As a writer, I obviously appreciate a good story.
But stories have resonated with me since before I even learned how to put pen to paper and create something.
A friend and fellow writer told me recently that I had a “storytelling style”. I found that to be incredibly complimentary.
Some of my favorite books are biographies or memoirs. I love reading Humans of New York. I enjoy reading about the “Student of the Week” in our local newspaper.
We all have stories, and our lives are all interesting in one way or another.
During Lent, the Episcopal church’s Gospel readings focus on the ministry and stories of Jesus. His journey leading up to the crucifixion.
And all of us, our stories are leading up to something.
The end result will be whatever we have made of our story up to that point. We are told to not worry about material things, but things of eternal quality.
Reagan asked me a series of 50 questions last night she found on the internet. Things like “use one word to describe yourself”. I answered and then, after some of the questions, she would give me the answer that she thought of about me.
It’s a little scary for your child to do this. Especially when one is as bluntly honest as mine can be.
But the one word she used to describe me was, “empowering”.
I heard another woman say this week that her legacy would be her children.
And that’s kind of what I think we all want, deep down, to know that our lives matter. That they make a difference.
Since Lent is a time of reflection and introspection, I find myself returning to the idea of peoples’ lives as stories.
My favorite books, TV shows and movies all show the domino effect of how each individual life impacts another. I think it’s a beautiful and amazing thing to see stories intersect and connect and influence each other in this journey we call life.
One of her other questions was, “What do you want to be remembered for?”
My answer was simple, “Kindness.”
I want people to remember me as someone who listened, and tried to understand. Someone who stood up for love and empathy, and tried to be the change she wanted to see in a world of division, and hate, and people who just want to know they matter.
I want them to feel as though they mattered, even if only to me.
So, often, I’ll write about someone else. And the response to that is something really amazing. Especially from the person it was written about.
Some of my most successful posts on this blog, the ones that get re-read, the ones that initiate the most response, are when I share a story of someone else’s life, and how it impacts my own.
To see their impact, there, in black and white on a page, seems to often do something for their soul.
Maybe it encourages them. Maybe it empowers them. I just know that it helps them feel like they mattered. Because they do. You do. I do.
The gifts and abilities each of us have are no good unless we use them to edify and empower one another.
We focused a lot on learning what our “spiritual gifts” were when I was growing up in the Baptist church. Mine almost always came back to “encourager”.
I feel like I intrinsically fail at that most of the time. My natural instincts are to be judgmental and unforgiving and put people in their place with words that will shame them and put a mirror of their hypocrisy in front of their face.
Having the gift of words can be a blessing and a curse.
But I’m seeing, more and more, how using this storytelling ability to uplift, encourage, and edify one person at a time can be something beautiful to give back to this world. Leave that legacy of kindness I so want to carve onto my little spot in this life.
My stories may never be read by more than a handful of people. But if those within that handful know and believe they matter, then I will have accomplished the empowering kindness of encouragement, just by doing what God has enabled me to do.
I think, sometimes, we imagine that we have to do something big to make an impact.
That’s not true.
We just have to do whatever little bit we have the ability to do, and let the results tell their own story.