Finding myself in the Middle of a Story

Finding myself in the Middle of a Story

This woman is such a blessing to her husband, children, grandchildren and the community around her! Donna pours forth spiritual wisdom when she speaks and writes and has made it her way of life to be on call for God to use her however He sees fit. Saying yes to this call, Donna has impacted so many lives! This year she is on the Curriculum Team helping shape and form the content and “collisions” for each of our Collide events, as well as helping build our Next step classes. She is also meeting with every mentor and mentor to get to know them personally so she can connect them with the right fit. We often have so many young women requesting to be mentored and Donna is making it her aim to connect them with older women who can walk alongside them. This just melts my heart as I see such beautiful relationships beginning to take shape! She is a wise one, counselor, author, minister, mentor, and sojourner. You should read anything Donna writes! Enjoy! – Willow

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My story is that I am surprised I have one. When I came into the world over seventy years ago, life was not about story…it was about living up to a standard. As the oldest of several, my parents reminded me often, “You must be a good example for the rest of the children.” Parenting is like that…full of hopes to encourage unscarred lives.

 As a member of a Christian family, school, and church, my upbringing was about learning to ‘get it right.’ I memorized scripture, creeds, catechism, and doctrine to get truth into my head. I tried to be obedient to the moral code of the Ten Commandments and follow the example of the biblical heroes of faith. I aspired to becoming a good Christian woman and thought I had the blueprint to build that kind of life.

At one point, however, I remember longing that my life would be a dramatic testimony, the kind of story that would inspire others to give their lives to Jesus because it had such a memorable before-and-after piece to it…(like once I was addicted and now I am free…)

“What do you mean you don’t have a story?” a just-new Christian asked me.

“All I can say is that my life is, well,..stable,” I said after deleting the adjective ‘boring’ in my mind.

“Stable!!” she literally shouted back at me. “Do you know how many people would give almost anything to say “stable” about their lives?!?” I felt reprimanded, but unconvinced that I had a story worth embracing.

So I remained in my familiar head-knowledge, goal-oriented world where I expected a nearly perfect marriage, children, career, and spiritual walk…if I would but follow the formulas taught in my youth. Family and Christian community had done (and are still doing) their level best to teach and train me from the outside. But my heart was un-done. That would take Spirit work from the inside.

Here’s the deal. God never meant our lives to be standardized or lived by rote. So at several points along the way, He gave me reality checks to startle me with messages that I was not the one in control or the one making things happen or the one getting it right.

God’s sometimes difficult love lessons were not on my expectation list. Who writes early deaths or decision failures, betrayals or regrets, or just plain misery into their ideal life? Who is not just a little surprised that their children’s DNAs are so complicated that they are sometimes totally unfamiliar, that their spouse does not march to the same beat as one’s own personal drummer, that there is very little one has control over, or that the guilt of never being, doing, giving, or having enough has an ever-present quality to it?

God moved me into meltdowns of the best kind. He turned everything that was in my head upside down, heated it up with an almost unbearable intensity, and changed it from unbending brittleness to a liquid that made it’s way down to my heart. He showed me love. And, instead of just living by the rules, I found myself in the middle of a story. A love story.

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Now that I, too, have my own story, this is what I know in a much deeper way:

  • That every story has relationships at its core, not just concepts. Someone has said that God loved stories so much that He made people. Without God or people there would simply be no story.

  • That every really great story has love in it. There is a reason the good news of the gospel is called ‘the greatest story ever told’.

  • When I view the Bible as story rather than a book of required beliefs, I can better see what God has in mind for me, and the whole of history, for that matter. As I intermingle with the real characters He has included there, identify with their struggles and joys, see where author-God takes them, I begin to understand His overarching narrative of salvation for myself and others.

  • That with grace (undeserved and unearned) the whole Trinity takes me in and loves me. This is a heart-thing, the most crucial part of my story.

  • That God writes our stories in an all-inclusive way. He creatively uses every part of our story from birth through death to fit into His positive purposes, moving our biographies from brokenness to wholeheartedness.

  • That stories get really interesting if there are several generations involved.

What I appreciate most about my seven-decade story these days is that God has not stopped intersecting mine with the fascinating stories of others, with those in other generations and other cultures. Life takes on an adventurous tone…and a communal one. My calling is to be “on call.” Who will be my next “divine encounter?” What will we learn together about love? Where is God at work in her story? How has He helped the person sitting across from me reframe the tough stuff of her story into something redemptive?

Recently my grandchildren brought me unexpected God-messages that went into a book called Out of the Mouths of Grandbabes. On a medical mission a few months ago, my husband and I felt the pain and the healing hope of people in Haiti. And now Collide has been a place to meet those younger (and oftentimes wiser) than myself. The theme of brokenness runs through all of our lives. So does the possibility of having an encounter with Jesus, a gentle love collision with a powerful impact. Ahhh, the stories yet to come… IMG_0261

  • Donna wrote this fabulous book called Out of the Mouths of Grandbabes and you can get yourself a copy or buy it for someone special this Christmas!
  • If you live locally in Whatcom County and are interested in taking Donna’s Next step class called “Reframing Your Story” check it out and register here.
  • If you are interested in having a spiritual mentor or interested in mentoring, email us here.

 

 

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1 Comment

  • Matt says:

    Donna, Donna, Donna,

    Your words ring in my ear, “the story is not finished”. Thank you for reminding us over and over again to see today as a page in the book, not the back cover. Thanks for the joy of letting me be a part of a few pages of your story and thank you so much for writing on the pages of mine!!