In part 1, we talked about the fact that everyone has a story and focused on stories that involve hurts, disappointments, loss, sorrow, anger, etc. While living through such a story, we often feel isolated and alone. Sometimes we feel embarrassed or ashamed and are therefore reluctant to talk about it, which only feeds that loneliness. But when you realize you are not alone; you can begin to open your mind to see potential positives or lessons to be learned that can help you get through it. I’m not talking about “silver linings” here but looking at the situation from the standpoint of trusting God to use every situation for something good.
For part 2, you’re probably expecting me to focus on the good stories – the ones of happiness, joy, excitement, love, togetherness, good fortune, etc. Honestly, that was my original intent. But we all know what to do with those stories, don’t we? We share them with others! When something good happens to you, you don’t keep it a secret…you tell people about it! So, as I began gathering thoughts for this post, there were no “deep” thoughts that came to my mind about happy stories, only these simple reminders: be humble, give credit where credit is due, and be sure you take time to listen to others’ stories in addition to sharing your own.
Then I received a blessing. A friend of ours shared these thoughts after reading Everyone has a Story Part 1. Clinton Haby is the owner of StoryKeeping, a video legacy service that captures the life experiences and stories of loved ones on camera so they can be shared with future generations. After reading my last blog, Clinton wrote me this note:
When I first started StoryKeeping, I came up with the tag line of "Highlights of a lifetime." But as I continued my work, I learned there were a couple things wrong with it. One, "lifetime" unintentionally implies I'm interviewing that person at the very end of their life and capturing the entirety of their lifetime. This is impossible. We never know when our time will come, and as long as God continues to give us a tomorrow, our story isn't finished, right?
Secondly, focusing on the "highlights" is a complete disservice to a person's experiences. Without the challenges, the highlights have no context and no value. If we only focused on highlights, the future generations watching our production wouldn't even find our stories believable. No one's life is a continuous highlight. That's unsustainable, and even if it was, no one would want to watch it because no lessons would be learned.
It's in the ups and downs that we obtain the values worth passing down to others. That's what our story is all about. It's not about us but how we use it to empower others.
The obvious truth is that we all have both positive and negative stories. It’s called life. Without both, there would be no choices to make, no need for free will, no lessons to learn, no wisdom to pass on.
The question I asked before comes to mind again: What are you doing with your story?
Are you taking inventory of all the negative things that are happening to you and those you love? I sometimes feel overwhelmed when I’m praying for others because the list is SO long, even for just our two families! Add friends to that and praying for each one individually seems daunting. I am grateful that I don’t have to remind God of what’s going on with each person…he knows better than I do. You can’t help but ask “When is it going to stop?!” It’s easy to fall into that rabbit-hole & get sucked into a perspective of negativity. We must work hard to consciously avoid the rabbit hole because it only leads to despair. I do so by acknowledging that God is in control.
Or do you choose to maintain a positive outlook and count your blessings? When things are tough – when you’re struggling or hurting – it takes making the choice daily to seek out positives. Dean and I have worked hard over the last two and a half months to do this. We make it a point to talk about the good things—the gift of seeing how God has been working in our life, the lessons we are learning and how we can use those lessons to help others. We share with each other the sadness or frustrations we feel, and then do our best to lift each other up. We believe that there is purpose in our struggles, because if life was all roses, then what we share wouldn’t be as impactful.
What will you do with your story?
Share it -- both the ups and the downs – but be conscious of what message you are delivering – is it positive or negative? Please be aware of what values you are passing down and aim for assurance, encouragement, empathy, sympathy, hope, and grace. It might not seem like it now, but it is possible to share your struggles and remain hopeful just as you can share your victories and encourage others.
Use your story to empower others.