Your Life

This morning I started thinking about you. Mainly, I was thinking about what you’re going through right now. Whoever you are.

I don’t know you. I don’t know anything about you. But in a way we know each other because you and I aren’t that different.

True, you probably have better health insurance than I do. And I can almost guarantee that you’re smarter than I am—you’re looking at a 2.0 GPA right here.

Still, sometimes we fools know stuff. No, we might not be good at trigonometry, but even a broken clock tells the correct time twice per day. So here’s what I know:

You will get through this.

Yes, you’re going through a rough patch right now. Yes, you’re wondering what’s around the next curve of the highway, and it’s freaking you out. Yes, everything is uncertain. But you’re going to make it.

You have a serious health issue. A doctor just gave you bad news. Your dad is in the ICU. Your mom is dying. Someone you love is secretly hurting you. You’re depressed.

Or maybe it’s simpler than that. Maybe you’re late on your mortgage, and you feel like you’re drowning in bank notes. Perhaps your kids are making complete disasters of their lives. Maybe you’re lonely.

Either way, what you usually wonder to yourself is why. Why does bad stuff keep happening to you? Why is it that lately your life could be summed up with a Morton Salt slogan?

I can’t answer that. But you don’t need answers right now. Answers wouldn’t help you anyway. None of the answers would even make sense. That’s how life works.

When I was a boy, I remember my mother’s sewing basket. It sat beside her sofa, filled with knitting and embroidery work. One time, I removed a folded-up piece of cloth from this basket and unfurled it. What I found was a tangled mess of knots and clumps of colorful string sewn into the fabric. It looked like total thread vomit.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“Embroidery,” she said.

“It looks like a mess.”

She smiled, took the tangled nest from my hands, and unfolded it. On the reverse side of the fabric was a work of art, expertly embroidered. Vibrant and detailed.

My mother said, “You were just looking at it from the wrong side.”

That’s your life.

Right now your life appears to be a knotted-up mess of linguini. You can see no order, no patterns, no purpose, just thread vomit. But it’s pointless to examine your life from this angle. And it’s an even bigger waste of time to try to comprehend the bird’s nest.

You are not a physicist. Neither are you an art critic. Your job on this earth isn’t to figure stuff out and write a doctoral thesis.

So let your life be a mess. Let it be confusing. Don’t try to interpret it. Let life be a complete shipwreck. Because one day, you’ll understand what was happening here. One day, you will stand on a great precipice and see your life from the reverse viewpoint and suddenly, bam, you’ll get it.

You’ll understand that there were no wasted moments, no accidents, no missteps. Your biography was all mapped out like a great work of craftsmanship.

Not too terribly long ago, I attended a symphony in Atlanta. It was the most high-falutin experience of my life, and I’m pretty sure they didn’t appreciate my NASCAR T-shirt, either.

But anyway, the music was composed by Béla Bartók. And if I’m being honest, it was flat weird. There were about 30 agonizing minutes where the music sounded like the whole orchestra had been backstage popping hallucinogenics.

Soon, I was looking around the concert hall watching guys in tuxedos and ladies in sparkly gowns glance at their watches, thinking to themselves, “I paid money for this?”

But then…

The music came together.

The score changed. The string section played a powerful melody. All the up-bows and down-bows were perfectly synced. Magnificent harmony emerged from madness. The music hit a crescendo and hot tears formed in my eyes. And I realized that Béla Viktor János Bartók was no hack composer.

Someday, when you see your life from the proper perspective, it’ll be like that.

The vision will steal the wind from your lungs. All your mistakes, all your tragedies, all your disasters, meltdowns, failures, heartaches, you’ll see that they were an opus. And do you know what you’ll feel in that moment when it all makes sense?

Love. One day, you’ll realize that a deep love has always been near you. This love follows you. It clings to you like static electricity. It has never left you. Not even for a nanosecond.

There has never been a hole so deep that this love could not find you. No night so cold that this love could not warm you. Even when you find yourself in your lowest pit, the love of a Great Artist is with you.

You will get through this. That’s not an opinion.

85 comments

  1. Tammy S. - July 25, 2021 8:07 am

    🧡🧡🧡

    Reply
  2. Sandi. - July 25, 2021 8:15 am

    Thank you for this post, Sean. It truly spoke to my heart, as I’m sure it did for many others, too. At times we all need for someone to point out the rainbow after a storm.

