The summer before Sarah went into the 9th grade she had to read Huckleberry Finn. She hated it. Then school started and the first couple of weeks were spent going through the story with her teacher. He expanded her knowledge of the story penned by Mark Twain and helped her understand it. When they were finished two things had happened. First, she liked the story much more and second, she actually wanted to reread it.
Over the weekend I listened to a conference about being people of story. Not just some random story either, but His story; THE story He is crafting and writing. It's not really a question of if we will be story tellers but what story we will tell. The idea being that we are all telling a story...either a good one or bad one...a story that reflects truth, beauty, and goodness or lies, ugliness, and rottenness. We're either reflecting back the greater story, the story of who God is, or we're telling a broken and fractured story marred by sin.
A husband and wife tell a story not just about each other but what they believe about marriage and Jesus and His bride, the Church.
Parents and children tell a story about God as Father.
Friends tell a story about Jesus as Friend.
How we use our money tells a story of God as Provider.
How we are with neighbors (the ones next door and people in general) tells a story about God as Creator.
The speaker went on to share that we shouldn't just be story tellers but story readers as well. If I am in a story and you are in a story and the guy down the street is in a story and the check out girl is in a story then it makes sense that we should be reading each others stories. God uses these stories to teach us, to reveal something to us whether it's a warning or encouragement, or lessons in foolishness and wisdom. She also went on to tell us why we don't want to read other people's stories.
We dress it up with the oh so spiritual quip of "Judge not, lest you be judged" but the truth of the matter is more along the lines of, "Don't look lest you be looked at". If I read your story I am inviting you to read mine. And you may read quite a different story than the little fairy tale I have crafted for myself. And who really wants to be the emperor being told he has no clothes on?
But here's the thing. We need proof readers in our life. We need editors to look for errors in our stories. We need each other to add texture and plot to our stories. We need to teach each other, and most assuredly to learn from each other, in the same way that Sarah learned to love Huck Finn from having someone else help her read it.
My Mother kept our children for us while we were in Idaho. I have been thinking a lot about this idea of story telling and I wanted to know what she read while she was in my home for a week. So I asked her. I asked her to tell me what story she read in how I care and tend for my home. How I manage the everyday stuff. It seems I have a pretty emphatic chapter on which way light switches should be positioned if there are multiple ones for a single room :-)
I also gathered the courage to ask her about my kids. What story did she see from each of them? What story did they tell as siblings? What story did she read about how Rob and I parent and govern our home and family?
The important thing about our proofreaders is that they need to be people we can trust to be honest. People who will speak truth into our stories and not just give us some fluffy feel good pats on the back. My Mother wasn't mean or ruthless slashing her way through my world with a giant red marker but she answered my question. She confirmed some things that I thought I was seeing and she helped me get a good perspective on the overall story and how some of the individual plot lines were connecting and conflicting with each other.
It's not easy to lay the manuscript of your life open for others to read much less edit. But if we are going to tell the story well we must. Each day is a new chapter fresh with new mercies. Each situation and circumstance is an opportunity to share the story of God, His love and grace with those around us.
What story are you telling?
Revisiting this post and sharing with Jennifer.