You are Made of Stories

1077691_68991810Michael Gungor, a singer / songwriter in the band Gungor, says this:

More than skin, and bone, muscle and tendon – you are made of stories. 

And I think that is true. We all have stories that make up who we are. We all have experiences, encounters, and narratives that not only shape who we are, but often define who we are. You are made of stories and so are those around you.

Some of us are made up of difficult stories, stories of pain, hurt, and abuse. Some of us are made up of stories of love, grace, and forgiveness. The point though isn’t to live a life, or a story, without pain or conflict. The point is to live a life that isn’t controlled by pain, fear, or conflict. To live a life, and share a story, that is about something bigger and better. To live a life that joins in the story that God is telling.

There is this really beautiful spiritual practice of reflection. In it you look back over your life, the stories and encounters you’ve had that really impacted you. You can plot them on a paper, as highs or lows, and reflect on the major turning point in your life.

And once you’ve done this you look over your story. The highs and lows,t he good times and difficult. The stories and encounters that build you – who you are. And you ask yourself two simple questions:

  • Where was God moving in those times?
  • And where is God leading today? 

It’s amazing how as you reflect and look back you can see God moving in your life. And as you see where he did move, you can get a sense for where he might be moving you.

So my simple little challenge today is this.: that you are made of stories, and that you look back on the story of your life. And as you look, and remember, pay attention for God. Look and see how he was moving in this moment, and that moment. And look for where he might be moving.

Because Michale Gungor is right, and as you do this you ask a simple question: where has God been leading?

The question really is what stories: More than skin, and bone, muscle and tendon – you are made of stories. And the question is where is your story leading? Is it joining a bigger story – God’s story? We all have good and bad encounters but none of that needs to control our story or destiny. Because here is the beautiful thing: your story isn’t over yet. So live it well.

Lenten Reflections: Stations of the Cross, 14

Station 14: Jesus Body is Laid in the Tomb

Written Reflection:

The body of Jesus is taken to its resting place. At the very moment when he seems furthest from glory, when life seems darkest, hope is closest. Cold stone surrounds and imprisons his dead body. But we know that nothing can hold Jesus’ power of life over death. Reflect on how at the darkest moment life was closest to bursting forth. And if there is any difficulties in your life remember in this moment that life is never far away

Lenten Reflections: Station 13

Station 13: Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross

Written Reflection:

The body of Jesus is taken to its resting place. At the very moment when he seems furthest from glory, when life seems darkest, hope is closest. Cold stone surrounds and imprisons his dead body. But we know that nothing can hold Jesus’ power of life over death. Reflect on how at the darkest moment life was closest to bursting forth. And if there is any difficulties in your life remember in this moment that life is never far away

Lenten Reflections: Stations of the Cross, Station 11

Station 11: Jesus is Nailed to the Cross

Written Reflection:

Spikes are nailed into Jesus hands and feet. Flesh is torn, blood is seen, and pain is felt. With each nail waves of pain come over Jesus. This is a God who feels. This is a God who suffers. This is not a God removed from the world, but one that enters into it for you and for me. Can there be any pain and agony our Jesus would not understand? Spend time with Jesus today sharing your hurts, your wounds, your struggles because our God knows what it is like to go through pain. Share you struggles and let Jesus uplift you today

Lenten Reflections: Stations of the Cross, Station 10

Station 10: Jesus is Stripped of his Garments

Written Reflection:

Jesus is now stripped for his garments. He is now totally open, vulnerable, able to feel the shameful looks and angry stares of the crowd. As the soldiers rip off his garments it opens the poorly closed wounds and fresh blood is seen.

Jesus stands naked, bloody, as people jeer at him. He is completely defenseless before them, as a lamb led towards the slaughter. And as the people look at him, Jesus looks to heaven. Picture the anger of crowd, the condemnation, the pride, and the arrogance. Take a moment and confess when you too have looked down at someone. Confess to Jesus moments when you have been like that crowd, and receive his forgiveness

Lenten Reflections: Stations of the Cross, Station 4

Here is the fourth station of the cross reflection where Jesus meets his mother…

Written Reflection:

Jesus continues to carry his cross, and as he does he meets his mother. This is the one who has since the beginning treasured each moment with her son. Except that this isn’t a moment to be treasured.

There eyes connect and their pain meet. Think about how Jesus trust in God’s plan allows him to move forward. Think about how Mary’s trust in God must be challenged and how difficult it must be.

Walking through sorrow challenges trust. So today ask Jesus to strengthen your trust. He never gave up his trust in God the Father. Ask him to give you trust even in the darkness…

The Long View

In my office I have a picture of early Toronto hanging. It’s probably 3 feet by 5 feet. It’s a really cool piece, that was my dad’s. Here’s a picture of it.

But if you look closely you’ll see how lots is similar to today, but lots have changed. City Hall’s still there, but there is no CN tower. There are fewer skyscrapers, and no Air Canada Centre. Lots have changed, or to put it better there has been lots of growth in Toronto’s core.

Pictures take a moment and freeze it so you can see what was happening in that specific moment. I sometimes wonder if you could take a picture of my life today what it would show. Or better yet if you were to have taken a picture of my life 5 years ago, capturing all my thoughts, dreams, fears, and desires, what would have grown and changed since then?

That picture of Toronto catches not only where it was, but serves to function as a grounding for seeing growth.

We can do the same sort of thing in our life. Either through journaling, practicing the Ignatian Examen, or simply pausing and reflecting we can discover the growth and change in our own lives. Life slips by quickly, but at a steady pace, that we often miss the changes that have happened over time. We might not notice how dramatically we’ve changed, how God has been faithful, how he’s been focusing on certain parts of our lives. So I’d challenge you take the long view of your life. Sit, grab a coffee, and look back to see where you’ve come. Celebrate the changes, and let go of the mistakes.

And take a picture of your life where it is now. Journal where you’re at, make a short video sharing your space, or simply tell a close friend. And then in a year review it, look at how you’ve grown, and where you changed.

Make a practice of looking back so you can see where you’re going…