by a thread
“By a Thread 5” by TACLUDA

Something frustrating/painful/paradoxical about writing books about your life is that storylines you had sewn up at book’s end can, and do, unravel in real life. I’m dealing with that now.

My memoir is sewn up, edited, on its way to press…as far as paper and ink go…but in real life, this one thread of my story is refusing to stay put. That thread is a “character” in my book, a family member, whom I left at a good spot–and whose relationship with me ended in a good spot. But now the relationship…the character…it’s all just unraveling. And I am crushed.

That’s the thing about a happy ending in a work of non-fiction. Unlike the ending of a novel, the story can change. Happy can turn to sad, resolved to unresolved.

It’s times like these when I can start to wonder, Why did I even bother? Why did I go to the trouble to try to organize and understand and “sew up” my story? Happy endings in real life can’t really be sewn up anyway…can they?

Can they?

I wrote a book about overcoming depression. About moving past family dysfunction. About finding joy and new starts in the sinful, yet beautiful world around me.

And now this piece of my conclusion is unraveling, a piece of my life that originally caused much of my depression, contributed to my family’s dysfunction, and seemed to suggest that life would never–could never–change for the better.

What does that mean for my book, and for me? Does it mean that I am a fraud, my book a farce? Does this make my message of “new life” a bunch of baloney? Does it mean that depression can’t be overcome? That dysfunction can’t be left behind? That joy can’t be found?

If I give in to my gut reaction (this is terrible!), if I listen to my heart (I’m so sad, I feel so depressed), or if I trust the words Satan whispers in my ear (why get up today? Look at the junk I have to face…), then I can easily jump to those conclusions.

But if I remember the most important storyline of my book–the real message–then hope revives.

My Reasons for Hope

One of my favorite chapters in my book is my chapter called “Rebirth,” where, amidst the backdrop of this same thread unraveling that I’m currently blogging about (it’s been a recurring, unraveling thread in my life story, you see), I begin the habit of daily prayer, Bible reading, and Bible memorization. As I learn, my attitude, my mood, and my inner peace (or lack thereof) do not have to be determined by my outward circumstances. After three weeks of me meditating on God’s promises, that stubborn thread remains as stubborn as ever…but I have experienced a genuine heart transformation: after ten-plus years of depression, I no longer feel depressed!

And that is the overarching thread in my story–that we can learn to hear and operate in God’s truth even when Satan is attacking us with his fiery darts; we can embrace a new life on the inside even when life on the outside hurts. 

Beyond that, if we are faithful to God, he promises that one day we can have a new life not only on the inside, but also on the outside. The Bible says that if we believe in Jesus and give our lives and hearts to him, these sad stories down here are not our final stories. One day Jesus will “wipe away every tear”; in other words, he will sew up our stories for good and lay to rest those stubborn threads that keep tripping us up and pulling us down.

These truths are narrative threads that can never unravel.

And yet.

Sometimes hearing these truths don’t help much. Sometimes these Bible promises, if spoken lightly and out of context, seem like an insensitive slap in the face of our very real, very present pain. And that’s exactly why, I maintain, we need the sad stories along with the Bible promises.

My story of overcoming depression, moving on from dysfunction, is not a farce, and I am not a fake. The fact that one of my threads has unraveled again, again causing me much pain, is not a reason to hide my past story of suffering and overcoming; it is a reason to celebrate it. My story Ending the Pain has become a precious record of the Lord’s intervention at a desperate time, and now I can reread it to find hope for the present and future.

If I had not written the story, I might be tempted to forget that the Lord works in wonderful and mysterious ways even when, especially when, the threads of our lives seem to be unraveling.

Here on planet earth, until it becomes the New Earth, threads unravel all the time; things fall apart. So let’s not to forget to celebrate those strong, unbreakable cords of love that have held us together in the past…and that can hold us together today and tomorrow, no matter what falls apart around us.




10 thoughts on “The Pain When Real Life Unravels…and Why I Write About It Anyway

  1. Paul Coneff February 1, 2016 / 2:48 pm

    Powerful writing. Powerful sharing. Filled with the reality of hope in a messy world filled with ups and downs, twists and turns. I can’t wait for your book to come out, not just to buy it, but to share it with others in my ministry and on my website. Thanks so much for sharing so openly and honestly in a way that inspires hope.

    • lindseygendke February 1, 2016 / 4:33 pm

      Paul, thank you for reading and being such an encouragement. It
      has been a life-changing privilege to work with your ministry. I hope the book will supply others with some of the same comfort I received when I first learned all about fruit and root and our Suffering Messiah!

  2. ccyager February 1, 2016 / 3:53 pm

    Hi, Lindsey, sorry to hear about the unraveling, which as I understand it, happened due to another person’s actions. It is a universal truth that an individual can only control him or herself and no one else. An individual can control his or her thoughts, emotions and behavior but no one else’s. Maybe what this unraveler is doing or has done is more about him or her than anyone else. Focus on what you can control — yourself — and then go with the flow with everything else. You can influence, if people are open to it, but it’s not possible to control.

    Sometimes when a person returns to my life, or a situation, it means that I have yet to learn what I need to learn from them. That has more to do with me than anyone else. So I try to re-examine my life, ask myself why this thing is happening again, and what do I need to learn from it. The answers are all inside us if we’re open to listening for them.


    • lindseygendke February 1, 2016 / 4:39 pm

      Hi Cinda, yes indeed, this unraveling is from an external source, and I totally think it is all about them. Too bad actions of others can hurt our hearts and lives so much. I fear I don’t have the answers on this one, and may never have them, and may never fully understand why this recurs…but I do agree I cannot control. Focusing on what I can do is all I can do, in addition to tapping into my faith. Thanks for weighing in!

  3. Steve Austin February 1, 2016 / 5:46 pm

    Those darn unraveling characters and storylines! Sometimes I wish I could write them all back into behaving exactly like I want. Then I’m reminded I’m not the Author or the Finisher, but I know who is! This is a fantastic piece of writing, as usual, Lindsey. Thank you.

    • lindseygendke February 2, 2016 / 9:33 am

      Lol! Yes, so hard to corral those characters and storylines! Your comment made me laugh. I, too, often want to control the things around me…but then I realize I really wouldn’t want to be in charge of all the hard decisions of life. God knows best, and I don’t. So glad he is not only the Author and Finisher of our faith, but of our stories, too. It’s not up to me to write the ending. Thanks for reading!

      • Steve Austin February 2, 2016 / 9:41 am

        Yes ma’am! Glad you got a chuckle out of it. I really enjoy your storytelling. We are definitely of the same Tribe. Have a great day!

      • lindseygendke February 2, 2016 / 11:01 am

        You as well, Steve! Blessings!

  4. howsyourlovelife February 1, 2016 / 9:49 pm

    I’ve noticed in sharing our story that I want to wrap it up neatly and have it all make sense and work for good, but my life is still going, I’m not at the end, so there’s no reason to expect the best package that I desire. We are messy people dealing with messy people, we’re not going to understand 100% because it’s not all about us, or up to us to understand. I like what a previous commenter said, you are in control of your part only.

    • lindseygendke February 2, 2016 / 9:30 am

      Thanks for weighing in. Yes, there is the ongoing tension of wanting to find the lesson in everything, but not being able to because the lesson is still unfolding. This is where faith and reliance on God sure comes in handy!

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