Storytelling: The Current Story

Stories make up this world that we live in.

If you think about it long enough, you realize that all the things that happen during our lives are not only part of our bigger story, but they are also individual stories in their own right. Individual stories that have meaningful, lasting, impacts on not only ourselves but on the people around us at that time in the past, at this time in the present, and at some time in the future. And when you put it that way, it can feel one of two ways: either a lot heavier, or a lot more freeing.

For me personally, I love stories – of all kinds. I love reading and listening to other peoples’ stories and other peoples’ lives. What I’m not always good at is telling and writing my own stories. I realize today, during this current story, that that’s a common theme within humanity. It’s easier to sit in silence and focus on other peoples’ stories than to come to grips with and vocalize our own. At the moment in which we are comfortable with that, I find that God uses someone else’s story (even someone we’ve never met) to impact our own, and stir within us the desire to share our story.

That’s what happened to me today, during this 8.5 hour ride from Staley, North Carolina back to Hope, Indiana. The person God is using is Jamie Tworkowski and his book “If You Feel Too Much”. I’ve never met Jamie – although I did hear him speak at a conference once – but I can say I feel connected to him. I can say that his stories continue to impact my own in ways I never dreamt they would. I could talk… or rather write… pages about Jamie, the good he is doing and the impact he is having on my stories and the stories of countless people. It’s human nature to divert attention to someone else instead of ourselves when it comes to the tough parts. What is important today is that Jamie reminded me that writing my stories, it’s engrained in who I am. When I’m not writing these stories, when I’m not vocalizing them I don’t feel like myself as much as I should.

Here’s the current story.

The current story that I’m in, the one that fits inside the 27 (and a half) year story of my life is one of restless content. I realize that’s an oxymoron… so let me explain.

I like my life. I have a great job, a nice home, reliable truck, many friends, a small group of trusted advisors, and an amazing family. I’m content with those things (most of the time). I have no need to complain, and believe me when I say I’m not doing that here. This isn’t me trying to find a reason to write by looking for something to complain about – this is me organizing the restlessness and telling this story. Where I find myself feeling restless is in the kind of work I’m doing, the changes that come along with investing in other people’s stories, and the often annoying uncertainty of what God is doing “behind the scenes”. I have to say that being restlessly content is quite the double edged sword. One edge being that I am thankful for the way that God has blessed me, the other edge being I am… expectant for what is to come, both the good and the seemingly bad.

The writer in me is almost always trying to finish the end of a story before it’s time. I can compare my thought process as being very similar to a “Pick-your-own-ending” novel. You remember what I’m talking about, those books where the author would present a cliff-hanging-esque moment and then write “If you want to explore the dark, cold cavern go to page 57 OR if you want to walk back to your truck and drive to your Mom’s house for pie turn to page 71.” If you and I are honest with ourselves, we know we ultimately try to read both without getting confused. We want to be risk takers within our stories, but also stick to what’s comfortable. What that means for this current story that I find myself in is a lot of time considering both scenarios, and ultimately being none-the-wiser for doing so. Whether it’s navigating a friendship that has changed drastically, planning my career path, anticipating the next big accomplishment, or deciphering a stirring in my heart for someone I’m not sure I had thought of in that way previously – I want to “cheat the system” and explore both endings before it happens. I want to skip ahead and write my own ending. Ultimately that ending is the friendship returns to what it once was and I get the girl. We all want to create the endings to our own stories. And while we have an impact in the direction of our stories, we are merely the protagonist, while God is the Author.

What I’m learning is that my choices, in fact, due lead to the ending to my stories. Slowly. What I’m realizing is that if I keep trying to jump to the ending, I miss the rest of the story. If the classics jumped from beginning to end without the story in the middle, they wouldn’t be classics. How many people would be talking about Moby Dick 165 years later if it said “Call me Ishmel.” And then the next words were “Now small fowls flew screaming over the yet yawning gulf; a sullen white surf beat against its steep sides; then all collapsed, and the great shroud of the sear rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago.” The only thing that would be said about a story written like that, would be that the author was a nut job and the book was awful. There is beauty in the journey of the story.