    Reply
    • Joan Moore - July 25, 2021 11:00 am

      How did you know? Best ever.

      Reply
  3. Ed (Bear) - July 25, 2021 8:51 am

    Well said sir!

    None of our GPA’s are as important as our LPA’s (Life point average).

    Reply
  4. Marcie White - July 25, 2021 10:25 am

    My favorite piece so far. And, I have read many, many of your essays.

    Reply
    • Barb - July 25, 2021 12:58 pm

      I read your poats every day but this one…..wow! Having trouble typing through the tears! Thank you!

      Reply
  5. pyrthroes - July 25, 2021 10:50 am

    Ars longa, vita brevis: “This too shall pass” is Memento Mori’s iron law that “all things end.”

    We were born the day civilization cratered, Nazi paratroopers dropped en masse into Norway. Epochs later, we commend Kepler’s solution to mundane ennui: “Dip your bucket into the Well of Eternity,” set visionary goals engaging playful curiosity.

    Cemetery gateways read, “As you are now, so once were we; as we are now, so shall you be.” Amidst Shiva’s drum-and-flame, “there is only The Dance.”

    Reply
  6. Bar - July 25, 2021 11:02 am

    “The love of the Great Artist is with you.” Comforting. Calming.

    Reply
  7. Judith Perye - July 25, 2021 11:05 am

    Thank you, Sean.

    Reply
  8. Becky Kaufman - July 25, 2021 11:08 am

    Thank you.

    Reply
  9. Cheryl Andrews - July 25, 2021 11:14 am

    Sean, this is beautiful! Thank you for your awesome writing; it keeps me going!

    Reply
  10. Suzanne - July 25, 2021 11:24 am

    Love this. Thank you.

    Reply
  11. Bill Harris - July 25, 2021 11:24 am

    Thank you Sean. I needed this today.

    Reply
  12. Donna M Wood - July 25, 2021 11:29 am

    Made my eyes leak. Again.

    Reply
  13. chip plyler - July 25, 2021 11:38 am

    Love – Both a noun and a verb when it’s Jesus the Christ ….

    Reply
  14. Linnea Miles - July 25, 2021 11:44 am

    I hope so.

    Reply
  15. Martha - July 25, 2021 11:46 am

    Thank you. Your compassion and understanding are a gift built bu sadness, difficulty, and tragedy. Yet, you use it to lift us up, time and time again.

    Reply
  16. Kathy McLean-Davis - July 25, 2021 11:46 am

    Absolutely one of your best, as far as sermon material goes. Well, and as far as life-application for us all goes. Thanks for writing from your life and heart. Blessings,

    Reply
  17. Ernie - July 25, 2021 11:46 am

    You say you are not religious. Nothing wrong with that. But you have an amazing, contagious faith. Thank you.

    Reply
  18. Shelton A. - July 25, 2021 11:52 am

    I have an infection in my eye after cataract surgery. To make matters worse, my lower lashes curl inward. Sharp pain is there every now and then. But I trust and believe in the Great Healing Artist and that amazing love to see me through. You are so right, Sean. I don’t get it right now, but I know that one day, I will. Thanks, bro!

    Reply
  19. BJ Smith - July 25, 2021 11:55 am

    Thanks, Sean!

    Reply
  20. Ann Locke - July 25, 2021 12:19 pm

    It is that very knotted mess that makes me want The Hallelujah chorus played at my funeral.

    Reply
  21. Barbara S Smith - July 25, 2021 12:22 pm

    So well said!

    Reply
  22. Jan - July 25, 2021 12:25 pm

    Beautiful … reassuring … and oh so true!

    Reply
  23. Jeri Blom - July 25, 2021 12:34 pm

    Sean, that is exactly what I needed to hear today. Every word! And I need to read it every day! Thank you!!

    Reply
  24. Tammy - July 25, 2021 12:49 pm

    I love that you took time to write to me😉. What I love most is that you take time out of your day to inspire humans. Your tangled embroidery and concert illustrations are such perfect metaphors. I needed your homily today. Thank you for it

    Reply
  25. Gary - July 25, 2021 12:58 pm

    “Give thanks to the God of heaven. His faithful love endures forever.”
    ‭-Psalm ‭136:26‬ ‭

    Reply
    • Christine - July 25, 2021 9:56 pm

      Amen

      Reply
  26. beachdreamer1 - July 25, 2021 12:59 pm

    Such insight! You continue to berate yourself, but Sean, you have to know yours is a unique gift. To see from the heart into those deep places most don’t. Indeed a gift. Thank you again for your encouragement…for your life experience that makes you who you are. I’m the worst at trying to figure everything out. So far I’m batting zero. ‘Let go and let God’. One day it will all come together.
    God bless you and Jamie. ❤️

    Reply
  27. Patricia O Thrash - July 25, 2021 1:03 pm

    Thank you.

