notes from niequist: my life story

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every life tells a story, through words and actions and choices, through our homes and our children, through our clothes and dishes and perfumes. we each play a character in a grand drama, and every single direction matters. we tell our stories, and we let God’s story be told through our stories. we hide and we seek, we lose ourselves in the best possible way, and find things around us and inside ourselves that we never expected. we tell God’s story as we live and discover our own. we know that God is a storyteller. He’s a mad scientist and a father and a magician, and certainly He’s a storyteller. and i don’t know if there’s anything better in the world than when we lay ourselves wide open and let His story become our story, when we screw up our fists and our courage and start to tell the truest, best stories we know, which are always God’s stories.

“hide and seek” | pg. 137 | shauna niequist | cold tangerines

in true voracious plane-reading fashion, i finished cold tangerines on my flight to nashville on friday morning. while my affections for shauna’s first literary piece weren’t as fervent as those for her sophomoric attempt in bittersweet, i still managed to dog-ear a chapter or three, and be inspired by her raw authenticity all the same. perhaps one of my favorite portions of the book came in the above excerpted chapter, “hide and seek.” within its pages, shauna laments about her struggle with writing and the risk involved with revealing the deepest, most honest parts of her life. one of the true hazards in writing is that you yearn to write deeply honest things that rise up from lessons learned the hard way…and then you have to learn those things the hard way… you pray for wonderful honest, gritty, tender stories to write, but then you have to live through them…but that’s how life is. the riskiest things always yield the best, most beautiful things. 

on sunday, B and i attended midtown fellowship, her home church, and a place i’ve come to love with each passing visit to nashville. on this particular sunday, the pastor’s message focused on this same concept of life stories. he went on to explain that while our stories may be flawed, they are beautiful. and it is in their imperfection that God’s perfection is made known. so when we finally embrace our stories as our own, it is then that we can learn to live courageously. dangerously. lives full of forgiveness and grace.

with shauna’s words and pastor randy’s sermon to marinate in, i spent a good portion (well, when i wasn’t reading and finishing shauna’s third book bread & wine) of my flight home thinking about my story. of the ugly parts, in particular. the parts i am always hesitant to bring out into the light of day and most certainly, the parts that, if given a choice, i would gladly wipe clean from the slate. and i thought of every ounce of insecurity i harbor as a result of these parts, this shame and guilt i carry around like a backpack full of bricks.

but before i could spiral down into a dark place of self-pity and complimentary peanuts, i was reminded of the lasting lessons i gleaned from both shauna and randy’s sentiments. my imperfection makes room for His perfection. i can find freedom in my failure, for it is through this failure that my story shines truer with the footprints of God. 

so i’ve made a pact. to look at my story with fresh eyes. to no longer hide the scars of my past under bandaids of guilt and shame. rather, to find the courage to expose them in their rawest form, so that my story may be used to encourage others to do the same.

because at the end of the day, my story isn’t really my story at all. it’s His, manifested in me.

my life story

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