We were on a walk.

I don’t really remember what month it was. Sometimes the two years we pushed through the shutting of MODE and rebuilding of a new life is one big blur. I do remember that the trees were green and I wasn’t bundled up in snow gear, so I am guessing it was late spring.

I was on a walk with my son and we were talking deep stuff. Particularly about our recent filing for bankruptcy. I turned to him and said, “You know what is cool? You will look back and say, ‘My parents filed for bankruptcy’. That is mine and Dad’s story and now that is part of your story as well. But, the coolness doesn’t come from the specific facts of the story, it comes in the fact that because of this you will have a story that will uniquely situate you to talk to other’s going through this type of pain. Don’t hide your story, don’t be ashamed of it. Own it, knowing God wove this chapter into your life for a reason”. “Uh, huh”, he said. (After all he is a teenage boy, so he still needs some life experiences of his own to really own the significance of this conversation).

Do you think of the hardships in your life as part of what qualifies you to lead and love into the lives of others? When life deals us tragic blows, when the pain of loss or the sting of unfulfilled expectations stamps a tattoo on our hearts, why do we lean away from that part of our story instead of leaning into what that trial taught us and how that chapter uniquely qualifies us to speak to the pain of others in ways we never would have dreamt possible?

I think we desperately try to tear that chapter out of our book because we feel like failures. Our plan was “x” and instead we found ourselves at “y” and no matter how many times we hear that we should not shame ourselves and that “that’s just life”, we still want to appear well put together and in control.

Here’s the funny thing – owning your story in a healthy way is what gives us all the beautiful depth of character we will never realize from trying to sweep away the pieces that aren’t pretty. Those people that we have the privilege of meeting every so often, that draw everyone around them in and leave you wanting just “one more conversation”, or those that have accepted that the parts of their story that are not pretty but are in fact ugly and gnarled and imperfect, are the chapters that give them the best perspective and most empathy for mankind.

Look at your life.

Think about every twist and turn.

Acknowledge that, whether you like it or not, your story will ways be yours and that the lessons learned in each chapter are what make you uniquely qualified to minister into the life of the next person. 

This ownership is what will begin to heal your own heart.

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