    Reply
  28. Debbie g - July 25, 2021 1:12 pm

    Thank you Sean love to you and Jamie and all

    Reply
  29. Peggy - July 25, 2021 1:24 pm

    Thank you for this. It is a perfect description of life. I love your thoughts. Thank you for sharing. Have a beautiful day😘

    Reply
  30. Maggie Priestaf - July 25, 2021 1:25 pm

    I heard you today. Thank you..,

    Reply
  31. Penny Locke - July 25, 2021 1:32 pm

    So needed at this time.❤️

    Reply
  32. Annie Sommers - July 25, 2021 1:46 pm

    Thank you Sean.

    Reply
  33. Heather Miller - July 25, 2021 1:49 pm

    This is a loving message; thank you.

    Reply
  34. Donna Xander - July 25, 2021 1:52 pm

    You are freaking me out a bit, like you somehow crawled into my head. It’s okay, you can stay there—you’re a wise companion, full of love and wonder for those who walk this earth with you. Grateful…

    Reply
  35. Lisa Bowmam - July 25, 2021 1:56 pm

    If God brings you to it, He’ll bring you through it.

    Reply
  36. Dave Conkle - July 25, 2021 2:07 pm

    Thanks Sean . Your piece today was a wonderful start to this Sunday . You have a wonderful gift of putting life into its proper perspective.

    Reply
  37. Robyn - July 25, 2021 2:13 pm

    Thank you Sean. I needed you terribly badly today.

    Reply
  38. Ann - July 25, 2021 2:16 pm

    It’s gonna be all right…AMEN🙏🏻

    Reply
  39. NancyKay Wessman - July 25, 2021 2:20 pm

    Thank you. To the writer who helps start all my days on a good note: true.

    Reply
  40. Rhonda - July 25, 2021 2:27 pm

    Beautiful. Thank you. Much needed

    Reply
  41. Nick - July 25, 2021 2:34 pm

    Sean, Amen!
    “Yahweh your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior.
    He will exult over you, and He will renew you by his love;
    He will dance with shouts of joy for you
    as on the day of festival.”
    Zeph 4:17

    Reply
    • Ed Peacher Jr - July 26, 2021 6:37 pm

      Nick – I really appreciated you sharing this Scripture. I went to check and read it for myself in the Bible, but Bro – this verse is found at Zephaniah 3:17 – as Zephaniah has only 3 Chapters. Blessings SIR!

      Reply
  42. maxnayagus - July 25, 2021 2:56 pm

    ❤️ ❤️ ❤️

    Reply
  43. Norma Den - July 25, 2021 3:02 pm

    This blog came at the exact right time. 41 years ago today my Mother died, my husband has Alzheimer’s now and every day is a trial. I’m tired and so weary, but I must go along. Precious Lord take my hand lead me on. Great Artist, Great Spirit, Nkosi, Lord, all one and the same. Bless you.

    Reply
  44. Catherine C Smith - July 25, 2021 3:23 pm

    Wow! You’re an artist and don’t know it! You have woven your words into a magnificent song of praise and enlightenment! Thank you so much!

    Reply
  45. Linda B - July 25, 2021 3:31 pm

    So beautifully written. Thank you so much.

    Reply
  46. Julie Ann Westwater - July 25, 2021 3:41 pm

    My life is just embroidery
    Between my Lord and me.
    I don’t choose the colors
    That He works so steadily.

    Sometimes He adds in sorrow,
    And in my foolish pride
    I forget He sees the upper-
    And I see the under-side.

    But when the work is over
    And the needles cease to fly
    God will unroll the canvas and reveal the reasons why

    The dark threads are as needful in the Weaver’s skillful hand
    As the threads of gold and silver in the pattern He has planned.

    Reply
  47. Nancy - July 25, 2021 3:41 pm

    All I can say is thank you. I very much needed these words today.

