Our stories affect one another whether we know it or not. Sometimes obedience isn’t for us at all, but for another. We don’t know how God holds the kingdom in balance or why he moves a chess piece at a crucial time; we might never see the results of his sovereignty… I might just be one shade of one color of one strand, but I’m a part of an elaborate tapestry that goes beyond my perception.
Jen Hatmaker, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess
I’ve been praying for a while now about this little space on the internet. I have prayed that God would use it in whatever way he wanted to. I have prayed for God to flood our story, and be a part of everything we share. I have prayed that through our story people would feel permission. Permission to believe in Jesus and pain, permission to believe that Jesus is good and life can really suck sometimes, permission to lay down the Christian jargon we so often feel is appropriate in hard times and just be okay with the hurt and the messy and the things that don’t make sense. There is a whole lot of holy tension in that place right there. I’ve been praying through which parts of our story to share and which parts should remain private to the masses. We’ve shared a lot. We’ve also not shared more. I have prayed we would be honest and real, but above all else we would be kind around here. I have written and deleted more than enough blog posts over the last several months. (One that may or may not have been titled, “Sh*t You Should Not Say To My Face.” Because y’all, some of the things we choose to say out loud to people are just unreal. Like, unreal.) There is a really fine line between being honest, real and kind. This I know. I’ve prayed that God would use our story for good in some way. I’ve just prayed about this corner of the internet a lot.
I remember over the summer, my prayers started to shift. I started talking to him about how I think I’m done telling our story. I don’t want to anymore. I don’t like our story. I don’t want it. I don’t want to have anything to say about adoption and loss or about grief or about hard things. I don’t want to have anything to say about finding joy and moving forward and approaching God in new ways. It’s hard work telling hard stories. It’s not like anyone is making me tell it, I’m just doing it because I don’t know anymore. I’m tired of trying to put words to feelings. I’m tired of hashing out these blog posts that leave me feeling raw. I’m tired of being honest and real and kind. I’m just tired of our story and I’m tired of telling it. Our story that was and is and the story that will be. I don’t want this story and I don’t want to tell it anymore.
God is so patient and good. It baffles me. If I were God I would have reached down from heaven and patted my head and just said, “Okay little dumb dumb. Whatever you say.” Or after the millionth time I said this I would have just plugged my ears and started humming to drown out the noise of my voice. I would be a terrible God.
Every time though, I kept feeling him say, “Tell your story. Your story is not just for you. Your story serves a much higher purpose than that. Your story is for me. Your story is for my purpose. Your story is for the kingdom. A lot of other people are depending on this story of yours.”
What a reminder though, right? Isn’t that the purpose of all of our stories? It’s like he gently pushed me back to the realization that this story, MY story, is not mine at all. It is his and has always been his. There is a mighty purpose in our stories. Our stories tell tales of hurt and loss and hard things, but our stories also tell tales of redemption and restoration and things made new. Our stories tell of hope and a better place and Jesus. Our stories are kingdom work. A mighty purpose, indeed.
Jesus is doing some serious work inside of my heart these days. He is redeeming and restoring things I thought would be eternally broken. He is making me long for heaven. He has broken our story in ways that simply bring me to my knees, and I’d rather be there than anywhere else. He has become real and powerful and sovereign to me. He is teaching me that in this life we will suffer for the sake of the kingdom. It’s what we signed on for. He’s showing me that being brave and being terrified can exist in the exact same moment. He is constantly pointing me back to the goodness of Jesus.
I no longer feel like I have to tell this story. Instead I’m kind of in awe that I get to. [I still don’t want this story, don’t you dare hear that.] You can write that with tears in your eyes, right? Y’all, we GET to tell our stories. We get to boldly go forth and proclaim Jesus in the middle of the hard and the crap and the messy. We get to tell of his goodness in the middle of the amazing and the sweet. That is the gospel. That is good news. That right there is a little slice of the kingdom on earth.
Maybe this one is more for me today than it is for you. But maybe it’s not. Maybe you need the reminder, too. So here’s to that today, y’all. Let’s keep telling and sharing and showing up and being brave and and being real and pointing each other towards Jesus. There is a deep purpose that spreads far and wide in doing that. And really, what’s the point of this life if we stop doing that anyways?
Here’s the truth about telling stories with your life. It’s going to sound like a great idea, and you’re going to get excited about it, and then when it comes time to do the work, you’re not going to want to do it. It’s like that with writing books, and it’s like that with life. People love to have lived a great story, but few people like the work it takes to make it happen. But joy costs pain.
Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years