Friday, April 4, 2014

Heart of a Storyteller

All my life I have been a storyteller.

It's something that I don't think I realized about myself until I was an adult.  I love stories.  It's why I devour books and cry over movies and love the personal story pieces that ESPN does.  I love to tell stories too.  Girls in my small group used to tell me I had the best stories.  Friends always wanted me to be the narrator when we played Mafia.  A handful of people throughout my life have told me that I'm a storyteller, and it's been the highest compliment I've ever been given.

I've been writing and telling stories in my head all my life.  But I've never tried to put one of my stories down on paper.  Until this past year.

Last January, I kept feeling this urgency to start writing this story I've carried around and developed in my mind for years.  I was so scared to do it; scared that I would run out of words.  But oh, how the words have grown and carried.  I fell in love with making and refining this story.

I would write 34 pages, all of which would end up being tossed out, but I loved it, because it led me to finding my voice and finding my story buried somewhere under the first and second and third drafts.  Constantly this story fills me.  I think about it when I weed our flowerbed or when I'm driving down I-40.  Scenes and words and character traits and conversations come to me in bits and pieces.  I'm so tangled up in it.  It's incredible.

My little story is now on about draft 12.  It looks so different now than what it did even a few drafts ago.  I joined an online critique group, I've shared it with friends who I know would give good feedback, and I've shaped and reshaped until it finally looks like something.

I feel that I am finally doing what I have been called to do.

Writing has been so incredibly life giving.  It's been amazing to connect to God in this way.  God, the ultimate story teller, who dreamed us all up and determined our own stories--has placed a little bit of that in me.  I write my own little tale and am taken aback sometimes.  And I ask God out loud, "Is this what it's like for You?"  This exhilaration that comes from shaping a character or editing a story and making it just so.  Crazy to think he has done that with each of us.  Shaped the story, shaped who we are in it and how the story is around us.  I am so thankful that He's allowed me to experience Him in this way.

And this week another lesson hit me.  I read this a post about getting through hard times.  I cried when I reached the point where the writer says:

"God, we're confused."
And He answered, "I'm not done yet."

I cried when I read it.  Right now I am working on the sequel to my story, and in it I am allowing some really, really horrible things to happen to my character.  When I started on this section I got so excited to write it, which sounds really horrid but bear with me.  I am excited to write this part because even though it's horrible, it is wonderful because it sets the stage for the redemption that is to come.  Without this horrible, awful, no good middle, the end would be worthless.  The magic of the story would not exist and the characters would not have lived and would not know the love, the goodness, that awaits in the next chapter.

In essence, I am saying to my story, to my protagonist and all that love her:  "I'm not done yet."

And it just hit me because I'm in the middle of my story this way, how God does the same thing.  He is not done.




All these pieces of my life that are unsettled or unanswered or confusing (the sobbing, wailing, breaking of the heart kind).  He's not done.  And I get it now in ways I haven't before.  I get how the horrible, awful, no good middle makes for the most beautiful type of ending.  Katniss had to take her sister's place and Tris had be taken my Jeanine and Buttercup had to be kidnapped and Ruth's husband had to die and Abraham had to be infertile and Jesus had to die this horrid death....all that so that the next chapter could unfold the way it was meant to.

I think we're so tempted in life to want to jump to the last chapter.  But without the middle, would we even want it?  Would it satisfy us or make sense?

Probably not.

Our Storyteller is not finished.  Is not finished.

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