Stories are so precious. They connect us, they inspire us, they embolden us, and warn us. It is in a story that we find solidarity and so often find ourselves nodding along thinking, yes, me too. Humanity is found within the pages. There is a desire inside of us, no matter our temperaments, to know and be known, and stories foster this. This is one of the main reasons that I have been feeling the desire to come back to this little space and share again. I miss what happens in the sharing. I need what happens to me in the sharing. There is no better way to point to Jesus then for me to bare my story.
And that but makes me hesitant, and question and sometimes it makes me stuck staring at a blank screen. Because the truth is, the story is not always easy. It is not always easy to tell, and it is most definitely not always easy to live. I want to write transparently, but I also really desire for it to be tidy. Tidy, however, is seldom authentic. Because this one wild life that makes up our one wild story is messy. Honestly, every great story has a mess, but think about the greatest stories, that mess is sometimes what leads to the most beautiful ending, those endings that take our breath away and make us feel alive. The tension is what makes us keep reading. It is what keeps us interested. I think maybe it is because the tension is something so many of us can relate to. It might look differently for you, than it does for me, but humans understand tension.
I really want a lovely story. I am a simple girl, and would like a simple story, but God has some crazy ideas about my story. So, here I am in Ethiopia, and the story is anything but simple, and many times far from lovely, and honestly, a lot lonely. 2016 started ugly and pregnant with tension. Hours into this clean slate, this beautiful brand new chapter and fresh start, the enemy came back with his old tricks and snuck in with things that we thought had already been dealt with and stamped out. I am learning that parenting really “messies” the story. It also refines and chisels. I made some very intentional parenting goals for this next year, and held onto that goal as a bomb was dropped in front of us. But then six days in, I had already failed miserably, and the goal was nowhere to be found. Oftentimes in these failures, I recognize how much I am trying to do this alone, and am brought back to my knees again to face my failure head on and acknowledge my need for Jesus. And so the story goes - messy and full of chances to try again on the next page and in the next chapter. I suppose that is a beautiful way to describe grace – all these second chances to rewrite the narrative.
So, as we press into this new year, here is to our stories, our collective ones that collide and intertwine, and our individual ones that illustrate our unique plot. May we be brave in the telling, gentle in the living, and open to the hearing of the stories around us. The gospel was based upon the greatest story ever told, and its main character was the greatest storyteller who ever lived. May this example guide us to be courageous with our own stories.
And that bruise under my eye? It has a story. A story involving a water balloon. Sometimes the story is different than it appears on the surface, or that we create in our mind. Might we also be gracious and tender as we wait and listen for the truth of the stories bravely shared with us, because not every story is as it may first seem.