Own and Embrace Your Story

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it.

Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy–the experiences that make us the most vulnerable.

Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

-Brene Brown

An Old Fable About The Sun and The Wind

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One day, the Sun and the Wind quarreled about which was the strongest and the Wind said, “I’ll prove that I am. See that old man down there with the coat? I bet I can get his coat off quicker than you can.”

So the Sun went behind a cloud, and the Wind blew until it was almost a tornado. But the harder it blew, the tighter the old man clutched his coat. Finally, the Wind calmed down and gave up.

Then the Sun came out from behind the clouds and smiled kindly on the old man. Presently, he mopped his brow and pulled off his coat. The Sun then told the Wind that gentleness and friendliness are always stronger than fury and force.

The end.

Speak a Better Story

“We live in a world where bad stories are told, stories that teach us life doesn’t mean anything and that humanity has no great purpose. It’s a good calling, then, to speak a better story. How brightly a better story shines. How easily the world looks to it in wonder. How grateful we are to hear these stories, and how happy it makes us to repeat them.” – Donald Miller

An Amazing Story of Facebook and God Colliding

This past weekend, I received an amazing message from my 10th grade History teacher. I hadn’t spoken to him in almost ten years when he reached out to me on Facebook this past weekend. See his message below.

I remember years ago, being in his class and feeling called to write him a note of encouragement. I never heard from him about the note that year, so I assumed it didn’t mean much to him and frankly, as time went on, I forgot about it. Little did I know, God had plans for this note that were far greater than I could have hoped at the time.

This is an amazing testimony to why we must answer God’s calling at the moment we hear it, whether or not we can foresee any positive results. His timing is perfect!

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Here was my response…

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Just Know That You Are Loved – My Personal Encounter with an Angel

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Two years ago today, on the worst day of my life, I had my first encounter with an angel, at the baggage claim of the RDU airport.

I stood alone, completely wiped out and broken, waiting for my bag to come around on the conveyor belt. There were a few other people waiting for their bags there as well, not many but a few. After about two minutes, my feet could no longer support the dead weight of my body and I sat down on a nearby bench. A young man, I’d guess my age or younger, came and sat down next to me.

“Excuse me,” he interrupted my empty, swollen stare, “Are you okay?” Hardly able to even turn to face him, I nod my head and mutter back, “Yea I’m fine.” My body language was screaming, “LEAVE ME ALONE!!!!” but he persisted. “It isn’t a death, is it?”

“No,” I snap back, justifying my lie with his increasingly annoying invasiveness.

“Okay, well I just wanted to say, I was in love with this girl for many years and we were happily together. I wanted to be engaged and when I asked her to marry me, she said ‘no’ and we broke up. I know it’s not the same…” he continued, despite my lack of response cues, “…but it hurt like hell.”

I managed to look him dead in the eyes this time, “It’s not the same,” I growled, my eyes piercing into him.

Looking forward, I spotted my large, brown, leather suitcase coming around the belt. One of the only ones left. I began to stand up and head towards my bag when the guy said, “Well, here,” as he handed me a 2-dollar bill, “just know that you are loved.”

I hadn’t intended to take the 2-dollar bill but there it was in my hand as I grabbed my bag from the conveyor belt. Dropping the heavy piece of luggage to the ground, I looked up to see my mom running towards me. I gave her a huge hug, momentarily allowing myself to collapse in her arms.

But wait, I wondered aloud, “Where did that guy go?”

“What guy?” my mom replied.

“The guy who just handed me this,” I waved the 2-dollar bill for her to see.

“I didn’t see any guys around, Sweetie. I saw you standing here by yourself. That’s why I came running over.”

In bewilderment, mixed with the still heavy shock of the day’s event, I stumbled towards my mom’s car, “Hmm…” I thought to myself, “Well, that was strange.”

Two years ago today, I lost my best friend in a tragic accident. He wasn’t far from me that day and he’s still as close as ever now.

My angel, I miss you.

A Story of Redemption and Experiencing God’s Grace

Redemption

 

1 Peter 5:10 “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”

I have suffered for a while. These past two years have been the most difficult times of my life, with one thing piling upon another. I wondered when I would see the light. But perhaps most importantly, I never doubted that this light would come. I never doubted God’s love for me and His goodness. I knew He had a plan and purpose for everything that was/is happening to me and I never stopped trusting Him. Probably clinging to Him tighter now, than ever before. Exactly, how He likes it- completely, wholly, even desperately dependent on Him.

