Last week during the big winter storm, I left my house an hour before we were required to be at work. I navigated the ice encrusted streets, driving about 20 mph the whole way. I gripped the steering wheel with white knuckles and concentrated on the road conditions and the drivers around me to see when they might swerve. I made it to the parking lot and thought the worst was over.
That thought passed quickly when I stepped out of the car and lost my footing, despite wearing my man-like water boots. I stumbled and slid my way across the lot to a fence, gripping it like the banister around a roller rink. I treated passersby to free entertainment as I skated across the street with a look of fear emblazoned on my face.
Once inside the building, I couldn't stop talking and neither could anyone else. Everyone shared their stories about the daring drive in to work and the "almost" catastrophes of trying to walk on the ice.
Contrast these conversations with conversations on a non-winter-storm day. The scary and embarrassing parts of our lives remain hidden. We're not so quick to talk about what is really going on in our lives.
But I was reminded through our sermon today that living life in community is messy. It's dirty and painful to get involved in other people's lives. To listen to their hurts and struggles and to share your own. To trust others with your story.
But the truth is "our" stories aren't really ours to begin with. Yes, we are often the main actor/actress in our stories. But that doesn't make the story ours to keep. Our stories were meant to be shared. If you've gone through a difficult time and made it to the other side but shared the details with no one, how can others in a similar situation be encouraged? Similarly, if you've had something wonderful happen in your life but kept it a secret, how can others help you celebrate?
It's not easy because we don't practice this much. But the next time you are quick to share a story about something routine, think about another story that you might be willing to share. One that might have a positive, life-changing effect on someone. Be bold and share the latter.