The past 10 days or so have been full of stories for me. While my life as an extrovert and a pastor typically is swirling with stories, these ones have been different some how. Some have come from family, some from friends, some from coworkers, and some from perfect strangers. There has been joy and tragedy in my community this week, and extreme emotions often lead to story telling. I’m amazed that in my small community, there can be so many different stories in one short amount of time.
I saw my church support a family going through an unthinkable tragedy as they laid their 16 year old son to rest. With funerals come pictures and stories and hugs and tears, and there were plenty of those in Holland this week. I learned about the life of a sweet boy, who now is living out the best adventure in Heaven. I also, through various social media and news reports, learned about an elementary school teacher diagnosed with a brain tumor, a friend mourning the loss of her mother, bombings at airports in Turkey, a coach that I admired as a child dying early of Alzheimer’s, and the disappointment of my husband not getting a job that he was interviewing for. This is just one small section of the tragedy and pain that happened in the world in the past 10 days, just from my small town and my small community.
I also saw joy as friends got married and celebrated new life together. I think that the smile on the face of a groom when he sees his bride walking down the aisle is one of the best things in the world. Even though I could not be a part of each celebration, I celebrated from a far for babies, weddings, engagements, closing on new houses, and a variety of other small victories that come in every day life. I was able to walk on the beach with my family and a cup of mackinaw island fudge ice cream and see a beautiful sunset. I took a drive with my husband and we sang off-key country songs as loud as we good and laughed until we cried. I (along with my staff) welcomed multiple new families into my church, and met the sweetest 6 year old girl who asked a million questions, and a sweet 3 year old boy who, after helping him get his Goldfish crackers for snack, hugged my arm and exclaimed “teacher I LOVE YOU!” during the middle of our movie.
All of this in just my life in just 10 days. Just one small piece of the greater story around the world. One small piece of the story of God that we are all living in to as a part of His creation. One small town and one small stretch of time.
Through out these various pieces in the past 10 days, I’ve realized the importance of telling stories in each one. We grieve through stories when a story ends too soon, we celebrate the beginning of a new story, we remember moments that become a part of our story, and we live in community with others to create stories that are bigger than ourselves. Each event (big or small) is marked by a story.
As a pastor, I want to encourage the kids and families that I work with to tell their story. Whether it is good or bad or tragic or beautiful, we all have a story to tell. Our story is formed throughout the years of our lives, each page written by the places we go and the people we know and the experiences that we have. Our emotions and our fears and loves all help us write the words that we need to tell our stories, and if we are brave, we share our stories with those around us. Even if we do not share, we are still a part of the greater story that surrounds us each day.
Maybe, if I’m feeling brave next week, I’ll share with you part of my story?
In the meanwhile, I’m enjoying the story that I’m living – in the tragic and the beautiful, I know that I am a part of a community, and a family, and something much bigger than I could ever imagine as a part of God’s story.