There seems to be a theory that authors — especially big-name authors — are blessed beyond measure and often the subject of envy. I think this could be true for anyone who is successful in their field. The truth is so much deeper. Whenever someone achieves some kind of fame or worldly greatness, something in the rest of their life is probably falling apart. We only see the sparkly part.
Nothing in life comes without struggle. When I was writing a book with Carrie McDonnall about her tragic circumstances in Iraq, she was just a young woman. She’d gone to Iraq with her new groom to work as missionaries and help the country after the fall of Saddam. Her husband and everyone else in the car with her was killed. Carrie was shot (26 times if I remember correctly) by masked men who surrounded her car. She miraculously survived thanks to the quick work of kind Iraquis. But no one else in the car did — including her husband David and three other missionaries.
While we were writing the book, Carrie talked about going through the airport security. Because she was so riddled with shrapnel in her body, she couldn’t go through a normal metal detector. She said as she got a special pat-down, “You never know what people are carrying.”
That really stayed with me because it’s so true how easy it is to judge someone in a moment — when they could have the weight of the world on their hands. Carrie looked like some young, beautiful woman going on vacation. In fact, she was on her way to tell the harrowing story of losing her husband and friends to terror in horrifying detail.
When I worked on Carrie’s story, I was young and innocent. I thought the world was rainbows and gumdrops, but her story changed me in such a profound way. It forced me to face the fact that there is true evil in the world. But it also reminded me that’s why we’re here. To be beacons of light in a fallen world. To extend grace where there is none. To understand others rather than judge them.
Before you look at anyone’s life in awe, remember Carrie’s words, “You never know what people are carrying.”
Struggle refines us. It makes us better and our lights shine brighter. If we focus on Him. But it’s never fun, is it?
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4