Sunday, May 9, 2010

we are part of something larger

(This is the third and final post in a series about humanity and storytelling. If you haven't already, you might want to read the first and second posts.)

"We all feel the riddle of the earth without anyone to point it out. The mystery of life is the plainest part of it . . . . Every stone or flower is a hieroglyphic of which we have lost the key; with every step of our lives we enter into the middle of some story which we are certain to misunderstand."
-G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

I have always been drawn to books and words. As a kid in elementary school, I read anything and everything, from novels to the classics to random non-fiction. When I wasn't reading, I generally could be found staring into space while absentmindedly doing whatever it was that needed done. I wrote story after story in my head, and although I usually couldn't be bothered to sit down and write them, I remember most of them. At least, I remember the ones I remember. :) They were generally sweeping tales of world travel, self-sacrifice, adventure, and impossible deeds. I was always the main character. For weeks I was a pirate, another time I lived as a servant girl in a castle. I fought in wars, I lived with gypsies, I raised my siblings on my own because our parents had died. The stories could hardly be considered the most original, but they were my way of connecting with the world. Real life events tangled and rearranged themselves to fit my fictional world.

As a child, I never thought, "I wish I were part of a bigger story." Any "greater purpose" than what I knew day-to-day never really crossed my mind. At least, not consciously. It's easy, while young, to forget the world around and focus inward. Entering Real Life and taking on Responsibilities has a very disconcerting way by which to grab one's attention. Maybe you've felt it too: that longing for something deeper, for something more than life's monotony or roller-coaster-stress-ride. Something adventurous and wild and free and maybe just a little like your favorite books (or movies).

It wasn't until I really knew who God is and started learning more about Him (about two years ago) that I had that "Aha!" moment.
"In the beginning..." "Once upon a time..."
What d'ya know, we're about to hear a story. So begins God's story to us, written like a history book, or sometimes like a letter. Sometimes (like in Song of Solomon or Isaiah), I feel like I found an old photograph with a note written on the back. "I love you," or, "Please come back to me." The people of the Bible are like me, I notice. They get things wrong. They have triumphs, but people die. There are wars, there are famines, women lose their husbands, girls go to strange lands because their country holds nothing for them. It's so very real. Good, evil. Love, hate. Strength, weakness. Lost, found.

It seems that God loves stories. If, like it says in Genesis, we are made in His image, then shouldn't we also love stories? The answer is yes.
In a response to the second post, Firefly said,
"The Master Story Teller gave us the gift of creativity. Humans are meant to create.
Music, drawing, painting, writing, speaking, film, photography, needlework - all is in the fiber of our being."

It could end there. We could nod our heads in agreement or maybe shake our heads in disbelief, but that isn't the end. It couldn't be. We want to tell stories, hear them, share them, but we want to be in them. How awesome would it be to find ourselves and who we are on an adventure. To know that we are wanted and necessary for whatever quest. That's innate too.
What I want to say is, "You can! You are important; your being was created for a purpose and you need to stop focusing on yourself and realize the bigger story going on around you!!"
It sounds surreal, though. It sounds too good to be true.

Some might call me an escapist, or childish for trying to make up a story that will make me feel better. And two years ago, I would have agreed. Now, all I can do is show them what I know and point to the Bible. I know I live my life with purpose - a purpose not based around me and my short existence on this world, but a determination grounded in my knowledge of a Larger Story, and a trust that what I do here on Earth in love and kindness and peace is a contribution to the goal of helping others find life.

What story are you living? Will it die with you, or will you be able to pass your work down to others, affecting hearts and minds? And if you are part of God's Larger Story, are you sharing it? It isn't enough to live the Story, you must tell it, too. We all must share it.
We are part of something larger.

For more on this topic, I highly, highly recommend Epic by John Eldredge.

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Tiph used to be this weird hippie chick who sewed things and drank tea and rode bikes and wrote silly things. Then, college came along, and now she's this weird hippie chick with math in her brain and notebooks full of indefinite integrals. And hardly any time to write. This is her space. Thankfully, space is a vacuum and any complaints you may have cannot be heard.

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