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,