Our lives are a tapestry of experiences. Some are good, some are bad, and as we navigate the confusing waters between, it’s easy to feel alone. We can get stuck in our own little worlds, trying to shine ourselves up for the passersby that window-shop our lives. But on the inside, we sit in the dark wondering why this life is so hard and why we are the only ones that can’t get it together.
We need help—someone to walk with us and show us the way—maybe turning on a light or two.
What we don’t need is someone else to give us a list of steps and to tell us they’re easy. We have racks of magazines and stacks of books telling us that we’re not good enough. We have shows and programs to teach us how to be less of this kind of person and more like that. What we have less of is the people who live their lives with honesty and vulnerability—letting us see the moments as they happen, both good and bad, giving us hope and an example to follow.
In that way—our stories are one of the most important things we have. They’re the words and experiences that have gotten us from one place to another. They’re the moments of growth and of learning and of defeat that eventually turned to victory.
And in a deep, soul-tending way, those stories help—partly because they show us the way, but mostly because they show us that we’re not alone.
It’s one thing for someone to tell you that they’ve been there, or to casually reassure you that it’s all going to work out fine in the end. But it’s a totally other thing for that person to sit across the table from you and tell you that they know how hard it is to get out of bed in the morning—how it feels like the pit of depression is impossible to escape.
It’s reassuring to know that we’re not alone—that the confusion and hurt and doubt we’re experiencing isn’t only ours. There are people who have actually survived those swells and navigated those waters into a better way of living. It’s even better when they invite us to bring our ships right behind theirs—riding in the smooth protection of their wake.
Stories are the threads that connect humanity. They always have been. Stories were told before language was ever written, and shared before anyone knew how to read. They’re the ways that we reflect on who we’ve been and how we set a new course for who we’re going to become.
Stories are important. They’re the documentation of our lives—the way we touch the world outside of our immediate reach.
It’s tempting to think that the world needs lots of stories—but not ours. Tempting to believe that the only stories worth reading are stories of perfection, and good skin, and people starting orphanages in Africa. It’s tempting to think that the world doesn’t need our locked up, confusing mess of a story. That nobody would want to read about someone who is undone and knotted like us.
But the truth is that everyone is messy. Everyone has their own brand of confusion, their own specific flavor of doubt and insecurity and fear. And everyone needs to be told—from experience—that it’s all going to be ok. Everyone needs someone who has gone ahead, turned on some lights, and left some safety in their wake—that person can be you.
Will you live honestly and courageously? Will you tell your story?
Image via Beauty Is A Light In The Heart