Have you ever wondered about the impact you’re having?
I am tonight and mainly it’s because I’m not able to share in someone’s pain. My grandfather is dying and I want to be there, for him, my grandma, and my mom. But he’s too ashamed. So he’s distant. He wouldn’t admit it but he doesn’t believe death is natural. If he was willing to let me in, I don’t know that I could help him anyway, but I do know this desire to share in others’ pain is part of the reason I write.
We’ve all learned to show, don’t tell. But I don’t want to even “show” until I listen. I want to become aware of the enormous pain in the people around me, to hear it. And that means experiencing it myself.
I’m afraid, though, because I know what it means. I’ve experienced some things my grandpa hasn’t: namely, the unknowable depth of love that covers these unbearable sufferings. But he wouldn’t believe me. So I think to tell him in story. Can a story give him a sense of the unfathomable love surrounding us, the safety and security of that? At least the little bit I’ve experienced, I could try to convince him. I may not know his pain, but God does. Would a story be powerful enough, have resonance and speak of his reality? Is my measure of awareness big enough?
How I live would show through. Am I practiced enough to connect with the fact of his life slipping away as well as the fact of comfort? Am I too afraid? Is it too much for me? I look at Jesus who listened and saw it, saw the suffering and got closer to it. Focused on those he could help, those around him, he helped them and they helped others. His stamina and capacity to handle pain surely grew over time, just as my small handful of understanding will eventually reveal more of this universe packed with metaphor. I want to trust that God coming through the power of story will make up for my lack. I want to trust in the nuclear, viral power of story to break through. But can I?
I’ve written of the closer things, what I know. That’s where I’ve believed I could do the most good. What I’ve lived is what I have. I’ve shared about what was in front of me, let it speak of whatever universal truths it could, of this situation we’re all in. I know something of what I’m destined for and I’ve striven to reveal the bigger vision from my tiny sphere. But am I ready for this? Are we ever ready to really put our belief in the power of story to the test?
Life is metaphor upon metaphor. Earth, heaven, and hell presented in endlessly repeating relationships, mirroring each other and astonishing us over and over in endless transformations. I live in those connections. I explore them. My life is others’, my pain, their pain. I’ve seen the power of story create relatives of everyone, seen it carry God’s truth, teaching through representing, entertaining and awakening, showing me them and them me as we watch each other across time. The more layers, the more insights, the more life is reflected. It’s been my education to learn of myself and the world. If God designed story to teach me of his imbuing presence and who I am in him, can I pass that on now? If all of this has been my chance to experience God’s story given for me (Col 1:15—Jesus makes the invisible God visible, like a good metaphor), am I not to give my story to him?
Learning to follow Christ is like learning to write well.
A good metaphor describes a thing by telling you about something else.
All this is by design. Small things revealing the whole. The power of God, through us, in a simple story.