    Reply
  48. Penn Wells - July 25, 2021 4:06 pm

    An incredible intellectual with some form of health insurance and who had grades sufficient enough to get his diploma once wrote in his “Of the South” blog:
    “Once you’ve loved a good, woman, poetry makes sense.”
    He was so right (that quote in niw in my “book of…” along with a few others of his.
    But I think the same thing could be said about classical music, right big guy?

    Reply
  49. Mitzi Curtis - July 25, 2021 4:22 pm

    Absolutely beautiful. I love positivity! Fortunately I haven’t met with many of the scenarios you noted; the ones I have prove your point. Thank you Sean.

    Reply
  50. Linda Moon - July 25, 2021 4:33 pm

    I almost always type LIFE in all caps. It’s that important. I don’t know much about algebra or the French I took, but I do know that love creates a wonderful world for us all. And, as always, your column adds some love, insight, laughter, and a bunch of other good stuff to my LIFE. And that’s a fact.

    Reply
  51. Susie, as well - July 25, 2021 4:54 pm

    Beautiful story!
    “Even a broken clock tells the correct time twice per day.” I’m gonna use that. Tell me though, you did not really wear a NASCAR T-shirt to that symphony!

    Reply
  52. Danner Lanier Smith - July 25, 2021 5:40 pm

    Thanks for this … one of the best l ever had the privilege to read!

    Reply
  53. Bill Heaton - July 25, 2021 5:51 pm

    Thank you Sean.
    My mom passed away this past Monday, it was a short illness – she had only been home with Hospice for 5 days. She took care of my dad, who has dementia. She was 80 and he turned 83 on the 23rd, the day after her funeral. We’re dealing with a lot, and have a lot ahead of us, but others have even more. Still…
    I absolutely know that God has a plan, and I trust all that I have in Jesus’ care. I also know that most times He gets us through the storm, rather than calming it. He surely DOES put more on us than we can handle, so that we will trust Him even more.
    And I firmly believe that your post today was meant for me (probably for others, too – which is fine, because I try not to be selfish).
    So, thank you, Sean – because it meant the world to me. It truly did.

    Reply
  54. MAM - July 25, 2021 6:10 pm

    God is the artist, the musician, the writer, our lives and most of all the Love. Without Him, we are nothing.

    Reply
  55. Shirley - July 25, 2021 6:14 pm

    Wow and wow! Not only are you wonderful in gracing us with your words each morning but the comments from your many faithful readers are also inspiring and give me joy!

    Reply
  56. Captain John - July 25, 2021 7:19 pm

    Thank you.

    Reply
  57. Nancy Hutcheson - July 25, 2021 7:38 pm

    Sean, when I think of all the messy times in my life, in retrospect I see God’s hand in my every move, my every decision, my every mess, as well as the good times. God, the Master Weaver, just keeps weaving together all the good and bad in my life, making it a masterpiece to His love and goodness. Through it all, love and complete trust in God bring us through whatever we face. We’re all, as my preacher used to say, just messy mortals. Nancy Hutcheson

    Reply
  58. Frank Hardy - July 25, 2021 7:39 pm

    I didn’t realize how bad things were!

    Reply
  59. Edna Isdell - July 25, 2021 8:55 pm

    Amen

    Reply
  60. Cheri Johnston - July 25, 2021 10:25 pm

    So true! At 72 I’ve had some monumental tragedies in my life, but every night I pray how BLESSED I & grateful I am. You have to look @ the right side of the embroidery (smart woman she is/was). Thank you 😊😘

    Reply
  61. Fleming Straughan - July 25, 2021 10:59 pm

    Thank you
    GodBless

    Reply
  62. Jim Sirmans - July 26, 2021 12:56 am

    God is good all the time!

    Reply
  63. Shirley - July 26, 2021 1:16 am

    Sean, you had quite a congregation today – on the Lord’s Day. Please keep writing for a long, long, long time.

    Reply
  64. Susan Kennedy - July 26, 2021 2:02 am

    Amen and amen.

    Reply
  65. Connie - July 26, 2021 3:18 am

    The end of Romans 8 right here.

    Reply
  66. Kyle - July 26, 2021 4:27 am

    It’s been a while since I’ve read your writing, but I randomly clicked the bookmark today and I believe it was by the grace of God. 100% exactly what I needed. You may not have known who you were writing to, but thank you for writing to me.

