In my last post I wrote about my maternal grandparents and great grandparents and the legacy they left for the family. It was a lovely post because it generated responses that have triggered this post and I trust will trigger many more. I was chatting with a good friend about the same an interesting and indeed pertinent question came up. It is simple enough that we both come from a line of pioneer evangelists with a great legacy. However, how well are we doing for this world?
The question we were grappling with was, “What is my story?”
When you really think about it, there are so many things that are tied to this question. I dare say that when I consider it, this question presents itself with angles for interrogation. Some of the angles are:
- What am I doing now that will be worth talking about in the days to come?
- How do I deal with my disappointments and struggles? Can someone learn anything from my life?
- Will the struggle ever end? Will I make it out at the other end?
- What will I leave behind me when I leave this earth? What lessons will I leave behind from my walk?
- Have I achieved anything worth talking about once I am gone?
- Will my walk be of any value to the world or will my story be of little or no value?
As always the list is endless….
When I hear the stories of those gone before me, the focus is usually on the great things they did, the people they met and the impact they had. This created a picture in my mind as a child that they were infallible and invincible. This picture has changed as I have grown up and the nice classy veneer has cracked and broken. I had this perfect picture of my grandparents until I sat and had candid conversations with my mum, uncles and aunts. They were as human and fallible as I am. They made mistakes, bad choices, were generous to the benefit of some and loss of others. Yet, they lived their lives as best as they knew how to live. This is what made them stand out and almost infallible. I know that the truth of this life is that we want to paint those gone ahead of us as saints but they are not saints…not even by a long shot.
As I have come face to face with their failings or strange decisions my opinion of myself changed too. I have always seen myself as invincible and infallible lol…sounds laughable now but I have always believed that I did the best I could and therefore was on the right track. I took hard lines against things and lost friends in the process. As I became more and more aware of my humanity I realised I was the one in the wrong and had to eat humble pie and ask for forgiveness. I realise that the only infallible person who has ever walked this earth is Christ. They made bad decisions that have affected their generations just as they made good decisions that have left us in awe of them. This is part of being human and honest about life.
Common practise says “Tell the successes more than the failings and paint a good picture of life.” My truth of life is that it is not smooth sailing even when we walk closely with God so I must be honest about other sides. Experience has also taught me that there was so much hardship and struggle even in the Bible so I must not shy away from it.
Think of Elijah; he’s one of the greatest men of God in the Bible yet he had moments of total terror when he thought he was the only prophet of God left in Israel. He whined and complained until God told him that there were more people dedicated to God than he knew. Think of Job; he was in pain and never cursed God yet his heart cried from pain and he wondered what had caused all this to happen. Then there is Abraham; I could bet that he wondered what was wrong with God when He gave him a son and then asked him to sacrifice his son. I always imagine Abraham raising the knife to slay Isaac on the altar closing his eyes. I can see tears running down his face as he did this yet he help onto hope that God was in control. Think of Joseph; loved by his father, hated by his brothers, dreamt of his rise to power; beaten and sold into slavery by his brothers; falsely accused by his masters wife; sent to the dungeon; forgotten by the cupbearer. Even Christ had a hard time on earth. Yet all of those mentioned rose to a place of honour. In the scheme of things their struggles have inspired me more than their victories.
The hard times we go through must therefore become the greatest classrooms and stepping-stones we will ever have. I now know that people learn more from me when I share my struggles, losses, low days and trials than when I simply share my joys. We are taught to hide the struggle and share the good under the guise that it will put us in bad light. This weekend I realised that when I share my struggles or the walk through the dark times, someone else knows I am as human as they are. They can connect to me as a fellow traveller who is just a few steps ahead of them. That said, it is important to understand that your story affects others both negatively and positively and you need to ensure that they are open to the sharing of the same. This is key because we don’t live on an island and everything we do has a direct or indirect impact on others and it could put them in a positive or negative light. Think about that.
#MyStory will be real, authentic, a clear depiction of my journey and the struggles therewith. I have found off late that when I face the struggle and failings I am better able to connect to lessons that will help me avoid making the same mistakes or worse one. This real view of my life will also allow others to gain strength. By telling #MyStory as it is I will hold the hands of many others and we will reach greater heights and bring even greater glory to God.
Dare to share #YourStory and see the difference it makes.