a sacred task
“Heart” is the Spiritual Journey prompt for this first Thursday in February.
Thanks to Linda Mitchell for hosting.
I’m constantly asking myself these questions:
- Is this story mine to tell?
- Am I telling this story with the kindest truth?
- Will this story make the world a better place?
- Is this story wholly authentic?
It is a sacred task to tell stories, and as a story collector I carry a weight of responsibility to make sure my stories are kind, true, and filled with hope. This isn’t as easy at is might seem.
Stories have the potential to be a conduit of love. My story can spark another story that will light another and soon there’s a little glow in a corner of the darkness that wasn’t there before. It’s why I stack stories with a holy reverence.
Except when I don’t.
There have been times in my life when my stories were misunderstood, when what I intended was misconstrued. When the story was twisted. When reality became distorted and ugly accusations were hurtled my way. It doesn’t take long before a tenderhearted story collector can become uneasy.
In the late summer days of 2015, when I was still naive that my story collection would be accepted and protected, before I was bone weary from parenting and when I thought friends were friends forever, a wise trauma-specialist who was acclaimed for his work with adolescents, told Andy and me it was time to “batten down the hatches” because a dark and violent storm was brewing and roaring our way.
He was right. The storm was unpredictable and wildly savage, lasting longer than we could have conceived. Today it still churns and chops and brutally rises from time to time, but it ebbs. We finally have started to have periods of reprieve that last longer than wisps of peace in the darkness before the day begins.
I find myself longing for my uncollected stories. Wrapped in the heart ache and the brokenness of the stories that didn’t go how I wanted them to go, I remember there is One greater than me who unfolded the storylines with precision and mercy. The One who is the author of it all.
So, I yield in a holy and sacred way to the stories that prevailed through the storm, to the stories that create an unexpected plot line, to the stories that define a life well-lived. I learned a lot about Story while battening down the hatches.
I’m in good company when my story is misunderstood, or twisted to be used against me. The same thing happened to Jesus. Stories make us vulnerable, but that’s okay. The world needs compassion and tenderness. Stories are sacred, even the ones we wished we didn’t know.
And now, as I persevere with diligence to stack the stories, I realize that fear is toxic to story collectors. It takes bravery and courage to stack stories that give others a gumption to shine. Rather than worrying about being misunderstood, I’ve decided to simply guard my heart, for everything I do flows from it (Proverbs 4:23).
I can think of no other duty that is more important than “the sacred task of making hearts larger through story.”
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