a better story

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

We have to trust that our stories deserve to be told. We may discover that the better we tell our stories the better we will want to live them.
~Henri Nouwen

I think that part of what brought me here, to this place, to this online thing that a lot of people just don't get, is my desire to live a better story. This quote resonates with me in a way that I can not even describe. I've been sitting with this idea of a better story for quite some time. This seed was planted in my heart when I first read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. When he talked about our stories, one of the things that stuck with me was essentially this idea: if you don't like how your story is being lived, then live a better story! Especially during this season of my life, is my story being told, is my story being lived in a 'better' way?

I've finally received some clarity for part of my story. No secret that I am in love with Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts. Not everyone responds in the same way to the same books, and I'm the first to admit that some of the previous 'hot' Christian books I did not find impacting at all. Thus, I wondered if other people were as profoundly moved by her writing as I am. I started participating in a book club over at Bloom (in)courage, and it seems that I am definitely not alone in my appreciation for what God gave Ann to write.

This week was chapter one. It starts in pain. Deep, dark pain. I really wonder if this is the common denominator for the women who are most moved by this book. The knowledge, the kindred over our deepest, darkest pain. Towards the end of the chapter, however, Ann talks about the holes in our soul:
"I wonder too...if the rest in the canvas of our life backdrop, the losses that puncture our world, our own emptiness, might actually become places to see.  To see through to God.  That that which tears open our souls, those holes that splatter our sight, may actually become the thin, open places to see through the mess of this place to the heart-aching beauty beyond. To Him. To the God whom we endlessly crave....
How do we choose to allow the holes to become seeing-through-to-God places? To more-God places? How do I give up resentment for gratitude, gnawing anger for spilling joy? Self-focus for God-communion."
I didn't catch this as clearly the first time through, but the second time I read this chapter, something just clicked for me. What I've been praying for, longing for, spending all my time and efforts and energy towards is the repair, the rescue, the redemption of all that's broken in me, in my family, in this world.When will God fix it? When will God make it right? Why won't He put the holes back together?

I'm asking all of these questions instead of looking at those holes as a means to see God. In my heart of hearts, what I'm truly longing for is not the 'fixing' of all that's wrong - even though that would be miraculous and lovely and I wouldn't turn it down - what I'm really craving is God Himself. He could put everything broken back together, but what good is it if I've missed Him in the meantime? I've been waiting for the redemption because I felt like that's when we'll see God, but if I'm missing God right here, right now, then I'm missing everything. This is the better story I need to be telling. Living.

book quote:
Voskamp, Ann
One Thousand Gifts
Zondervan, 2010

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