This is a story about my restoration, about the light returning to my life. It is a joyful story and certainly not a complete one. But more importantly, this is a story about God and His grace, which never fails.

It was the Thursday night before I was scheduled to film my debut music video that Saturday. After a frustrating week of nagging my producer for details with no feedback, I was having a breakdown. I was furious. The shoot was Saturday and I had planned my whole week around it. The producer wasn’t holding up his end of the bargain. Where were the location lists, call times, wardrobe, crew names ect? Even if he sent me this information on Friday, I didn’t feel that one day was sufficient time for me to prep. I wanted to call him and scream at him! But can I? Is it right for me to bring my emotions into a work relationship? How much power and say do I really have in the matter? If I tell him how I feel, what will be his reaction? Will it change anything about the situation? Would it be worth it? If I don’t tell him how I feel, am I disrespecting myself? My feelings? Am I undermining our relationship and the honest, open communication that forms its base? These were all questions that were tormenting me that Thursday night. I struggled with them even as I fell asleep. I don’t like confrontation. I don’t want to confront him.

Friday morning, I had a meeting with my therapist. As usual, she asks me if there’s anything I want to talk about. I couldn’t think of anything “serious” that I felt I needed to talk to her about but because this music video situation was still on the forefront of my mind, I decided to give her a briefing of it. I figured at the least, she would be a good ear for me to get it off my chest. Maybe she would have some good advice on it, too. Boy, did I underestimate how God planned to use this frustrating situation and my time with the therapist that morning to work in miraculous ways.

Long story short, the therapist and I spend the hour “working” on the situation. We end up clarifying and defining my fear of confrontation as the root for why this situation was causing me such distress. Further, we even pinpointed specific events from my years in elementary school as stems for this irrational fear, which all revolve around my being unjustly shamed.

My fear, then, was not just a fear of confrontation, though it was that too. It was more a fear of being shamed. A fear of people making a big deal out of something in response to my actions. All it took was my pinpointing this fear, defining it, finding the cause of it, and rectifying that event within myself.

Before I knew it, the fear and anxiety was gone. By the time the session ended, I was no longer tormented with questions of what to do in response to my producer’s lack of follow through. I was eager to call him! Not to yell or vent but simply to talk about the next steps. It is what it is, I thought. And this is no confrontation. He and I will work this out and I’m excited to see when we can reschedule and start preparing for the new shoot date. Done and done. No anxiety. No fear. Suddenly, it wasn’t a big deal at all anymore. It was almost laughable that I let it torment me to begin with… It was never that big of a situation that I should lose sleep over it.

A huge weight was lifted from within me that Friday. Surely a day I will always remember and a blessing for which I’m indescribably grateful. The very thing I perceived as a mess the night before, had suddenly become a treasure to me, because it helped me to grow and to heal a part of me that had been carrying this burden of shame deep inside. Is God amazing or what?!

I share this story today in hopes that one of you, my readers, will relate to it. If you are feeling frustrated, anxious, or scared, I urge you to seek the cause behind those feelings within yourself. Everything you need to move forward awaits inside of you. God will take care of the details.

To the writers…

A story well told can put you in rooms never occupied.

One of My favorite Passages…

“And so my prayer is that your story will have involved some leaving and some coming home, some summer and some winter, some roses blooming out like children in a play. My hope is your story will be about changing, about getting something beautiful born inside of you about learning to love a woman or a man, about learning to love a child, about moving yourself around water, around mountains, around friends, about learning to love others more than we love ourselves, about learning oneness as a way of understanding God. We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting and the climax and the resolution. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn’t it?

It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out.

I want to repeat one word for you:
Leave.

Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word, isn’t it? So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don’t worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed.”
― Donald Miller

An Encounter at Starbucks

This morning I went to a Starbucks drive thru. When I got to the window to pay, I recognized the woman by the register. Usually a cheerful lady, today she seemed down. I asked her how her day was going. “You don’t seem your usual chipper self,” I said. She went on to tell me how yesterday she was in the hospital for a sinus infection and she’s still feeling a bit in the dumps. I expressed empathy, “Sinus infections are the worst. I hope you feel better soon,” and handed her my money. She gave it back and replied with a smile, “Your drink’s on me today.”

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The point is, kindness begets further kindness. And you never know how a simple expression of care might affect someone on any given day. My day was made too. An exchange of kindness between two people is priceless.