This is what I wrote on Facebook on 13 April during a rather taxing holiday. I'd been posting regularly about it, trying to make the best of it. (Yes I forgot I was on blogger and wrote it as a Facebook note.)
The Hopkins 6 on Holiday. The Untold Story. Or, Why I'm Not That Wonderful.
If you followed the ins and outs of our recent holiday (thank you) there's a whole parallel story that coexists with and even underpins our adventures. I can no longer keep the untold story, er, untold as some of you are thinking we're some kind of uber family or I'm an amazing person, which tempting as it might be to pat myself on the back in supercilious smugness whilst boosting my ego with the likes, it just won't wash. The events of that week, my family, me: we're part of a much greater story, a very minor subplot in a story so ancient it goes back to Before Time.
But first, why aren't I amazing? Well I am of course. We all are. Yes, even you. Really. Each of us is gloriously created in God's image, reflecting all that is good, pure, exhilarating yet also each of us is looking over our shoulders, banished from Eden, so very far from perfect. Who hasn't been disappointed with themselves? Disgusted with themselves? We can't just shake it off. It doesn't work like that. Of course we can bury it, push it down and down until we hardly hear it, but it's there. Me? Amongst other awful things, my natural bent is to moan, complain, think I'm hard done by, think the world owes me. Things go wrong? I'm a victim. Why me? Why my family? It's not fair.
Then enter centre stage, where he should be in this story, Jesus. He wrote the story, is the story. All our stories are subplots that only make sense if we know the Full Story, the True Story. In the beginning. He was there. Jesus. A love story. Then: betrayal. Action and adventure, indeed, choose your own adventure. Destiny calling. (Make of that what you will. Happy to discuss free will vs predestination in a PM! ) The back story leading up to him and the Greatest Story Ever Told and the author bursting into the scene itself, the 4th Wall broken and Jesus as the leading man, but in no way best actor for it was no act, no imitation. The real-est, most true story ever. Then skipping forward a bit, moving on some 2000 odd years and oh! It's me, alone, not good enough, my natural bent choosing misery and insecurity. Until I noticed his hand that had been held out all along and I took it and he pulled me up from the pit and I followed him, clean now, my spirit lighter. Free. Jesus.
And so began the changing. If I at all have a positive outlook on life it is as a direct result of my relationship with Jesus and him changing me to be more like him. I can't take the credit. My new nature is not completely installed yet as my old self returning to old habits causes it to buffer, but over time and with prayer the percentage bar goes in the right direction.
So you see, it's not me, it's him. Plus, my family hasn't got it all together either. Remember, Facebook is a filter. I only put on my timeline what I want on my timeline. My family is dysfunctional at times. Relationships fractured. The Mister taken for granted because I'm not thankful. Parenting found wanting. Children behaving so hideously we almost came home 4 days early from our holiday. No joke. No exaggeration. Desperate prayers from The Mister and I outside the car while they were strapped in the car, and this before the shambolic beginning of our stay on the last holiday park. No I didn't put that on Facebook. I filtered it. It's not perfect because we're not perfect. But there is grace.
And what grace we were shown that holiday, from a lovely time in St Andrews and with my friend Caroline Main to much nicer accommodation in Craig Tara and 2 extra nights. But there's more than that. It could be viewed as coincidence that, having booked Monday to Friday in Craig Tara, for no good reason we added on a trip to St Andrews the weekend before rather than the weekend after. Had we been going on to somewhere AFTER Craig Tara, we wouldn't have been able to extend our stay there. It could be viewed as just one of those things that I ran out of time before going away to schedule a grocery delivery for the day after our return, and it was just as well, as we stayed away 2 extra nights. It could be wishful thinking, a flight of fancy, that kept me awake a fair while once we'd moved accommodation, (praying, choosing to be thankful instead of moaning) planning to speak to the park manager in the morning to complain politely about what we'd been through, and that in my spirit I knew, just knew that if I asked for it we would be staying an extra night to make up for it. In my spirit it was a done deal. The Facebook status update already half formed. Then, the next morning, manager Charlene shaking her head and saying they were fully booked. Oh. I must have been wrong. But a refund for the night plus £50 vouchers isn't a failure, so don't be greedy. Be thankful. 2 hours later and we knew we were staying TWO extra nights not one. Double for our trouble. Then of course with The Mister and Biscuit goodness knows where admitted to the children's ward in hospital on the Thursday night, how glad we were not to be packing up and leaving the next morning. I choose to know these aren't coincidences, wishful thinking, just one of those things. It was all planned, written long ago into the story.
Why did God write in the tonsillitis, my baby suffering? I don't know and probably never will. Am I sad for Biscuit (and The Mister who barely slept and wielded the thermometer as if his life depended on it)? Of course. But maybe, just maybe, I wouldn't have written this otherwise, and then maybe you wouldn't have read this Untold Story. And you'd think the wrong person was Wonderful.