All Posts, Reflections

What does your story say?

One story can be strung in a myriad of ways. For example, take a simple sentence such as, “I went to the grocery store”. This might be represented by a 15-page novella about the flowers in the field on the way to the parking lot, the people and cars that walked and drove past, or even the romantic atmosphere as I floated past the strawberries that permeated the air with summer succulence. It can also be summed up by an action: “I bought potatoes because they were out of sweet potatoes.” This potato-acquiring adventure could even be riled with grocery carts zooming past as I dare to approach the entrance.

A story might answer some or all of the following questions, pertaining to who, what, where, when, why, and how. In my grocery store venture, this may present itself as: Who did I go with and who did I see there? What am I hoping to buy? Where is it located (did I have to travel far?)? When did I arrive? Why am I going? How did I get to the store?

When we consider how our life has unfolded, this is also a form of story.

Life As Story

Life isn’t just any story, but it is your story. Like my trip to the grocery store, your story can be strung in a myriad of ways, answering all of the whos, whats, wheres, whens, whys, and hows. You can focus on the fine, minute details of each passing moment, or you can gloss over years of plot development to get to the main points. You can focus on the big, action moments, or appeal to one’s senses with descriptions of tremendous beauty.

Jesus’ story is written from four different perspectives in the form of the Gospels. The Bible, even with its size, is one story from beginning to end, with many stories throughout. And, frankly, do not our own stories contain multitudes? My trip to the grocery store is clearly not my whole story. Rather, it is merely a single story from my life narrative. What I include in these smaller stories shows you where I’m drawing your attention, or my purpose of the tale. For the Disney fans: The Lion King, an adaptation of Hamlet, shows us the importance of knowing who and who not to trust, and Beauty and the Beast teaches us that true beauty can only come from inside.

This is all to say: what are you saying with your story? When you introduce yourself, what comes out of your mouth first? Your job? Your family relation? When you talk about your week, do you make a list of complaints? Do you list action-items off a bullet-point list? Or, do you share how Jesus has impacted your week? Where are you drawing attention? To the problem or to the problem-solver? To the complaint or to your thanks?

A Note On Gratitude

This past week I attended a workshop on gratitude, which addressed how gratitude shapes how we see our own lives. The more we find things to be grateful for, the more we recognize the beauty and wonder and majesty of life, and the Lord of life.

Sometimes, gratitude can be hard. Maybe you’re in a chapter where this is the case. Personally, I find it harder to think of things to be grateful for when I’m really tired, heartbroken, burnt out, or in pain.

But in retrospect, those chapters forced me to slow down and see the individual moments, rather than passing through them in a hurried frenzy. Those chapters became part of my story because that’s where I learned the most. Where I learned the most because I leaned on God the most. In particular, this is where I learned what was important, who was important, and was given new perspective. Extending the grocery analogy, the story didn’t end when the store ran out of sweet potatoes. Instead, I had the opportunity to try a new thing. When I recount these parts of my story to others, I highlight God’s faithfulness, not the difficulty.

So as we embark on this first week of May, how do you relay your story to those who will listen? In what light do you see yourself? Will you be thankful for the small things? I pray that we will. In sum, I pray that we will see our stories as God does: full of purpose, promise, and ready to be redeemed.

Feel free to share your story in the comments!

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