I love a great story. I love strong characters and the relationships they have with others. I love a good underdog story with trials and triumphs. I especially love a great love story. Call me a sap, call me a sucker, call me an incurable romantic. It is just in my DNA. I know that. God knows that.
When a story connects to my heart, it gives me emotional reactions. I sit on the edge of my seat, waiting in suspense. I laugh at the funny and ironic moments. I cry, sometimes at the sad moments and sometimes I cry at happy moments, sometimes both at the bittersweet moments.
The story could come through a book, a movie, a tale told by another or even just a song with well written lyrics. Whatever the medium, I just am drawn to them and then absorbed into them.
My life is a story. Your life is a story. Our lives are stories.
I have been pondering this. When I ponder things they roll around in my head. I imagine at times that my thoughts tumble through my mind the way my laundry tumbles in my dryer. Round, around, and around again. Flipping and flopping. Tumbling and twirling. Sometimes I wonder if other people can hear my thoughts tumbling through my mind as they clunk around. Do other people hear a buzzer or a signal the moment I have a revelation, as my thoughts complete their cycle?
In the middle of my pondering, I had to stop to dig through my treasure box. Quiet time, alone in the peace of my office, rummaging through years of accumulated notes, cards, letters, clippings, balloons. It was like I had gone to a shelf and pulled off a book of my life. As I went through the box, I was thumbing through the pages of my story. Some pages are dog eared, from frequently returning to them. Some pages have high lights or reminders on them. Some pages I just have not looked at it so long, they seem to be from ages ago.
You would be amazed at what you can amass in a small little tote. I read through some of these things and I can scarcely believe they are about me.
Love notes from my husband. Cards and art work from my kids. Thank you notes of all varieties for all kinds of reasons. Birthday cards and anniversary cards.
Homemade cards, fancy store cards, plain notebook paper cards. Some highly embellished, some rather plain. Bulletins from church, from weddings, from funerals. Letters from my pen pal. Fortune cookie sayings, movie ticket stubs, receipts, sticky notes and even a page from a phone book.
Interesting how the messages of my life come in such differing fashion, from such a variety of sources and at the strangest of times. Some expected; birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. Some planned for; trips to the movies, visits to the state fair and sporting events. Some serious things; the number I wore when I ran a 5k to show that I could do it, to what I wrote and spoke at my Grandfather’s funeral. Some things that are probably only funny to me. The receipt I kept because one of the items was titled “Honkin Rice Bowl” (it makes me laugh) and an unopened wet wipe from Buffalo Wild Wings that was labelled “Made in Canada” (who knew, right?).
Some stuff stays in the treasure box as permanent pieces (like cards from my husband & kids). Some stuff stays for time and then I let go of it.
It’s probably pretty evident that I keep the good stuff in my treasure box. It’s the blessings that I want to look back upon more than anything.
But, I don’t think that I can go through my box without also remembering the hard and challenging things that life has brought about. I remember the pains of my son’s birth defect, the surgeries, the hard walks out of the hospital with empty mama arms. I remember the fears of waiting for the biopsy results to come back. The times that I have just felt so lost and alone. The times where things took a big turn or that I fell so short of a goal. The conflicts that I have had in my marriage. My mess ups as a parent. The times I have been hurt, and even worse, the times that I have so badly hurt others.
These things too are part of my story. But so many times, they are the things that I want to forget about, to make retribution for and to do so many good things that they will just be erased. I know that is not possible, but it does not seem to stop me from trying. The book of my life is filled with so many horrible sins. As I think about the pages yet to come in my life, I smile when I think of the things that will fill those pages, but I also cringe a bit because I know that they, too, will be scattered with sins.
“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16 (NIV).
It is crazy to think that God knows and cares about all of the details of my story. That my silly, broken, mess of life would be worth documenting. It is crazier still to think that the Lord loves my story because He loves me.
So I ask myself, do I even love my story? Do I love the part of God’s story that I make up?
Sometimes I do, when my heart is filled with gratitude for all that God has redeemed for me and given me. Sometimes I don’t, when I focus on all that I wish I had. Sometimes, I just ignore thinking about, too busy with my silly little list of tasks.
I want to see how special I am and as a result to see how special my story it. I do want to love my story. I want to value the way that God has seen me through all of it. I want to face forward to those unwritten pages, resting assured that those things (good & bad) will come to pass as the winds of time blow past them, flipping through them so quickly in the scale of eternity. I want to slowly savor my story, holding on during the ups and downs.
Even more so, I want to encourage others to love their story as well, to see the importance of their story as a part of God’s story. I want to help people to look at the good in their lives, rejoicing in praise over those times. I want to help them walk through those hard times, reminding them of God’s presence in their lives even through the darkest hours.
For the stories that I am a character in, be it a main character, a supporting role, or an unnamed extra, I want to be the best that I can be. I want to love the process of writing my story as much as I love hearing the stories of others. I want to get to Heaven one day, to sit at the Lord’s side, flip through those pages of the Book of Life that I am in, intently listening and watching wide eyed to learn all the things of my story that I had never realized before and to have that sweet ending smile to the depths of my heart knowing there is no sweeter ending than being by the Lord’s side.
I hope that you can love you and can love your story too. I hope that when things are hard and times are trying that there are characters to hold you, to comfort you and to help you along the way. I hope that you will be filled with gratitude and praise through the good times, savoring their sweetness.
I pray that you can see that value within yourself. That you would see yourself as a priceless treasure and a beautiful gift, may the result of that be that you see the incredible value that each day you live adds to your story.
May we all love our life story and the Lord who is the author & finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).
Beloved and Treasured Lord,
Thank you so much for being there through all of the pages of my life story. Thank You for loving me, for valuing me, in such a way that You would make my life a part of Your Book of Life. Lord, each day please help me to love the story of my life.
Help me to keep my eyes from wandering and coveting the stories that others have. Help me to not belittle my story for my feelings of disappointment and self pity. Instead help me to look upon my story with grace, with mercy and with love the way that You do.
Lord, thank You so much for the awesome and amazing stories that You have so craftily woven together with my own. May I have sincere gratitude to You for those who are tightly knit to me right now and for those who have, or will, wrap around me at some point in my life.
Lord, for my readers and I, may we remember and review our stories. May we hear them with new ears and see them with new eyes, may the outcome of our remembrance be an outpouring of praise to You for Your redemption and goodness in our lives. May we share our stories and, more importantly, may we share Your story with those willing to listen. May faith come as a hearing of the message (Romans 10:17).
As a part of my story and in the name of Jesus, amen.