"What's your story?" is one of my best friend's favorite conversation starters. It's quite genius, I think. We all love a good story. It's pretty amazing to think that we share a few of the same stories in our memory bank with strangers who live all around the world. From Noah to Cinderella to Superman, there are stories that create powerful images and universally resonate with humanity. These stories become emblazoned in our mind, and they've been sustained throughout generations from Egypt to Iceland to wherever-you-are-land. The same is true with family stories that extend from one generation to the next. Although they can be quite embarrassing, they are nevertheless part of our family heritage, and the stories keep us connected to one another. Our history gives us our foundation that grounds us.
What is our story? Experts in the field of expertise tell us only 20% of what we do with our day really matters, so why get all hot and bothered? Heaven forbid, we stop and think about consequences and the meaning of life. (By the way, is it just us folks in the south that say, "Heaven forbid!" ? I know we're the only ones who say, "Lawsy mercy!") Digressing...focus, Leigh. We want our story to be good, so we want to be the best at what we do, right? How can we attain our story of ultimate awesomeness? Surely we read a how-to book, pre-pay and actually go to a self-help seminar, or sign up for an on-line daily accountability program. We must learn the new and improved method! We learn tactics! We learn solutions given to us in illustrated diagrams, some of which are color-coded if you upgrade.
"This is a wretched pot-scrubber!" Wait, wait, wait. Reverse. beepbeepbeep
Where in the world did that come from? It came from a story, silly! You mean you're confused? Welcome to Gilly Land! No really, it's from a story, but it could be from a number of stories. We get what the sentence is about, but not the purpose, because we don't know the context of this fragment of the story, and most importantly we don't know the story at all. We don't know where this piece fits. We're clueless, but highly intelligent beings who won't give in to confusion because we're all about our awesomeness and to admit uncertainty is weak and shallow and we'll lose all credibility of the keepers of awesomeness.
Hint: Our story is not formed or improved upon through methods or self-help programs, nor is the context of our story framed by the use of a diagram.
I taught a lesson to the Redeemer Jr. High kids in Christian Ed a few Sundays ago. As they walked in, I began brushing my hair with a toothbrush. One of the gals said, "UUuummmmm, that's not working so well." I put the toothbrush down, and then my 12-year old son became both mortified and stupefied when I delivered a story in my best (which was awful) British theologian's accent. I had recently listened to a podcast of Bishop Lesslie Newbigin telling this story of attending a festival in Liverpool as a schoolboy. A new substance had just been invented and its surplus was given out to the people in the streets. One woman received her portion, and after a brief time came back to loudly exclaim, "This is a wretched pot scrubber!" Well, what was handed out was not a pot scrubber at all. It was shredded wheat! The purpose of what was given to her was not to be used as a pot scrubber. Its intended purpose was to provide nourishment! They didn't understand its fundamental purpose, so it wasn't used properly! Just as the shredded wheat was meaningless as a pot scrubber, so my toothbrush hardly functioned well as a hair brush. Misunderstood, they didn't have a meaningful existence because they were used out of context.
"What's your story?" It's a brilliant question, and one I'll try to build upon here from the Gilly Pad. The story of the life that we live now functions as a fragment within the historical context of a beautiful, comprehensive, unfolding, ongoing story. When we misunderstand the purpose of that story, our lives function out of context, and people are unable to flourish in the way they were intended.
Newsflash! I've recently learned to read my Bible. "Scuuuz me?" say ye. Yep, really. I've read bits and pieces of my Bible for years, taking fragments, pretty pieces and parts and have twisted and cranked those pieces to fit me and my interests. I took parts of a whole and mistakenly manipulated them for methods instead of understanding them for what they really are. Principles given as truth, freedom, and living real life, right now. I'm slowly beginning to understand the Author's intention, and my life in the proper context of the grand narrative.
Hint: My story is not all about me.
*I only included the link to this Bible because it's the one I really like...the commentary is great. It includes charts:)