My boys have gone a kick where they enjoy making books. They draw sequential pictures to their stories and occasionally add some words. Then they will assemble their books with a three-hole punch and three pieces of yarn.
Earlier today my son was sharing one of his books with me. I opened up what I assumed to be the cover and started to “read it.” He quickly corrects me flipping the book to the last page. “Mom that’s the end. Start here.”
Oh, my bad… I didn’t realize that I was starting at the end. Or that his book was assembled backwards. Nonetheless, I needed to read the book in “order.”
This got me thinking. How many times do I start in the wrong spot of a story?
It’s easy to walk in on someone else’s story and assume I know the beginning, middle or the end. I may have one important detail; therefore, I know everything… This couldn’t be further from the truth!
For people who “know” me, it’s easy to make assumptions about who I am. You may read my blog, follow me on Facebook, or watch my family while we’re out and about. Based on all these interactions you may assume you know me or know my character. I’ll be honest, you may make some pretty accurate assumptions. But I know you may give me too much credit… or possibly not enough…
Some people may know me from high school or college. These people have a part of the story but have missed chapters that have made me who I am today. These people have a piece of the story that some people I know today do not have. When I was younger, I was crazier. I was wild. I chased what the world had to offer. I did not really know God, and I definitely did not try to walk with Him.
Other people may not really know me, but they know someone who does know me. The stories they hear about me are filtered. Whether or not these people like me is completely dependent on the perspective of the person who claims to know me.
If I’m really honest, not many people have the full story of who I am. Parts of my story are purposely not told. Not because I do not trust you with it. Not because it is not important. But because some things have a time and place to be shared.
It does no good to share a sob story when everyone is celebrating life. It does no good to share my success while others are mourning. The Bible tells us to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who are mourning.
I think all too often people forget to realize that everyone has a story. Everyone experiences joys and disappointments. Just because someone responds, “I’m good,” doesn’t actually mean that’s how they are doing.
There are so many days that I do that. So many days I put on my Sunday best- including a smile, and walk into Church. These days can be crazy and hectic. But as I walk into church, no one knows the story of the morning.
Like last Sunday when I had to go to the grocery store before Church. I only had 3 items to check out- but they had to be purchased before leaving for church. I had these items in the cart and ready to check out in less than 5 minutes… But I got in line at 8:57… three minutes before Schnucks will sell alcohol. Guess what the four people in front of me were trying to purchase… beer, liquor, wine, and wine coolers. I guess the cashier decided to scan the alcohol before nine o’clock, so when the first person in line tried to pay, he was unable to do so. Instead of re-scanning the items, they decide to wait. Well, at 9:05… now 8 minutes after I had been standing in line… she calls a manager. This manger cannot figure out what’s going on. So more waiting. And more waiting. And finally the four people in front of me check out with their adult beverages. I can check out. But the cashier decides she needs to talk to the lady at the next counter about what just happened. Here I am- trying really hard to stay patient with my six children in and beside the cart. Knowing I have to be at church- 30 minutes away- in 40 minutes.
I am frustrated. I just want to leave. My time feels wasted. I feel rushed. But I am holding it all together. I turn on my Jesus Jams and head to church. As soon as I get to church, I start smiling at everyone and telling them I am good. I am good. I just had a rough morning. It’s part of the story that feels inappropriate to tell even my mother-in-law sitting beside me.
Every single person at church had a morning story. I bet some of them had a happy breakfast with their families. I’m sure someone overslept. I’m also positive someone else felt rushed. Me- I had a frustrating shopping trip.
We are all human. We all have stories that do not feel worthy of being shared. Share them anyways. Someone can relate. But more than that, we are the body of Christ. If I am feeling off, it is important to ask someone to pray for me. They don’t need all the details about why it was frustrating (we need to avoid gossiping and putting down others), but there really is something powerful about knowing you are not alone. What is even more powerful is inviting God our heavenly Father into the situation. He cares and wants to be apart of it, but God will not force His way into it. Invite Him in and watch what a difference it will make.
Remember we all struggle. We all fall short. We all have days where we feel like we are on top of the world, and then days where nothing seems to work in our favor. But as sisters and brothers in Christ, it is important to ask each other for prayer and support. We do no have to do life alone.
One of the most amazing realizations I had, was when my husband and I were sharing our early marriage struggles with another Christian couple. They laughed at each other and then said, “What do you think we used to do?” I don’t know what they did- I wasn’t there for that part of their story. But those few words lifted a burden off me. I wasn’t alone. We weren’t alone. They’ve been there. They got through it. We can get through it too.
So don’t judge someone based on the part of the story you know. But more than that, be willing to share parts of your story that may not be glamorous, so that others can see the hope you have in Christ! You never know how much a simple, “I’ve been there,” can change a person’s outlook.
“Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am.”