My Booty, Sparkly TOMS, and Whining: A Story of Telling

So I got this hair brained idea to run/walk to one of my girlfriend’s birthday party yesterday. Now the reason why this is a crazy idea is because I have not been running and she lives about 4 miles away. I was motivated in part because a girlfriend asked me to train for a half marathon that is scheduled in late November and as soon as I got her email, I literally went and put running shoes on, got my 8 year old daughter on her 5 year old size pink bike and headed out the door. Bella let me know right away that she did not want to do this. She wanted to bring her Nerds candy. I said “You can’t bring your Nerds candy. Leave it at home.” She wanted to walk. I said “You can run or you can bike, what do you choose?” She was whining, “Let’s just drive.” In all this back and forth, I said “Bella, let’s be tough! We can do this!” (I didn’t think we could do it either.)

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We walked down our driveway and she was wearing a plaid skirt and sparkly Toms. I mean how unused to doing this, are we? We looked like
pansies. But we were doing it and I knew it could go sour quick. She could brake too hard on the gravel and get bloody knees. She could just wimp out in the middle of the trail and refuse to move.  I could have a heart attack mile 2 or have to go number 2, which might be even worse. And it looked pretty likely that any of those options could happen because Bella literally complained and whined for the first 15 minutes of the journey. “How long will it take? Why do we have to? I don’t like riding on gravel. I’m hot. My legs are tired from swimming.” …I finally broke.

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Here I am a woman nearly turning 40, overweight, out on a hot day trying to get off the couch and reach 3 miles so that I can even qualify for training for a half marathon and my youthful daughter who does cartwheels to get everywhere is complaining about riding a bike while looking like a GAP model. I didn’t want to go on a 4 mile run. Everything in me wanted to turn back and get in a cute dress, do my hair and makeup and show up to the party looking fresh with a present in my hand. Bella was right, we should turn back, I thought. But for some reason something in me felt fierce and I was willing to push through her complaints. So I broke and had a mom moment: “You can choose to be positive or you can choose to complain the whole time and ruin the journey, but either way we are going! We are doing this. We are going to prove we can. If I were you I would choose to be positive.  I am from here on out going to ignore your negativity. I f you say anything negative I am going to ignore you. Instead, why don’t you talk positively. You can say ‘oh mom, look at the beautiful sunshine or see the pretty bird….or mom tell me about when you rode bikes as a kid…’”

I know none of what I said was out of the box or all that wise, but it’s all that I could come up with in the sweat and the mental ‘I can’t keep goings.’ Immediately Bella said, “Tell me about when you rode bikes as a kid.” Immediately, I thought, ‘why did I give that example?’ I can’t remember a darn thing. I think I have early Alzheimers. Then I remembered a story…. so I told her in between panting to keep up with her lil’ bike.

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I told her the story about when I was five and I was hanging out with one of my best friends, Burt. I called him Burt the Squirt. I still didn’t know how to ride a bike and so Burt was holding onto my bike and pushing me, but I was very unstable and the bike felt rickety like it could fall over at any point if he were to let go. But at some point, Burt decided to let go and I kept going. I told Bella, I remember just pedaling and being surprised that the bike worked and I didn’t crash. I was so excited, I said “Burt the Squirt! Let’s go get French fries at my mom’s café to celebrate!”  And off we went, biking to the Roslyn café I lived in, to have a celebratory snack.

