Author Ava Pennington
Author Ava Pennington
How Would You Describe Your Life?

How Would You Describe Life?


Advice and quotes about life abound, some serious, some humorous, and more than a few infused with sarcasm.

I recently saw the new Downton Abbey movie. As much as I enjoy the Downton Abbey franchise, it’s not my usual go-to source for advice about life. But a quote from the recent movie, Downton Abbey: A New Era, caught my attention. During a scene where she was tempted to be unfaithful to her husband, Lady Mary responded, “Marriage is a novel, not a short story. Full of plot twists along the way.”

From the perspective of a writer, I appreciate the analogy. And not only applied to marriage, but also to life in general.

Life experiences can change faster than the weather, and here in Florida, that’s pretty quick. One moment we’re enjoying life and the next we’re wondering if we’ll ever be able to smile again. The cause might be a phone call from a doctor’s office, the loss of a loved one, or a job loss. It might be news of a prodigal child making yet another poor, life-altering choice. Or it could be a marriage irretrievably broken by the other person’s decision to leave the relationship.

Whatever the cause, the joy and vibrancy of our life drain away as we struggle to place one foot in front of the other. Disappointment shifts to despair, and despair to depression. We feel trapped and hopeless, afraid that this is all there is.

But that experience—good or bad—is merely one chapter in the book of our life. As quickly as things went wrong, they can become right again. And the reverse is true, as well.

The apostle Paul observed, “One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14 NIV). This verse is often quoted in the context of forgetting past failures. But Paul was actually referring to his past successes. Either way, he understood past experiences are temporary and are to be viewed in light of eternity.

Paul made this point again in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, when he wrote, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (NIV).

So don’t judge all of your life based on your current situation. It’s just one chapter of your life’s book. Look ahead to what God has for you. And confidently remember, “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

How would you title the current chapter of your life? 


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  1. Yvonne Anzolone

    Thank you for the reminder. I am just as fickle as life is and as much as I love being with people sometimes I need to withdraw and be alone with the Father. Soon my husband and I will go to the Catskills for a month. I look forward to sitting quietly and watching the birds and butterflies as I appreciate the beauty of His Handiwork.

  2. Ava Pennington

    Yvonne, enjoy your time with the Father . . . and your husband!

  3. Nancy Head

    I too enjoyed the movie–especially the part you mention. Life is short, but it’s also a novel rather than a series of short stories. “We spend our years as a tale that is told,” Psalm 90:9b says in the KJV.

    Nicely done, Ava. God bless!

  4. Jennifer Baringer

    I don’t have a good title for this time “yet!” But I sure do appreciate your encouragement while I wade through it. Love and hugs

  5. Melissa Henderson

    I’m thankful for the good times in life and thankful to be able to go to God in the not so good times of life. Right now, all is good and I’m filled with joy and thanksgiving. Have a blessed week!

  6. Yvonne Morgan

    I thank the Lord for all the goodness in my life and I thank Him from the lessons I learn at the other times. It is a not a short story as you said. Thanks Ava.

  7. Jessica Brodie

    Excellent, Ava. You are so right about the perspective, that life is really like one big sweeping novel. The hard (and good) times in our lives are but chapters. These times do end. But what is the theme of the whole book… the whole LIFE? I pray mine points to God over and over again.

  8. Melinda Viergever Inman

    The current chapter involves my husband’s retirement. After most of our years with him working two or more jobs simultaneously to support our large family and then taking high-level positions that required sixteen hour work days, I feel like I’m getting to know him in more depth than ever previously in our forty-five years of marriage.

    We began his retirement with a pandemic and a lot of arguing, for we weren’t used to being together day in and day out. We now spend every day going on walks, discussing our joint writing project, and working on those writing projects side by side, We travel to see our children when any of them need us. We study our Bibles and discuss what we’re learning. We’re leading a class in church again. We don’t know how long this blessed season in our lives will last. Our lives are in God’s hands.

  9. Karen Friday

    Ava, I like this analogy applied to marriage as well. One thought I cling to is that God continues to write my story and no matter what happens along the way, my story is part of His larger story. And I see His goodness and mercy written on every page.

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