You’re driving down the highway heading to work, or the airport, or home, keeping pace with the traffic but able to maintain that wonderful comfort bumper of space between you and other cars. Suddenly a car appears right beside you, going way too fast, cuts in front of you WAY too close, then zig zags through traffic, driving like a madman (or madwoman). And you think to yourself, “What an idiot! He’s gonna kill somebody!” Some of you will get angry, honk the horn, yell at the crazy driver, maybe even speed up to try to let him (or her) know how unhappy you are.
I pray for them.
“Whaaaaat?” you might ask. Yep, honestly my first reaction might be “idiot!”, but then I pray…because even though they might just be an aggressive driver (idiot or jerk), it is quite possible that something is going on in their life which is bringing out this dangerous behavior. So, I ask God to keep everyone around them safe (including me), to help them get where they’re going safely, and to help whatever is wrong get resolved. Why do I do that? Because…
“Everyone has a story.”
That person might be running super late. Or he may have just had a huge fight with his wife before leaving home. She may be coming from a doctor’s appointment where she was told she has cancer. He may have just been laid off at work. She may not have gotten the promotion she expected. He could have recently lost a loved one. She might be in an abusive relationship and feel trapped. The list of possible scenarios goes on and on.
Everyone has a story.
What’s yours? Is it something going on right now or something from your past that still affects how you live? And how does it affect you? Emotionally? Mentally? Physically? Spiritually?
Some of you are thinking “Which story? I have so many!” I know! Sometimes I feel like this current story of losing our son is not THE story, but the next chapter of the book, or the next episode of our 'This is the Foxes' original streaming series. It could be scary to realize that there will be more. Unless…
What if your “story” is not about this event? What if this event is the current plot, not the main one? What if, instead, your story – the one others need to hear or see – is really what you DO with your experience? Are you holding a grudge or extending forgiveness? Are you allowing it to make you angry, even aggressive? Are you taking out your frustration on others? Or are you looking for ways to get through it with grace? Are you looking for positives among the negatives? Are you trying to hide something? Or is your mind open to learn something?
Everyone has a story. You have a story. What will you do with it?
First, please realize that you are not alone. Dean & I are not alone. We are not walking on an unexplored path; neither are you. Regardless of what your experience is, there is a whole community of others who have gone before you, before us. Some did so gracefully and grew from the experience; others allowed it to tear them apart. We can learn from either but must be careful in choosing whose examples to follow.
Dean & I believe that God has a plan for what we are to do with our story, that we are to use it – our grief and our sorrow of course, but most importantly our peaceful hearts to minister to others – starting with our son & daughter-in-law and our family. We are to let you know that you are not alone, and you do not have to get through this on your own. Our purpose is to share our story and how God is protecting us with his grace, which provides us with his peace, so that you also may experience that same protection and peace. (If you want to hear more about how God is doing that, please look back to my previous blogs, Grace over Grief and Oh good Grief.)
If you are like me, as you begin to open up and share even just a glimpse of what you’re going through (or have gone through) with others, you are discovering some who have had similar experiences. I learned firsthand years ago that they will come from the most unexpected encounters! Each time it happens, you feel a little less alone. Then you’ll meet someone who shares with you first that they are experiencing something difficult, and you can be the one who says “I understand. I had a similar experience.” Hopefully, what you say to them next will be words of encouragement so they will walk away feeling less alone.
If you can’t do that because no one has done so for you, please reach out and let us know. You and I don’t have to have stories with the same plot; just the fact that we both have a story is all we need to have in common. You may just need to have someone who will listen to your story, without judgment. I’m here. I’m willing to listen. I’ve heard many different types of stories from my coaching & counseling clients. If I can help, I will. If you need to be pointed in the right direction for help elsewhere, I can do that too. The virtual door is open, and I welcome you to step through and say “Hi, Jan. Do you have a few minutes? I have a story…”