As Bella was traveling fast now and way ahead of me, she yelled out from underneath her bike helmet, “Tell me another story mom!”  I said “Wait until I catch up to you so I don’t have to yell!”  She slowed down. I told her I couldn’t remember any more stories. She said, “Tell me that one you told me before- the one about that other kids bike.” I knew which one she meant. So I retold her about how I went to the city park and was playing with some kids while my mom was at work. I saw this kid named Robert and I asked him if I could use his bike. He said no. I think I was super jealous he had a bike because as per my usual, I had left my bike somewhere in town and had no idea where I left it, so I was out a bike. Robert said no, but I heard yes. I mean I didn’t actually hear yes, but I told myself to take the bike. So I took the bike and rode all the way across the park from the tennis courts to the swings set. And there I was swinging when my mom walked up to the park in her white apron from cooking at the Café just to visit and check in with me. As we swang, side by side, she asked where I got the bike. I told her Robert let me use it. ( Here I was telling Bella I lied to my mom. I am hoping as I story tell, this doesn’t backfire!) Right when I told my mom this lie, Robert runs across the park yelling for his bike and I was busted! Mom sent me to sit upstairs in the café and “think about it.” Sitting in a room by myself was pure torture in light of who God made me and “thinking about it” was even worse. What does thinking about it do? It lets you sit in your guilt. “Ooooooh”, I told Bella I learned my lesson that day. When you lie to someone, they don’t trust your words. And if you don’t have trust in a relationship, you don’t have a relationship.

I stopped and suggested she push her bike a little.  The stories continued…Then we went full speed again, our full speed. We had been going for over thirty minutes and I realized that Bella hadn’t complained for miles. I hadn’t heard one negative thought or whiny “I don’t want to” and she was cruisin’ stylishly! I yelled ahead toward her, “Bella, how did you kick that negativity?” She yelled forward as if her words would boomerang back. I heard loudly, “haikjdshi uydfas hfb aszldfh jawse!”  I yelled, “What? I can’t hear you!” Breath. Pant. Wiping sweat from brow. “Howwww didddd youuuuu kickkkkk that negativityyyyyy?”

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She said “You told me stories.”

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You told me stories. Fascinating. The rest of the run, I thought about that statement. Boy is she wise! Telling stories kicks negativity!   When I am being negative, the last thing I think to do is listen to someone tell me stories. Instead, I think of how I am going to get out of what I don’t want to endure or experience. And when getting out of something is not an option I am left with more reasons to complain. So my negativity either lands me as a quitter or more negative. Neither of which, help me get where I want to go nor make me who I want to be.

And here my daughter taught me, when you have a long journey ahead of you and you don’t know how you are going to make it that far and then someone shares story with you- it just helps you get further down the road. When you know you have distance and miles ahead and there is someone to share tales of pushing through and being able to celebrate, you see that that might be possible for you too. When you have to do something you absolutely hate doing and you engage in story, the thing you are doing takes a back seat while the story takes a front seat. Story has power and I think that is why Psalm 107 says “Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story.” The Psalm then goes to touch on the crazy adventures, long journey, and scary gravel roads God’s people traveled and yet their determination proved victory, their sweat was worth it, and their pain turned to strength.  ( I really encourage you to read it and I will too.) This Psalm reminds us to tell our stories and says “Let the one who is wise heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the LORD.”  Those of us who heed another’s story are wise. We are wise because we learn from other’s journey and so see the love of God that shows up in ordinary and extraordinary moments in life. And sometimes we forget He will show up and instead we start thinking we aren’t going to make it. We aren’t going to be able to finish. We aren’t going to be rescued. We are going to have success or victory. We aren’t going to get where we want to go. And we keep thinking these things until we listen to someone tell stories. And then we are reminded that God moves through trial, obstacles and the impossible to tell otherwise.

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As you go, tell story to one another. Tell story and ask for it. I think we have lost the art of asking people to share story. This past week I actually asked an older woman to meet with me and as I was struggling with something, I asked her to tell me story of what she has experienced. Just listening to her journey and tales helped me in mine. So, try finding yourself saying “tell me about…” more often and just those two words will shape your outlook in the right direction.  Or get off the couch and attempt something you don’t want to do because you really do want to and as you do, engage in story. When all you can think to do is complain with your mouth, instead listen with your ear. Ask each other to tell story. The adventure, mystery, lessons, romance, drama and journey of others just might be what you need to kick the negativity that keeps your sparkle shoes at the mall and your booty on the couch.

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May you journey whatever trail lies before you, together sharing story…. It is then that you will be reminded, God will meet you on this road….

 

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