I finally got to see Donald Miller, one my favorite authors, speak a few weeks ago in Whittier about his book, A Million Miles in a 1,000 Years.
This book and lecture is about story. The story we are telling with our lives. How we live. What drives us. What are our goals. Role of conflict? How do we live to make sure that our lives tell an epic journey?
It really made me think about my life, especially where I am now and what’s next for me. Yet what really grabbed me most was his notion that God doesn’t have a specific plan for our lives and that we are not complete in Him. So what then is the story and how do we tie into HIStory and if we are not complete in God what’s the point? Thought provoking isn’t it. Don’t call it blasphemous just yet.
Who doesn’t love a good story? The love, the fight, the drama, the comedy. It’s why we go to the movies. It’s why we read book. It is what transports us to another time and place. We are inspired, horrified, scared, captivated and engaged.
All the while we are writing our own story, full of the same emotions, plot points and events. Yet there are so many elements of our lives we keep hidden. We’re afraid we’re the only ones. We’re worried about being judged. We’re ashamed of what happened to us or what we’ve done.
Yet my old pastor always said, “We’re only as sick as our secrets.” It makes a world of difference as soon as we begin to give voice to what is happening to us, what we’ve been through and how we are feeling. It empties out brain space. It frees up our heart to move on, so we don’t get stuck in the mire of our circumstance.
This is in part why I chose to blog. Some write stories. Some sing songs. Others write poetry, paint or play an instrument. Anything is better than being silent. Anything is better that being alone. Anything is better than quiet surrender. We have to fight for ourselves. We have to shout, in a way that is healthy, so we can be set free.
My friend Jenn is choosing to give voice to her story of breast cancer. At 34 she is facing a stage three diagnosis, a mastectomy, chemo, losing her hair and fighting for her life all within about a week. To reach out for support and keep those who love her updated on her progress she is blogging through it. I am amazed at her strength, resilience, faith and the joy in her journey so far. I know there isn’t much I can do but pray and her blog helps me do that more specifically.
We are also part of a bigger story that God is telling through us. All of our stories overlap and interact with others. We are not alone. We are part of a huge family. In that there is comfort, encouragement and faith. In the midst of pain it is easy to burrow inward. It is easy to become destructive or self-sabotage. But having the courage to speak out means that we can be held accountable, someone can give reason to our voices of insanity. Or in some cases someone to just give us a hug and tell us to hang on.
I think my friend Erika is right in that we are all a beacon of hope for someone who isn’t as far in their story as we are. We get to lead the way for someone, if we let ourselves speak of what God has done, how he has provided, how he has healed, how he has disciplined and even through how we suffered.
It’s easy for me to forget these things. I want to shut down. I want to block out. I have done that a bit over the last few months. The pain of my parent’s divorce was just too fresh. The death of our family unit was overwhelming. I was fighting out of wallowing in it. I was trying to help my parents. I was trying to be there for my brother. I didn’t know how to be there for myself. I just slipped into survival mode.
I am so grateful for those friends that have kept me sane. I am so blessed with their love, joy, distractions, prayers, encouragement and support. They have made this time of pain tolerable. There have been moments when I didn’t want to talk to God. I was angry at him, yet I knew that I was getting his voice through them. They kept speaking truth. They kept speaking love.
As I come out of the shock and denial of what is happening I can finally begin to give voice to everything. I am starting to process out what it all means to me. I learning how to have a different kind of relationship with my parents and my brother.
It’s all a process.