Strings and Things
by Alyssa von Helms
September 18, 2019
Once upon a time I read a fable about a boy who was given a magical ball of string. The ball of string had no ability to grant wishes or change the future, but if the boy wanted to move time a little quicker, all he had to do was tug a tiny bit on the string’s end. In an instant, whatever distasteful task that had been before him was now behind him, all the pain and discomfort sliding by as easily as the silk of the string. Of course, the lesson of the fable was that the very string the boy continually tugged at was his life, and in an effort to live only the best parts of it, he came to the end of the string—and his life—without having lived almost any of it.
Growing up, I thought about that magical ball of string a lot. What moments in my life would I like to skip over? What experiences had me almost sick to my stomach with worry? I’ve thought about that ball of string before doctor appointments, piano recitals, college finals, funerals. Just a little bit, I used to think before remembering the only admonition that came with the magical string: Once unwound, the thread could never be pulled back.
Yesterday I went to a friend’s house to celebrate a very special birthday milestone: number one, the very first. It reminded me of the preciousness of time—and of timing. I could write a list a mile long of all the things I hope will happen in my life, things that, if I were ever gifted a magical ball of string, I might be tempted to tug on the end to see if they’re woven somewhere in my future. But that would ruin the grand reveal, wouldn’t it? And, who knows, I might skip right over the sections of my life where I learn that the thing I thought I wanted isn’t truly what I wanted at all and God has something far more fitting in store for me.
Each day is precious, even the ones full of tears and disappointments. True, they don’t all have the same sweet taste but the bitter days are still full of God’s purpose, and I have to trust in the goodness of the One who is weaving my life, who holds the end of every string.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
Alyssa aspires to be the “cool aunt” to all of her friends’ kids and still loves to read fables and fairytales.