Each of us has a story. Most people only know our stories in parts, usually very small parts. We are reminded of the power of story when we watch the Olympics and hear about the struggles and triumphs of the athletes. In recent weeks we have had opportunity to hear stories about the Super Bowl 2009 competitors. The details are rarely tidy. Heartache, bad decisions, risks, triumphs, priviledges, sacrifices, injuries, failures, humble beginnings, family complexity both positive and negative, and so on, all contribute to the layers of meaning. As our stories are fleshed out, we begin to understand more deeply what it took to bring us to the places we now inhabit in terms of ministry, relationship and work.
There is a time and a place to tell stories. Some aspects are best kept to a smaller circle of friends. Yet, it can be quite encouraging to others when they begin to realize we are human. Like them, we struggle. We have doubts. We wonder. We hope.
What is your story? What chapter describes your current status? Do you know? Does it give you hope? Dread? Why?
My story is simple in many respects. It is not the stuff of movie-making or literary nonfiction. But it is mine, and within its archives there are deeper layers which explain why I am the way I am, and sometimes defy any explanation at all. Yet they are part of my story. I have not decided whether to write a version of my story which is suitable for public consumption. Honestly, I doubt very many would want to read it. But that is not my point in this post. My point is are you aware of your story, whether or not it is written? Do you understand those events, situations, milestones, and significant interpersonal interactions which have impacted you, contributing to your development into the person you now are? Can you trace the events which caused you to make life-changing decisions? Do you know who influenced you and why? Do you know who is influencing you now? Are you sure?
Developing a deeper understanding of the stories we live helps us gain self-awareness so that we may respond to life constructively and as persons in control of our decisions. It might help you to write your story, even in an outline format. Highlight those key events which significantly influenced you. Mark those things which provoke deep emotion of any kind to this day. Then ask the Lord what he would have you do with this fresh understanding of your story. Invite him to author the current and future chapters according to his purposes, rather than relying strictly on your own ingenuity. And then live the story out in the grace of Jesus Christ as he reveals the plot in the days to come.