Sometimes the best book is one you love to hate. I finished Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell and I couldn’t stand it, but I actually really liked it. That’s the best way I can describe my feeling toward this novel as seesaw as it sounds. I liked it as much as I did not. For me it was a tie. What I liked was the smoothness of the read and certain specks of symbolism such as the title itself. What I despised was the lack of rush and adrenaline that I expected from a story with meth in the plot. I think in my generation when we hear a story involving drugs we expect elements from Breaking Bad or things to happen the way they do in the book Tweak. That is not Winter’s Bone. However, when you’re the author and it’s your eighth book that’s been critically acclaimed as well as adapted into a film that was Jennifer Lawrence’s breakout role, the weight of a 20-something’s opinion isn’t very heavy.

Ever been there? Where nothing seems to be happening apart from pages of dull, chilled, numbness. I call it ‘the whatever’ stage, and I’m calling it that because I came across a sermon that presented the term “whatever” to me in a brand new way. I was listening to a fired up teaching (one of many) by Aussie preacher Christine Caine and it made me see that whatever is not just the vocabulary add-on that I use when I’m joking or frustrated. Whatever is a word with purpose written in God’s book. Whatever is a Kingdom thing and it is written in scripture. This tells me that even when life is so vacant and desolate that there’s not even white noise, it still matters, that Psalm 123 “valley of death” season. Even when things feel as fast as the syrupy flow of the Winter’s Bone plot, the story does continue. It’s only for a season. Life does go on. That’s what’ll get you to the end, knowing that it all does matter. Even if it builds as slow as a sloth, there’s movement.

Being in the back, in the corner where nobody can see you. Thinking, am I noticed? Don’t they see what I have to offer? When do I get mine? Those thoughts aren’t useful because the opinions and approval of others are not what matters. It is true that appreciation and acceptance is a human want but it is critical to realize that is not a human need. Having an “eternal mindset” matters most because living for eternity means Earth will be thrown in, but living for Earth means missing Heaven completely. Even the darkest nights turn into dawn. Being fixated on worry or anger will not speed up the process. What’s important is that God sees you, right where you are. That’s what matters because Christ sees how you’re handling what I would say is ‘just whatever.’ Maybe it isn’t what you want or you don’t think a particular position is important. Even so, be sure to embrace your place. {Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters-Colossians 3:23} because as the continuously passionate preacher Christine Caine has said;

“how can God put you through promotion if the gift on you will destroy you, because what is in you cannot sustain you?”

The Father looks at the heart, and the heart develops where no one can see. The most crucial things develop in the dark room. Personality will take you places but character will keep you there, and character is something that must spend lots of time soaking in the developer.

The next time I find myself thinking or saying whatever to a task at hand, I’ll remember that whatever is exactly where I need to be. Mindset is critical, moments build and if you press in and press on you will get there. Remember the person writing this is currently dying to habits of restlessness and entitlement in exchange for faith and the perseverance that produces character clearly stated in the book of James. Embrace your place. Have faith in the promises of God. To quote the unrelenting Australian once more “If what you see is all you see, you will never see all there is to see…God is preparing you for what He has prepared for you.”

Listen to Caine’s message

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