I love hearing people’s stories. I love the whole art of storytelling. I grew up not far from the national center for storytelling, and each fall we would field trip it down for their big festival during school. We would sit in big canopied tents, or on tree stumps and hear these vivid tales of long ago spirits and families.
I knew most of it was fiction, but as I grew older I found that the stories of people’s actual lives truly enthralled me. As much as I love to talk, I love to listen because you find out about a person by the stories they share.
But some people wish their stories were different…that parts of their past would just not have happened or that it wasn’t theirs to own. I have thought much on this recently as my own story found itself being written in a way I truly did not ever think it would be. While I have had to truly work and pray through the story as I write with God’s hands on the pen, I am not hating the story I have in me.
I wondered as I thought on the whole topic of your story if Paul hated part of his story (I told y’all I am a Paul girl). The very thing he was killing over was the very thing he became. He was hunting the person whom he would be known thousands of years later for being-a Christian. It’s a redemptive story, and one we love to share in church and small groups.
It’s easy to see the redemption of it years later, how God wove part of his past into his work for the kingdom. But maybe that’s hard for you to see today, as the story is just getting written. Or maybe it has been years later and you don’t like to talk about that part of your story because of the shame you think it will bring back, or it will change how people see you.
I cannot guarantee that won’t happen, because we are human…and like it or not, we judge when we shouldn’t. It’s a product of our sin-nature and one that we constantly struggle and strain against in moments throughout the day.
In 1 Corinthians 15 we see Paul point to something pretty spectacular about his story that he could very easily have hated…don’t miss it:
For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by God’s grace I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not ineffective. However, I worked more than any of them, yet not I, but God’s grace that was with me. Therefore, whether it is I or they, so we proclaim and so you have believed.
It’s God’s grace that brings our story into light…that turns the shame into joy, the guilt into freedom. Hating part of your story is a sure fire way of missing out on God’s grace to use it for another. It isn’t our story but His that He is continuing to write.
While parts are still being edited and reworked in my story, I don’t want to hate what He is doing and miss getting to proclaim the work He has done. Ultimately He pens the book of my life if I allow Him, and choosing to hate or erase a part that brought me to His mercy, love and freedom would be to hide the very characteristics He authored in me.