Out of the Dark

My life was changed forever in 2013. Everything I thought I knew……..wasn’t.

The next two years brought more difficult circumstances and what felt like too many changes. I didn’t realize how all of it affected me until I started getting better and part of what helped me come out of the dark was writing about it.

Slowly, tenderly……..a little at a time, I shared the stories on my blog.

Those smaller stories came together as a whole story and were recently published in Shattered Magazine.

When I posted my stories, I didn’t know they would go any further. I wrote the stories for the same reason I write anything…..to let others know they’re not alone, to give hope, teach or encourage, to help unlock a memory, or prompt a question they’ve never thought of asking before.

Maybe it will do one of those things for you.

Here’s a link to the story:  Darkness Couldn’t Win

 

 

 

 

Share Your Story

Each of us has a tale to tell if we would only tell it.
Frederick Buechner

Your story matters. Your little stories, your big ones, the whole story of your life so far.

We learn about ourselves and others and the world through stories. They change us and connect us. Stories deepen our understanding of one another. Stories help us see what really matters…..past what we wear, our age, and the color of our skin. Past what we fix up and try to hide. Stories help us see the heart. A friend recently wrote, “Stories push us to grace.”

But I’m not talking about our Instagram stories, or any of the ones we post to social media. I’m talking about sharing your life. Your life is a story and a collection of thousands of stories and your stories are best told within relationships.

I’m talking about the kind of stories shared with a group of friends over lunch. The face to face kind you share with your teenager because he’s struggling with his faith. Listening to a story that makes you laugh so hard your face hurts. Sharing the stories of triumph or fear, tragedy and faith, joy, failure, hope and love. And especially the stories that bring tears to our eyes.

So no matter how you do it, keep up with your stories. Write them out in a journal. Share them with those you’re close to. Type them out on a blog, whether you publish it or not. Because it’s important to keep track of our stories. Our real stories. The messy ones we prefer no one to know. The ones about living inside ourselves and those that make us uncomfortable.

We keep track of our stories so we don’t forget who we are. So we remember what we’ve seen and felt and lived through. Because when your friend goes through the same thing, you can be there, sharing your story, and making your friend feel less alone. Or you sit there and say nothing at all because you remember the times it was all you needed.

Keeping track of our stories help us remember those things. If we lose track of our stories, we lose the ability to connect with people in the most essential way – heart to heart. We forget how to be with people and try to fix them instead. We forget compassion and empathy.

We forget how it feels.

Jesus was a storyteller and ever compassionate. He was weary and thirsty when he met a woman from Samaria. The woman was an outsider, looked down upon by those around her because of her lifestyle, but Jesus didn’t treat her any differently than he treated anyone else. Possibly for the first time in her life, she didn’t feel shamed. Jesus told her everything she ever did. She was seen and understood and known. The woman was so heartened by this she went into town to tell the story.

She didn’t wait until all her problems were solved or her circumstances changed. She shared Jesus with others right in the midst of her messy, complicated life.

God uses the stories of our lives. The happy times, the messy ones, the ones that almost killed us, and even the ones we think can’t be used. All for His glory.

Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony,……. John 4:39  ESV

Share your lives. Tell your stories. Live like it matters.

She Was Seventeen

I was at the funeral home last night, gathered with extended family I don’t see often. A lot of us together in one place. There were moms and dads, and brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, and cousins…..lots and lots of cousins. We’re happy to see each other, even under the circumstances, and we say so.

We smile and hug each other, ask about our families and can’t believe he’s driving already or she’s graduated college. We wonder at the children growing up and getting married and having children of their own. We ask “where did the time go” or say “how time flies.” Funeral homes make us more aware of time. More thankful for it, too.

After we catch up with each other, we remember. We think of the ones who aren’t with us. We think of the good times, maybe the hard ones too. We laugh and share stories. My cousin shared long ago stories about his brothers and sister, of growing up with lots of cousins and playing on Sharrott Hill. Then he recalled something about Mom and told me the story.

IMG_5522He was in 2nd grade and she was 17. She took him and a bunch of her other nephews to see a movie called The Blob. He remembers having nightmares that night. He told me Aunt Jan was always so much fun.

My cousin told me a story about Mom I’d never heard.

I’m glad I was there to hear it.

I’m Like Them

“We misunderstand God altogether if we think He deals coarsely with our souls.”
Henry Drummond

My journey through Lent this week has given me new thoughts on old stories. The stories were part of the daily devotions from Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter. I revisited the story of Jesus driving the merchants out of the temple for buying and selling there.

Am I like the merchants?

I reread the story of Thomas who declared that “unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” John 20:25

Am I like Thomas?

The story of Peter is another one. Not only did Peter fall asleep in the garden when Jesus asked he and his other friends to keep watch but he denied he knew him. Peter turned his back on the very One he confessed as the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Am I like Peter?

Yes. I’m like them.

How many times have I tried trading with God….tried to get something from God in exchange for my faith or good deeds? “Look what I’m doing God. I’m serving and giving and studying. I’m working hard for You. Now bless me. Make my life comfortable and give me what I want.”

I’ve been the one not believing….not trusting until I can see. “Show me Lord, then I’ll trust You.”

My denial doesn’t look the same as Peter’s but I’ve turned my back on the One who loves me with an everlasting love. By not following Him. By not loving others. By withholding forgiveness. By causing others to feel less than.

But God doesn’t deal coarsely with our souls.

God is kind when He reminds me that “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”  Ephesians 2:8-9

God is patient when I have doubts and fears. As Jesus did for Thomas, in His mercy He will give me the “grace of interior vision, the gift of the opening of the heart, and of its surrender.”

God is tender with me when I’ve turned my back. It was Jesus who turned to look at Peter as he was denying him for the third time. (Luke 22:61) There wasn’t judgment in Jesus’ eyes. There was love.

And I am thankful for His kindness.

“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”  Romans 2:4

For more thoughts on our Lenten journey visit my friend, Joy, at her website A Life-Giving Moment.

Confess