Everybody has a story… yes, even you have a story to tell. It may seem trivial to you but your story could just impact someone’s life!
It’s been such a topsy turvy time this side, my humblest apologies for not writing sooner. Having faced my giants, I was looking forward to the chance to quietly just find myself again. However, my Gran in Cape Town fell ill and was hospitalised. Things were not looking too good and so we raced up to see her. She is better thankfully, but, on return home, my sister fell very ill and was hospitalised. So my world has sort of been revolving around redoing the hospital’s decor in my head and trying to figure out why hospital coffee is SO bad..seriously, it nearly put me off coffee altogether..and that is saying something.
Anyway, so you get it, its been a stressful time this side, as I really don’t enjoy it when a family member is ill. My family are very important to me so when they aren’t feeling great I don’t either.
I finally sat down today to write, and what struck me the most is that it is the eve of what the world celebrates as Christmas.
If ever there was a story more powerful, it would be the timeless story of Jesus’ life. Yes, I am aware the He wasn’t actually born on the 25th of December and yes I am very aware that (kids, look away) there is no such thing as Santa….. but I still am going to take this time to enjoy the companionship and camaraderie of friends and family, the ultimate and life changing present (and presence) of my Saviour, as well as just the sheer joy of being alive.
This got me thinking about everyone’s life story. If you had a day marked off on the calendar to celebrate your life what would that day be called? ‘I survived cancer’ day, ‘I survived a break up’ day, or ‘I am mother to 5′ day? Only you would know what Your story entails and what your special day would be called.
I recently read a book called Baking Cakes in Kigali, by, Gaile Parkin. In it, the main character, Angel, lives in Kigali, Rwanda, and runs a cake baking business. Angel tells of the sheer devastation that took place in Rwanda, and how the people in it are now lifting their heads and finding reason to celebrate, as she is often asked to bake a cake for a celebration party. Ordering a cake is an event itself, with every customer being offered sweet spicy tea and the space to tell the story behind the celebration. As a cake baking ‘professional’ she offers confidentiality and a safe space for people to share their heart, and would hear all kinds of stories, some happy, some sad and some strange! Francois, a customer and friend, shares the story of how she and her husband hid people in the roof of the restaurant they owned to protect them from the killers. They found out about this and one night they came and attacked and killed members of her family.
“eh, Francois, you have told me a very sad story,” said Angel, shaking her head. “But at least you survived.”
Francois rolled her eyes up in her head, slid down from her bar stool, and drained her glass. Then she took a deep breath, and with one hand on her hip and the other on the bar counter, she said, “Let me tell you something about surviving, Angel. People talk about survival as if it’s always a good thing; but ask around most survivors, and you’ll find that many will admit that survival is not always the better choice. There are many of us who wish everyday that they had not survived. Do you think I feel blessed to see what I saw every time I close my eyes and try to sleep?…”
“Eh, its a very sad thing you are telling me, Francois.” Angel reached into her brassiere for a tissue, removed her glasses, and dabbed her eyes.
“I’m telling you because you’re my friend, Angel, but what I am telling you is not something unusual. There are many survivors who feel like I feel.”
Angel shook her head and was silent for a while before she spoke. She put her glasses back on. “Francois, my friend, you have educated me today. These things have not been easy for me to hear, but now I understand better, thank you for telling me.”
“No, Angel, I am the one who must thank you. Thank you for being someone who has ears to hear my story and a heart that wants to understand it. Francois flashed her teeth in a wide smile,and Angel found herself smiling back.”
Ginger Stache, a writer for Joyce Meyer’s ‘Enjoying Everyday Life’ magazine, writes about helping people realise their happy endings. She writes:
”Her words had me riveted. She struggles to share her story with me and nearly couldn’t make it through. There came a point where she melted in to my arms, tears choking off the syllables. As she clung to me and cried, her life permanently became a part of mine – I would never forget her pain or the grace of God that set her free.
Our Stories are powerful. When we share a story or listen to someone else’s, we connect in a uniquely personal way. That’s one of the reasons Jesus told parables, or more simply put, stories. He was a master at drawing people in and teaching lessons in a way that they would remember. Countless people have shared their stories and I have listened.
I have learnt that People desperately need us to listen, to be broken with them, and to respond with Christ’s MERCY and GRACE. That is often their primary need – to see in our eyes the God who weeps with them and longs to heal.”
I understand all too clearly that it’s very difficult for many people to hear such stories…that is the rough stuff that breaks our heart or brings our own painful memories to the surface. But when God gives you the opportunity to listen and help, don’t turn away. He will strengthen and equip you.
Our challenge is not to grow calloused or squeamish but to be His ears as we listen and His arms as we respond in love.”
Wow.. What a way of putting it! Everyone has a story to share, if we would just acknowledge their heartbrokenness, pain or struggle. You story may be one of those, and let me tell you – YOU MATTER AND YOUR STORY MATTERS!!!
I could tell you some silly stories about how as a child I played vet vet and would inject all our slippers that looked like animals with my sister’s diabetic insulin injections, or how I baked delicious muffins (bright blue I will add) at the age of 4. I could also tell you how I had a spazz colon in primary school and had to drink enough disgusting chemicals to make sure I was flushed from any food blockage…..(don’t ever offer me chicken soup or apple juice), how I nearly died at age 16 when I was incorrectly treated by a doctor. I could tell you of a 3 year roller coaster relationship, how at age 20 I was brutally sexually assaulted, how my parents were both retrenched when I was younger, how we lost a beautiful family home etc.
I can also tell you countless happy stories of how delighted I am to be alive, how blessed I am with an amazing family, loving friends, and that the next chapters are going to be ones of restoration, that I am going to speak at conferences, run seminars and organise events, how I am going to travel the world with my husband, how my story is going to impact other people’s stories, and how their stories in turn will impact other’s stories….and so the dandelion seed goes from one flower and grows another, whose seed in turn grows another, whose seed…
Don’t hold on until your story has a happy ending. It is worth being heard right now, just as it is.
My wish is that you will both find, and be, a heart that wants to understand.
Wishing you a beautiful and festive Christmas week.