Saturday, April 26, 2014
Your Story Must Be Told
It has been nearly a year since I last posted. I have had so many thoughts that I've wanted to get down, but the time and the energy to do so have often been lacking. But I am realizing that for me, for now, this is a very necessary step. So if you are reading, thank you for taking the time to do so. It is my hope to get back into the habit of posting as life seems to be somewhat settling in. It has been a challenging year in many ways, but also one worthy of celebrating. I haven't done a very good job of celebrating this year; to be honest, I have sulked in place of celebrating and grieved even in times when I should have been rejoicing. It is my hope that through God's grace and through writing these posts I can celebrate the moments that he has given us and, even if in hindsight, see the grace that our Father has chosen to so lavishly pour on us.
I am coming to the realization that over the past year, maybe even earlier as my time in Luoyang came to an end, that I began to believe that my story no longer mattered/matters. Somewhere over the past few years I have discovered a love for writing. It was never something I really enjoyed that much in school (when it was assigned), but something I’d come to really enjoy when given freedom and liberty with it. I don’t think I’m a particularly great writer or that I have really engaging things to say, but for me it has been a great outlet and a means of communicating what is on my heart and mind when spoken words don’t seem quite right or fitting.
But back to the belief that my story no longer matters…
I recently finished a book that a friend sent me last fall. The book’s subtitle is “thoughts on change, grace, and learning the hard way.” When I first got it, it sounded quite fitting for the season of life I was currently in (especially the part on change…wedding, move, job change, all in a matter of a few short months…and probably the bit about learning the hard way, too). But I wasn’t quite ready for the part grace yet. My heart had experienced so much change and in some ways perceived so much loss (in the midst of so much gain) that I just couldn’t open it up quite yet to receive the grace that we as followers of Christ are so freely offered. Sometime after the beginning of this year though, something in me began to change, maybe to break or to soften, and became more open to beginning to receive this grace.
I began reading the book my friend had sent and many of her stories of loss and grief resounded with mine, although in very different contexts. I have realized that in my own pain, I have somewhat closed myself off to the pain of those around me; of dear friends who were also experiencing seasons of change and loss, but which I missed because I had become so consumed in my own. To quote the author, “sometimes pain makes us selfish, myopic, and utterly unable to understand people whose pain is different than ours.” She ends the book with a chapter titled “your story must be told.” It was at that point that I really began to realize that I had believed a lie that my story no longer mattered. I had begun to believe that because I am no longer working in a day-to-day, life-to-life context with orphaned children, that no one really wanted to hear my story anymore. I didn’t feel like what I was doing was really all that purposeful anymore, so therefore no one would really care to read or hear about it. I confess that there was (and continues to be) a large sense of pride in those statements (and not the good kind of pride…) as if what I was doing there was more important than what I am doing here. And maybe for me it is, I really don’t know, but that is what I am trying to work through now, day by day. I had over the past several months of grieving (and sulking…) made the story about me. To quote the book once more, “I was afraid, then, that it would always be like that. I was afraid that this was the new normal, that seasons of lightness and peace were over in my life, and this brittle, fractured way of living would last forever.”
But the reality is that I am a part of a much larger and grander story that begs to be told. And regardless of what I am doing, whether I’m teaching orphaned children or caring for my husband or cooking a meal for friends, if it is done in light of his Kingdom, then it does matter and it is a story worth being told; not for my own acknowledgement, but to bring light to a greater story that I am a part of.
As I write this, I think I have come to realize, at least for me, that there are times when I need to be the one who is writing and sharing my stories…and then there are times when I need to sit back and hear the stories of others and of God’s grace and faithfulness in their lives, and to be reminded that the same grace and faithfulness has and continues to be extended over my own.
So this is my attempt to “get back in the saddle” as they say. I don’t know if anyone will read this, but if you do, I hope it in some way encourages you. But I know that in this season, the writing is very much also for me. “I believe in mining through the darkest seasons in our lives and choosing to believe that we’ll find something important every time…So now I’m mining through, searching for light, and the more I look, the more I find. I see the moments of heartbreak that led to honesty about myself I wouldn’t have ever been able to get to any other way.” (Niequist, Bittersweet)
So as I write, I hope to encourage and challenge myself, and anyone who has made it this far in reading:
“If you are a person of faith, it is your responsibility to tell God’s story, in every way you can, every form, every medium, every moment…when we tell the truth about our lives- the broken parts, the secret parts, the beautiful parts- then the gospel comes to life, an actual story about redemption.” (Bittersweet)