Comparing Stories

My friends and family are the most incredible people ever. Honestly, when I try to figure out how so many wonderful people converged in my little bubble of life my mind goes blank. It just happened. God wrote it that way and in a million years I will never understand why.

Thinking about these people is one of my favorite things to do but lately Jesus has shown me something really sad. I use these people…a lot. More specifically I compare myself to them, using them as a sort of measuring stick I usually come to the conclusion that I’m not good enough, that my story is dull and going nowhere while theirs is exciting and flowing smoothly from one paragraph to the next. I’m The Old Man and the Sea. They’re Braveheart. I’m boring MItty. They’re adventurous Mitty.  I’m Leviticus. They’re freaking David and his mighty men. I’m exaggerating a little but I think you get the point. I’m basing my story, my identity, off of what I have formulated is “best” or “should be” from those around me. I’m not being inspired by them, I’m using them to tell me who I should be. And no matter how awesome they are, they should never be burdened by such a responsibility. That is not why God wrote us in the same chapter.

I’ve heard about the importance of story a lot lately. We as humans relate to stories more than raw data. We enjoy listening to a good story or watching one play before our eyes. They inspire the rowdiest of children to pay attention and cause the most stoic of men to crack a smile. Stories hold a special place in our hearts and it’s probably because we are all in a pretty Beyond Awesome story ourselves.

When thinking about our roles in this grandiose story I think it is important to understand that many of us are on different pages and chapters. We all have a world of unique and complex backstories, plots, and subplots so to think of what happens when two characters collide in the same sentence is a pretty expansive thought. They each bring their own flavor to the story but what’s crucial is that these characters are not who give us meaning or personality, they don’t write us into the next phrase. No, what they do is give us a nostalgic hint of a long lost friend, a memento of someone we once were so close to; they are infused with the very character of our author. The way He dots their eyes and crosses their T’s reminds us of who is writing this interstellar story. It reminds you and me of why we matter and why we are still ink on the page.

God has willed that we should seek and find His living Word in the witness of a brother, in the mouth of man. Therefore, the Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged, for by himself he cannot help himself without belying the truth. He needs his brother man as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation. He needs his brother solely because of Jesus Christ. The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother; his own heart is uncertain, his brother’s is sure.

                                                                                   – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

This is how I want to see my friends and family. They aren’t merely a litmus test to determine my worth; No, they are unique, beautiful, and complex characters in His grand masterpiece, just like myself. I’m not supposed to use them and they aren’t supposed to use me. Instead, God writes us into each other’s stories so that we can see and experience a new and wonderful aspect of His vast and unfathomable character.

When I compare myself to my friends and family, when I use them so selfishly, I miss everything. I replace the Jesus in them with the me I think I should be. But when God shows me why they are so stinkin’ awesome I get to enjoy them all the more, knowing that the words he uses to write them are the same words he uses to write me….

…words full of life and love and wonder…

the Word.

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