We all have a story. One day we began. From that moment on, events unfolded that made us who we are today. What were those events? From the very beginning of our life words were spoken that told us about our value. What were those words? Those words whether they were positive or negative influenced how we wrote our own individual story. If in the beginning, we had hard times, times of being alone, misunderstood, mistreated, or abandoned we might have concluded we had no worth, no value. If we heard affirming words, if we experienced love and acceptance and heard words that spoke of how special we were we concluded we were ok. I think all our stories contain both positive and negative chapters. The sun doesn’t always shine; sometimes we find ourselves in a dark lonely place. Sometimes that dark place is a result of our own choices and sometimes we were put there by others. Our story changes. It’s like a novel with characters and plots, scenes and themes. We can read a novel and learn from the mistakes of the main characters. We can reflect on the themes of love trust and faith. We may even like a novel so much we share it with others hoping they too can see a glimpse of how a person can overcome hard times, love despite the hate, and continue living when all seems lost. Great writers can inspire while telling a story.
We have our own personal story. We might be afraid to share all of it. But we know there were times when we were very weak when we appeared strong and confident to others. There were times usually after midnight that we wondered about the meaning of life; times when we replayed repeatedly the harsh words we heard as a child, the harsh words we heard from a spouse or friend. Maybe someone needs to know our story. It might be hard to relate to an unseen God but easier to relate to a living breathing person who had challenges just as we did. I can quote verses that tell of God’s love and how that love can make a difference but you would probably understand more if you heard my story.
I was born three months early. The oxygen and ultraviolet lights used to keep me alive damaged my optic nerve. I’ve never seen the world around me. One of my earliest memories of God came from a country church my grandmother and Mom took me too. They were so very sad I couldn’t see, and they wanted someone to pray for God to restore my sight. I was very small probably around three years old or so. I remember the organ music, the singing, and then an older man placing his hands on my forehead and praying. He asked God to give me sight. After the prayer there was silence and then he asked me “Little girl, don’t you believe in God,” I shook my head yes. He asked me if I believed God could give me sight? Again, I shook my head yes. God could do anything. Everyone knows that. He then said I must not believe because the Bible said if we had faith and asked we would receive what we asked for. I felt sad How can a three-year-old know what is meant by faith?. Could it be that God didn’t like me for some reason? This was a grown man, he knew things. I decided it must be true God didn’t like me. The man had prayed and believed. I guessed it was somehow my fault. That had to be it. For the longest time, I had a faulty image of God. I felt sad because I was different. I didn’t fit in. I always tried to talk to the kids no one else noticed. I knew how it was to be different. I didn’t realize it but my circumstance was teaching me empathy, compassion, and I instinctively gave to others what I wanted most to be loved and accepted.
Once I grew up and could read the Bible for myself I learned that God wasn’t a vending machine where you put in a certain kind of prayer and got what you wanted back. The older gentleman had asked God to restore my sight. There is more than one way of seeing. We can see with our eyes the colors and beauty of the world. We can see the surface. But I often know when a person is sad even if they are smiling. One can see with their ears, with their heart, and by the Spirit. God did indeed answer that prayer just not in the way the man had wanted. I came to know that God does love me, and all the negative things I went through, every time I felt left out and ignored helped to make me who I am today If I had never heard harsh words would I cherish loving words as much?. I saw glimpses of God’s love in a soft touch, in-kind words. I saw what love looks like when our church family helped us raise the money needed for a kidney transplant. Love is more than red roses, more than a perfect body, it is action. If we love, we do something.
My story is full of all sorts of emotions. It is my story unique to me. I have something no one does that can describe God and his love. I know because I have seen and continue to see God’s love in my unfolding story. Don’t hate your story and wish you had someone else’s. Look at your story in a new light and see glimpses of love, courage, and strength. See how hard times made you who you are, see that good times gave you joy. Determine to share your story with a world who is desperate to know that there is indeed a God who will love them despite their story.