Every life has a story. Your story is hidden in your life. In every house, there are stories that go with that house. Some good, some not so good. But the stories of your life are what make you.
They build you.
Growing up for me meant growing up quickly to make sure everything and everyone was ok. I know, it screams the word codependency huh? My mom really struggled mentally. Back then highs and lows were not tagged or labeled with anything. We now know them as Bi-Polar.
It wasn’t easy, but to me, it’s all I knew. I knew how to calm my mom and reassure my Dad. Dad worked over the road and was gone a week at a time and would call to check in to see if everything was ok at home.
To add to the difficulty, my brother and mom had a tense relationship, so it only amplified the tension in our home.
I somehow decided if I could be a perfect kid and redeem the troubled waters hoping the atmosphere would be different. I was wrong. And I was exhausted with all that work at “being a good girl.”
I really was a good girl but the exhausting part came from trying continually and being enslaved to letting someone down. My people-pleasing started young. The pressure did not let up even into my adult years.
I was always preoccupied with disappointing someone about something. This was a hard road to travel on. Constantly in performance mode, my self-esteem plummeted even more.
This affected me, I had a lot of healing to go through but I could choose if I wanted some of these things to define my life. They played a part in my life, but they would not define me.
You and you alone determine the chapters you park on and stay with. I would love to set a match to some of mine but why?
What if we didn’t share the painful ones or the ones we regret. Who could we help?
We don’t have to live in the shame or pain of them but letting others see how God worked through them.
Inviting others into your story lets them know they are not alone in their story.
If I sit down to watch a movie it matters to me if it has a good ending. Life has lots of pain so I at least like my movies to end well.
We win in the end with God.. My thinking is He likes good endings too. Which is why we can’t hide the messy middle. The middle shows that we are all in process.
My experience with people over the years has let me know that every story doesn’t have a good ending. Not all of mine have and chances are not all of yours have.
Some have very painful endings. Endings of regret. Regrets that they wish they would have said, I am second. Not first. Not all consumed with self-centered thinking. Self-serving agendas.
We always have the opportunity to observe the stories of others and what they have gone through. Do they have peace? Do they have good relationships? Or, do they have a wake of brokenness behind them or around them. Do they have a teachable heart and attitude about life?
It is nearly impossible to have a relationship with someone that is all consumed with themselves because there will be no room for you.
Mary, Joseph and Jesus
I think about Jesus as a baby and there was no room for him in the Inn. Just a manger dropped in the dirt, surrounded by dust…
Mary and Joseph didn’t let their situation determine their destination. It was what it was and they would grow through it and go through it.
They were viewed just as regular people that screamed normalcy. Who knew Mary was carrying God besides her and Joseph?
So many times, we want our story to be different so we can look different to a watching world. We want a cleaned-up version.
The version where they can call “cut” in-between scenes and the hair and makeup people can come in and dab the sweat off our brows, re-fluff that hair so we are “camera ready.”
This is not what happens when we move from scene to scene through the stories of our lives.
Sometimes, it’s a bloody scene. Sometimes, it’s a scene of failure. Sometimes a scene of success that only you and God sees. Sometimes it’s a repentant scene that causes you to bawl your eyes out and your heart is cleansed making it possible to see and hear again.
The Biblical Story
The disciples were put on display as they struggled, failed, and succeeded. As they exercised their faith privately, God grew them publicly.
God never minimized their weaknesses, in fact, it’s as if He platformed it, then his power could be seen.
Their story was how God loves to choose the uneducated, unlikely, weak individuals to get a front-row seat with Jesus.
They also would be attempting to keep their heart soft as they learned. And there would be none of this calling fire down from heaven to make a point. Jesus said, put your trigger guns away boys. My spirit is different and we will have none of that.
Jesus taught them the same principles over and over again because they couldn’t “get it.”
He waited for the eureka moment, The Aha moment, the moment their faith catapulted them to understanding the kingdom. They struggled, over and over again.
There, right in front of them again, another ministry need arises. These people following are starving and Phillip sees the impossibilities of feeding the thousands of people in front of them. Andrew suggests a little boy who has a bag of lunch.
The Boy with the Lunch Bag
Here is my version of how it went down.
To teach them, Jesus brings a little snot-nosed boy on the scene who has a crumpled brown bag. Just walking along minding his own business He sees Jesus ( my paraphrasing of this story)
He wonders if He’s hungry, so He opens the brown crumpled bag because Jesus says, I’ve got a lot of people to feed. Like thousands.
The little boy just starts digging to the bottom of that bag and without a second thought, He offers up the couple of fish he has and a loaf of bread to Jesus.
Surrendering all he has, he offers it, not considering the amount he has but what the need is. He sees that He might be able to help some, so he does. Not overthinking it, He just offers up the goods.
His selflessness and willingness to just offer what He has speaks volumes. It’s not how much you have but more so what you are willing to give. What you are willing to sacrifice.
The little boy with the crumpled bag is an “other-minded” person. Others mattered. Fish and loaves mattered. Sacrifices stick.
Surrendered lunches multiply. They may not seem like much, but when they are given in love, they feed people. Lots and lots of people. They give people tanks full of hope.
Lessons you were taught through the story of your broken life may seem like a small thing. When they are given back in love God multiplies them to help others, they feed a soul. To give them hope again when they are less than hopeful.
What if you offered your crumple brown bag and stopped getting preoccupied with what it had in it?
What if that squished up sandwich looked like your story? It’s ok because God isn’t looking at your gory, he took all of that and now he is wanting to reflect His glory through it.
What if God took it and could transform others with something that came out of a brown crumpled bag?
This is the humble approach that turns the head of God…
Here it is God. It’s just a mess inside this crumpled bag but I will give it to you. I will trust you with the story that comes out of this bag.
Just maybe, you will take it and give someone a bite to sustain them in their famished state.
Maybe it will help someone to swallow hard and offer the story of their life to help feed a hungry soul.