One evening earlier this week while in L.A. for shows, we stopped at Santa Monica pier to enjoy the Pacific Ocean and watch the sunset. As we walked the pedestrian bridge above the freeway, I couldn’t help noticing the sound of endless cars flying by underneath us. Where were these people going? How many of them had come to this city hoping to make it in the entertainment industry? How many of them were accountants? What were their stories?
I marvel at the diversity of humanity. Every person is a unique, unfolding story – a story that is part of God’s greater story. It’s amazing to consider the infinite possibilities. We aren’t just stories waiting to be observed, we are living, breathing stories that have the potential to impact others’ lives in great, small, simple, and profound ways! If each of us is a story being written by God and us, perhaps our constant question should be, “How does my story read?” When others look into our lives, what do they see?
I don’t know about you, but I often live as if the next chapter in my life is more important than the one I’m currently living. I forget the people I meet are reading me in that very moment, whether I like it or not. I also prefer that those people only see the lovely parts of my story. I somehow think if I seem all together, people will like me better. Or, if I maintain an air of independence and never mention that I’m blind, they won’t notice. Yeah, ridiculous I know.
I’m reminded again and again my broken parts have the potential to bring more hope to the people I meet than my pretense at being whole ever could. All parts of my story have the capacity to reach someone.
Every day I’m on the road, I’m impacted by the power of story. Just the other night, I met a beautiful story – a college student whose physical challenges had warranted multiple surgeries in the past couple years, but she had gained a beautiful, quiet strength and felt no need to complain. As she shared a bit of her story with me, I was so encouraged to thank God for not only my blessings but my challenges.
When off the road, I’m impacted by powerful stories, too. Since I started taking lots of Uber and Lyft rides, the number of fascinating stories I’ve encountered has gone through the roof. One Saturday night a couple weeks ago, I met G-Rocket. He had been an indie film-maker in Vegas, and actor on several soaps, and had even worked at a radio station in Jackson, MS, where I grew up. I totally remembered his voice from way back when!
He shared the impressive parts of his story and then revealed it had been a tough year. He had come to Nashville to continue his work, but also to take care of his mother, driving back and forth to Oklahoma where she lived. She had just passed away. She was ready to go, he told me. Her faith was strong, and she’d been longing for Heaven. He then asked me how long I’d been blind. We ended our ride by talking about what G-Rocket’s mom knew was true. Faith in God is paramount in coping with loss, or new seasons, or blindness, or whatever we might be facing in life. I loved meeting this fellow, and I’m thankful he was able to be honest about his story. It helped paint a beautiful, memorable picture of him in my mind, and made an impact on me – hopefully on both of us.
In these stories, I am reminded how each of us is a tangible reflection of God’s image. I want to keep that truth in mind as I meet new people. It is through others’ stories that I am invited to think differently and inspired to change.
Let’s slow down to notice the stories unfolding around us this week. Open your ears to listen and your heart to engage with each of them. As we read the stories of others, remember they are reading ours, too. The story God is unfolding in us is beautiful, powerful, and uniquely our own. Embrace it – even the broken parts. As you listen, keep in mind Paul’s words from 1 Cor. 13 about the ultimate redemption of our stories: Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. (1Cor.13:12)
What is a favorite story you’ve read recently? What parts of your story have you learned to be thankful for?