Stories are an intricate part of who I am. And I know that it would be silly to think that I’m alone in saying that. They are the threads of life, weaving pictures on a loom within the corners of my mind.
My own personal hand of story telling goes back a long way. Back when leg warmers were cool, in fact. (Oh, ok…the first time!)
I remember writing the type of stories that consisted of a lot of childlike research on historical figures such as John Paul Jones or the Statue of Liberty. I could tell you where John was born and who built Ms. Liberty. My teachers were impressed.
So was I, come to think of it. Telling stories was fun.
There was freedom in those stories. They were my teacher.
Over time my story writing evolved into poetry and fictional short stories. I never left behind my love for research so I was that kid in the class who got excited at those assignments. (Don’t judge me. I’m really not that boring.)
After college, however, I was bitten by the fan-fiction bug. Hard. I borrowed worlds that were created by another genius and implemented my own ideas to pick up where they left off. It was where I met my first community of writers. People like me who just wanted an outlet for the rampant thoughts in their head.
There was freedom in those stories. They were my comforter.
Yet somehow I seemed to skip the stories that included me. I glossed over my own experiences as though they didn’t exist. I was too uncomfortable in my own skin to embrace my story so I kept writing about people and places that just weren’t real.
That’s all well and good. It has its place in my life. But the bigger picture seemed more about me running in a cold sweat from who I was becoming. As though I were afraid of accepting the identity God designed just for me.
But I have a story. And there’s freedom in that story.
It’s amazing to me that each and every one of us will leave a legacy behind. There is an audience that is learning from us. It won’t always be the truth because some of us are great at pretending. It won’t always be important, because some of us will fail to spend the time to make it so. And some of us will keep our mouths completely closed and allow others to tell our stories for us from assumptions made from the perceptions of busybodies who thrive on gossip.
I’m not here to point fingers and chastise the lot of us, but it’s true. Do we stop to truly contemplate the legacy we leave behind in our stories?
It pains me every time I read the passage in Judges that talks about how quickly that generation turned away from the Lord after the death of Joshua. They knew neither the Lord nor what the Lord had done for the nation of Israel.
How could this be? We aren’t talking about hundreds of years here, but merely a couple of decades at best. Did these people not talk to each other?
I’m sure they did. Perhaps they chatted about how humid it had been the past few years. Or how ridiculous the new style of sandals were. Or 101 secrets to making the best matzah.
But were they talking about anything significant? Did they impress the glory of the Lord upon their children?
There is freedom in these stories. These stories prove His love for us.
I want my stories to reach out and grab those around me.
No, that’s not right. I want it to be more gentle than that.
Like the touch of a child’s soft hand to the cheek. I want them to find comfort in the mistakes that I’ve made when they see the grace, the mercy, the forgiveness that comes from a Savior who loves me. I want them to see my mess be made marvelous.
And I want them to want that, too…
Yes. There is freedom in our stories. Because our stories lead others to the One who sets them free.
Faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)
Join us over at (in)courage today for the last spring session link-up and read Anna Rendell’s story…
Jennifer, I’m quick to click on your links because I always find a little encouragement, grace, and freedom in the words you write. This, too, is a beautiful post. This line sums is all up for me: “I want them to find comfort in the mistakes that I’ve made when they see the grace, the mercy, the forgiveness that comes from a Savior who loves me. ” Thanks for sharing your gift here.
Thank you, Karen. Your encouragement means so much!
I love this one Jennifer. This part especially : “It won’t always be the truth because some of us are great at pretending. It won’t always be important, because some of us will fail to spend the time to make it so. And some of us will keep our mouths completely closed and allow others to tell our stories for us from assumptions made from the perceptions of busybodies who thrive on gossip.” I find its hard to get to the bottom, hard to get to the core truth of our stories. Like you mentioned, I gloss over things, fail to spend time, or just keep my mouth shut. How easily I get distracted from sharing the message. Thanks Jennifer!
Thank you for commenting, Kortney. I’m finding it so much easier to share now. (in)courage has been a tremendous boost in that direction!
Great summary verse at the end.
It’s not always easy to tell our stories, but they do have the power to show people our God.