    Reply
  67. Kyle - July 26, 2021 4:38 am

    Test

    Reply
  68. Pingback: RECAFFEINATED MONDAYS: I Love a Parade – The Write Side of My Brain

  69. CHARALEEN WRIGHT - July 26, 2021 2:38 pm

    Reply
  70. Beth - July 26, 2021 2:57 pm

    Thank you for this. Sometimes it’s easy to forget these things.

    Reply
  71. californiarefugee - July 26, 2021 4:56 pm

    I sent this to my granddaughter who is having a hard time finding herself. I told her it is my story, too.

    Reply
  72. Sean Admirer - July 26, 2021 11:49 pm

    Thank you a million times over. Some days I am so despondent after catching the histrionic soundbites from the news. This essay and many others of yours gives me hope for us all as a species.

    Reply
  73. Sue Kass - July 27, 2021 3:33 am

    Yes, this was one of those days for me. I live in West Michigan and my son and his dear family live in NW New Mexico…1603 long miles stretch out between our driveways. They drove up, through the night for a long awaited visit this summer and today was the dreaded day we said “goodbye” and they loaded up three precious grandkids and one very special grand pup into the minivan and left my driveway. This part never gets easier. My friends are overwhelmed and delighted at the same time with frequent involvement in their grand children’s day to day lives and I will never get enough time with mine. It doesn’t quite seem fair. To hold a sobbing eight year old as she asks “But why does it hurt so much to say goodbye.” is just plain painful. And all I can say in response to her is “It’s because we love each other so much and the pain of saying goodbye is worth every minute that we got to share.” But she’s right. It does hurt so very much and I did my own sobbing after they began mile one of 1603. And it’s then that a weeping Papa reminded me that without love there would be no pain in the parting. Thanks for your words that hit a home run and brought this truth home once again. It’s all about the love.
    – a Leaky Eyed Michigan Grandma

    Reply
  74. Valerie Darland - July 27, 2021 5:10 am

    Just what my heart needed….thank you!

    Reply
  75. Beth Hall - July 27, 2021 5:31 am

    Sean – one of your very best ever. So many people today need this message, including me. Keep the good stuff coming, and God bless you.

    Reply
  76. Sandy Burnett - July 27, 2021 3:34 pm

    I have been behind in my reading, so I’ve just worked back to this post and found in it a way for you to deal with your post today(the one to your wife) .
    Losing a loved one or readying to lose one is difficult. We all feel lost. Your answer to yourself is to remember, remember, remember that the tangled mess of threads will one day be viewed from the other side and will all make sense. Just continue living the mess we’re in.
    I know my thoughts are disjointed but what others think of your work whether praise or put downs is not as important as doing what you do. I see you neither as a Pollyanna nor as a hack or any other label like c student, but as a realist and a reporter.
    How people view that which you write depends a lot on their own experience and their eyesight.
    Keep reporting and let us laugh and cry depending on the subject. I do both a lot of both when I read your thoughts. Thank you. My prayers are with you and your family.
    Remember the tangled threads become a tapestry when viewed from the right side.

    Reply
  77. Susan - July 30, 2021 7:50 pm

    I truly hope so, Sean.

    Reply
  78. Anne M Robinson - August 3, 2021 7:11 pm

    My mother kept me in line when I whined, life is hard. She always said if someone told you it was easy, they lied to you. It is hard. You need to pray harder and so I do. God Bless You and all your words and stories.

    Reply
  79. Pat Dimsey - August 4, 2021 7:20 pm

    Sean God’s time is always perfect. I was feeling low as I am grieving the passing of my husband. It has been 15 plus months. There are days I don’t want to be here. Yet I am thankful God took him home first so he didn’t have to go through this journey. I know where he is. There is no pain any more. We will be together for eternity. Thank you for your writings. I read them everyday. You understand as you have lost your mother n law. Unless you have lost a close family member you cannot understand. One day you are fine. The next you feel lost but God does bring us through. I am sorry for your loss. May God comfort you & your wife as He has through your writing today.
    Thank you
    Pat
    North Carolina

    Reply
  80. DiAn - August 7, 2021 5:50 pm

    THAT’S A FACT! Thank you, Sean, for reminding me and us. – DiAn

    Reply
  81. Donna Johns - August 24, 2021 1:03 pm

    I really needed this today!! Sometimes all I need to hear is that I’m gonna make it!! Thank you Sean!!

    Reply

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