Talks Culture, Talks Home, Talks Relationships

The Purpose of Storytelling

When I began this blog I hadn’t a clue where it would lead

I knew that writing was something I might do well. I love sharing my opinions (no surprise) and social media had fast become the way we interacted. Sometimes I even enjoyed it. My house could be messy, I didn’t need makeup, bras were optional and yet I could have a meaningful discussion with someone who may or may not even be local.

So blogging, a way to have relationships without the duties of face to face stuff. This could be cool!

I don’t think I could have tried it when I was home with littles. Barney reruns, doctor appts, ear infections, diapers, laundry…how do these mommy blogs happen?! I know they’re a thing, but at that point in life all I wanted was to hit a park, or McDonalds, meet up with other stay at home moms and let the kids play while we yakked. Face to face relationships were crucial. I lived for the church nursery, free babysitting! I got to worship, hear a sermon and ignore the demands of motherhood for 90 minutes.

I have no shame or guilt about it today

In December of 2013, when I started blogging, we were still housing young adults who were finding their way in life. I was decompressing from an abusive work environment and Bruce was acclimating to a new job, 47 miles from our home in Fox River Grove. We had no church, most of my girlfriends were working, it was me and Tucker and Carolyn’s cat, Penny as daily companions. The Snowpocalypse hit and I didn’t mind living under the covers, writing and taking lots of naps. We joined the local YMCA and I started taking water aerobic classes and chair yoga.

In May of 2014, shortly after we’d settled into this new routine we were in a major car accident, derailing our lives for about a year. We’d tossed around the idea of moving closer to Bruce’s job, nudging young people out of the house and were even visiting churches in hopes of finding one. I even thought about starting a business.

Not anymore!

Now it was all about recovering. Surgery and PT for Bruce, chiro and a pain clinic for me. And even today the accident is the gift that keeps giving. In part it’s responsible for the back surgery I face this week.

But in January of 2015 we decided it was time to visit a church that had been on our list for a few years–Chicago Tabernacle. Unfortunately it was IN Chicago, imagine that. One visit and we were hooked. There was nothing like it in the suburbs, it called to us. We felt a hope and excitement we hadn’t known in a decade of church shopping. Even though it took our entire Sunday to attend, and caused severe physical pain–another gift from the accident–we went.

We even joined…

By now the young adults decided where/what they wanted to do and were making their way out of the house. It was 2015, we were on our own for the first time in 28 years. In essence we could move anywhere that allowed Bruce a reasonable commute. Our only hiccup was a financially underwater house. We explored all the possibilities up to and including a move to the city of Chicago.

And then, another job loss and the death of Bruce’s father

Once again, we were sidelined by life. While those things alone wouldn’t necessarily stop us, we felt a check to stay put and continue commuting to church. Bruce found a new and better job quickly, but it required a fair amount of travel and weekends were recovery time (contrary to his own views, he’s not as young as he once was). Attendance for us was spotty at times, community impossible.

Then came a wedding, requiring a house with a backyard. Once again a move into the city was shelved. Personally, I shelved it for good. I was invested in my area, had become attached to the life I’d carved out for myself in The Grove, and with Bruce’s travel schedule I wasn’t keen on abandoning it for a crowded, complicated, hectic, city life.

The wedding was wonderful, exactly what they wanted and our backyard never looked so good. Leaving all those memories now? As one of our friends said, “Just think, every time you look in that part of your yard you’ll remember where your husband danced with your daughter at her wedding”.

How to you leave that?

But we did. We left the burbs for Chicago. Through blogging, I’ve shared stories of our journey here and our participation in a cross cultural church community. I feel like they reflect the richness of God’s kingdom on earth. The very essence of what heaven might be like someday. I can’t imagine my life story without this adventure to Chicago.

There is an enormous push for women, to “tell their stories” or their “truth”. I spent this morning re-reading a lot of my old posts, reminding myself of my own story. As I said, I didn’t know where this would lead when it began, yet I never envisioned so much of my story told through this vehicle. It’s not a blockbuster or spectacular by today’s norms. It includes things like innocence, play, neighborhood fun, school stories, church, dating, romance, marriage, children, moving, houses, friends, family, pets, jobs, loss and pain. All the things that make up most everyone’s lives. Nothing outstanding. Because of God’s protective hand, even the parts that are hurtful aren’t as ugly as they could be.

I’ve heard and seen much worse

But it’s my story, however humble. Telling it over the years has given me a sense of myself that never existed before. Mining my past with all it’s various episodes of cluelessness, joys and hurts has been illuminating for me. It’s given me perspective during a period in my life when I had the time to pause and explore it. I hope it’s helped me to navigate it better, with grace and purpose.

I recently read “Educated” a memoir by a woman raised in a fundamentalist, survivalist, Mormon home in Idaho. She was never formally educated before age 17 when she entered BYU. Good book, couldn’t put it down. I don’t read a lot of memoirs but the ones I’ve read I’ve enjoyed. There is something about knowing a person’s story that adds to the collective story of humankind. Beginning with Adam, continuing to the end of days, other’s stories will always enrich our own.

As I continue this writing journey, I hope to tell both past and present stories. I pray they speak to anyone. In truth, by committing my life to Jesus, I’ve allowed God to write my life story. I’ve never been sorry. If there is anything I want people to take away it’s this;

He is faithful!

He has always been faithful, and I know he always will be. If there is anything we need as a culture it’s to trust in the faithfulness of God for his people. He loves us. Our lives are precious to him. If we let him he will gladly write and rewrite our stories. As I read “Educated”, I was astounded at the determination this woman had in creating a different outcome for her personal story. What she lacked was the comfort of a loving God who knew her before she was born and had a purpose for her life. Even the painful parts.

Because that’s the beauty of Christianity, it takes the awful, painful, ugly parts of our stories and makes them into beautiful, healed, purposeful parts of his story.

It gives me a great deal to be thankful for

 

 

 

 

 

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