Lance Brett Hall

Stories Make Meaning. How Do We Make Stories?

The Value of the L


I got some disappointing news this week. Nothing life-and-death, but definitely a blow to something I thought was more likely to happen than not.

As I was sitting, and letting myself feel disappointed over my morning coffee, I started thinking about how valuable the “loss” is. The usual platitudes always come to mind, and pass by fairly quickly: when God closes a window, etc., how we react to adversity matters more than adversity, character counts, and so on.

All of those are true and useful, and as I reflected on my own disappointment, I talked to myself a little about how difficult I find it not to take things personally. So in my conversation, I asked myself the question, “What actually happened?”

Nothing. Nothing happened.

This doesn’t mean my disappointment isn’t real or that I should scold myself for feeling it. The reality, though, is that nothing has changed, except for my own sense of how my own story will proceed. Not even that, in this case, what changed is my sense of the potential of how my own story might proceed.

So in this case, the value of not being able to put something in the “win” column was the reminder that persistence is a real thing. This sounds silly as I write it, but as much as any person thinks about quasi-buzzwords like vision, perseverance, grit, or any of those, they don’t often come into play when things are easy.

Years ago, I shared some (other) disappointing news with a mentor, whose one-word reply was “fuggetaboutit”. It was as comforting as anything could have been in the moment, and this time around, was a good reminder: the story goes on, it’s on to the next thing.