I love stories.
I woke up this morning thinking that, for whatever reason, the favorite part of any book for me is when I stumble into a story. They are like jewels that glitter and sparkle in the midst of a landscape of monotone words and thoughts.
My new read, Witness: Lessons from Elie Wiesel's Classroom, is chock-a-block full of stories.
As I am prone to do, I started in the middle of the book with a chapter that sounded interesting, only to discover that if I wanted to follow the map to all the buried treasure this book contained, I would need to start at the very beginning. Which I did. This morning.
I am nothing if not methodical in my own crazy way.
Who is Elie Wiesel you may ask? Well according to that great fountain of truth, Wikipedia,
"Eliezer Wiesel was a Romanian-born American Jewish writer, professor, political activist, Nobel Laureate, and Holocaust survivor. He authored 57 books, written mostly in French and English, including Night, a work based on his experiences as a prisoner in the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps."
Wiesel was passionate about learning and education and the power of stories.
Talking to one of his students, a young lady from Zimbabwe who had experienced great suffering and loss, he said, "I told you in class that you must tell your story. This is because, if even one person learns from it how to be more human, you will have made your memories into a blessing. We must turn our suffering into a bridge so that others might suffer less."
And that got me to thinking about last Sunday, when I met with a young lady after church for lunch. Not knowing how the meeting would go, I told my husband that we'd probably be done in an hour or so. And since he had been wanting to do some landscaping work at the church anyway, it seemed like the perfect time for both of us. So I left him there...pruners and gloves in hand...and told him I'd let him know when we were done.
Which was three hours later.
On the way home, my ever-patient husband, who I thoughtfully appeased with a sandwich from the restaurant, marveled that anyone could talk for three hours.
And as I thought about it I realized, we didn't talk...we shared stories! For three glorious hours it was Story Time!
Christians have a phrase for this: Sharing Your Testimony, but I think Story Time is so much better!
Who doesn't love a good story?
And what is a good story? It's a single, unavoidable problem that grows, escalates, and complicates, forcing the protagonist to make an internal change.
Pick a story, any story. Chances are you remember it because it made you empathize and identify with the character. You grieved when they hurt, sympathized with their foolishness, and rejoiced when they overcame.
And what are our lives, but a chain of stories?
I could have sat with my young friend for hours...spouting information, pouring forth my limited knowledge, and extolling what little wisdom I have.
But I hate when people do that to me and God, in His mercy, reminded me of that.
Instead, He told me to tell My Story...my broken, fractured, insane story full of stupidity and mistakes and failures.
And then He told me to share how I ended up where I am today...the person she saw...someone in a good place...a promised land...now reaping with joy what was once sown with tears.
Just like any good story, my story contained an unavoidable problem that did grow, escalate and complicate, forcing me to make an internal change.
My problem was sin and the change was Jesus.
And the journey He took me on is My Story.
And the journey He took me on is My Story.
Plain and simple.
I could have sent her home with a stack of books...a list of websites...and the name of a good therapist. Not that those don't have value, but it was a Story that God knew she needed to hear.
Like Wiesel said, we must turn our suffering into a bridge so that others might suffer less.
I'm not good at proselytizing or evangelizing, but I can share my story...the story of how I once was lost but now am found...was blind but now I see.
I bet YOU have a glorious story to tell...one that is custom made, unique, and of infinite value...worthy of a Nobel Prize!
And right now...somewhere...there's someone who desperately needs to hear the story God wrote for you...a Love story...one that began at the beginning of time and will be lived out through all eternity.
One that only you can tell.
May we become faithful story tellers, dear ones!
photo credit: LMRitchie <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/84060832@N06/7791363520">Writing- Pen & Paper</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)</a>