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“One of the great tragedies of life is not the failure to live a more epic story; it’s the failure to realize the story we are already living.”
These words came from my pastor this past Sunday. After a week of having my story attacked, misrepresented, and misinterpreted, to show up at church and find out we were talking about our stories was more than just a coincidence.
We talk a lot about stories here at Libero – our entire organization was built on them. Sometimes, though, I think my pastor is right; we often fail to realize the story we are already living.
My story is filled with hurt, trials, and confusion – but it is also filled with joy, healing, and hope. And I know I am not the only one with a story like this – I believe if we look hard enough, or even simply change our perspective, we all can see our stories made up of these things.
I used to hate my story.
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I blamed God for all the hardship, yet never gave Him credit for any of the good times.
The good times, I believed, were all due to “chance” or my own determination. But the bad stuff, no, that was all God. I wanted to have it both ways: to both be in control of my life and be at the mercy of a higher power – depending which suited best at the time.
But now my perspective has changed.
I know there are people out there – and possibly even reading this – who don’t believe in a Higher Power, who don’t believe there has been a hand in my life or in theirs. And that is fair. I don’t expect everyone to share my belief system.
But here’s the thing: I know what I know, and to me this is truth.
As Anne Lamott says (did you really think I’d make it through a post like this without quoting Anne?!) in my favourite quote of all time:
“It is, finally, so wonderful to have learned to eat, to taste and love what slips down my throat, padding me, filling me up, that I’m not uncomfortable calling it a small miracle. A friend who does not believe in God says, “Maybe not a miracle, but a little improvement,” but to that I say Listen! You must not have heard me right; I couldn’t feed myself! So thanks for your input, but I know where I was, and I know where I am now, and you just can’t get here from there….So it was either a miracle…or maybe it was more of a gift, one that required some assembly.” (from Travelling Mercies)
That is how I feel about my life and story. The fact I am sitting here right now alive and eating a cookie is nothing less than miraculous, because I know where I was. My story is a miracle, it is a gift. It required some assembly, including my willingness to receive the gift and utilize it, but through the whole thing, I am a testiment to God’s love and how He works in our lives.
God has not abandoned you, and He has not neglected any part of your story. Just look a little closer and you will see.
I believe just as He has and continues to work in my story, so does He in yours.
In our bulletin on Sunday there was a piece of paper with “Figure out Your Story” written at the top and three steps. I am going to challenge you – as my Pastor challenged us – to go through these steps, and hopefully you will begin to see things from a different perspective.
Write down the Top 10 most influential things that have happened in your life. You can use bullet points, draw a life map, journal until your hand is sore – whatever works best for you.
Take some time to think about your top 10 list and see if you can spot any threads, trends, or patterns that show how God has been at work in the midst of your story.
Maybe you’d like to share your story with us. If you would, head on over to our Submissions page and share your journey on our Community Blog. Feel free to include how God has worked in your story to bring you towards freedom. And we would love for you to attach a “Free from” photo along with your story, too!
I hope you find this exercise helpful, and I hope some of you choose to share your story — with us, with your church or small group, or close friends – to encourage others to search for God’s hand in their lives as well.
I want to leave you with this quote – it is from an amazing book I am currently reading by Gerald May called “The Awakened Heart”:
“Later, we can look back upon our gropings and recognize how the way did open and recognize the presence of a guiding hand that we did not see at the time. This is true for all of life. You could stop now and reflect upon your own life history. What is responsible for brining you to where you are today? How much of your life’s journey has been the result of your intentional self-determination? How much has been beyond your control? Then, putting it all together, what is it that has seen you through? We are looking at neither determinism nor autonomy here, but a mysterious graceful presence that is deeper than companionship and far more tender than command.”
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