That’s the moral of my current story. That there is beauty in the journey of the story. At some point in a future story I’ll look back at this story, at the confusion, the uncertainty, the enjoyment, the restlessness and the contentment – and I’ll wish I had slowed down enough to appreciate the journey of that story. I’m realizing this current story is one worth telling, and that’s very telling in and of itself.

To be continued…

Grace and Peace,


It just took one bad tumble...

This last two months has been... interesting? I'm not sure if that's the right word in all honesty. In fact, I'm not sure if any of the words you are going to find here are the right words. However, I am going to write them anyway. The question is where do I begin to process things, which lesson do I start with first, who do I give the first thank you too...

Instead of trying to give you the play by play of the last two months, let me just start with the most recent lesson. A lesson, that I did not realize God was teaching me until about 10 minutes ago, before I pulled my MacBook off the counter. You see, today something happened to me for the first time... today, I broke the screen on my iPhone. I know what some of you may be thinking, "first world problems" and you would be correct. When I dropped my phone (without a case mind you) as I got out of my truck this morning, and watched it fall in slow motion to the concrete floor of the parking garage, I felt the anger and disappointment rise inside me. I have carried a smart phone for 6 years, and never once have I broken it. In the 14 years I've had a cell phone, I can't recall ever breaking one. I began to beat myself up over it with silly thoughts of "Why didn't you have a case on it dummy" and "If you would be more careful this wouldn't have happened". Funny thing is, those things aren't true nor are there guarantees that a case or being more careful would have prevented it from breaking. Naturally I told a few people, and the one response that really stuck out was "It just took one bad tumble". All day I kept playing that comment over and over in my head. When 10 minutes ago it hit me that God was using this silly phone to teach me a lesson.

You see, the last two months have been difficult for me, despite the fact that very few people know that. I haven't been honest with a lot of people about the things I've been facing. In fact, the person who sent that text today, doesn't even know the whole story -- or the impact that text had on me. That statement "It just took one bad tumble" pretty much sums up the last two months. It's been one bad tumble for me on an emotional and spiritual level the last 8 weeks. Of course my immediate reaction to a broken phone, was that I needed to replace it. Buy a new one, fix it somehow, do anything I could to "bandage" it. That's what we do with our lives when they take a tumble. We look for the quick fix, we look to replace the problem. The funny thing, is that aside from a few cracks at the top of the screen it's fully functioning, there's nothing wrong with it really. In all honesty, as I've sat here this evening, I've noticed how much better care I've taken of it. Which is how we should respond to our lives when we take a tumble. God doesn't replace us once we are broken, he doesn't try to find a way to change what has happened in the past... He uses it to teach us to take better care of our lives, and shows us that there is nothing wrong with a few cracks.

I've always talked about the beauty of brokenness. Somehow I forgot to listen to my own words. I talk a lot about transparency, but I've failed miserably to do that in the last 8 weeks as well. While I don't think I need to list out all of the cracks at this moment, mainly because I know some of them are meant to be between myself and God, I do know that I needed to write this. Maybe it's just for myself, maybe it's so God can continue to teach me the things He's doing, the ways in which He is working. I'm not really sure. What I do know is that God is starting to connect the cracks that have appeared the last 8 weeks. He's teaching me the stories of each line, showing me what it leads to next. And just like with this phone, those cracks are going to grow, change direction, connect to one another, and ultimately at some point, create a situation in which I need to retire the current version of my phone and move on to something new, and something different. Which, is exactly what He does with our "one bad tumble". Over time, the wounds, the cracks, the brokenness I have felt over the last 8 weeks will grow some, it will change directions, they will all connect with each other. And once they do, God will use that time to retire that season of my life, that version of me, and move me towards something new, and something different.

The beauty is in the breakdown.

Grace and Peace,