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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

I am a Story Collector

I collect stories.
The Bible is filled with really awful, horrible chapters of stories. Hard journeys of deceit and jealousy, murder and rape, exclusions and cover-ups.  If you take one of these chapters and hold it, study it, and try to make sense of it, you could easily miss the truth of Christianity.

The Bible isn't meant to be read as a chapter. It is meant to be read as a whole.

If you only read the chapter of Eve eating the forbidden apple, then you would miss the whole of her story, a beautiful story that tethers the God of creation to Jesus to the Holy Spirit. Eve's story is even part of my story today.

Our lives are the same way. We have horrible chapters in the midst our stories. Chapters of too hard and deceit and mistakes. There is danger in holding on to just a bit of the story.

This is why I am a story-collector and I think you should be one too.

My children have seen the worst of humanity while in biological and foster homes. Our stories are started before we are even born and then they are written moment by moment and breath by breath. Our brains are designed to make sense of the world by telling stories.

We own the stories that help us understand the world.

For a neglected child, the story might go -- No matter how loudly I cry, no one is going to take care of me. The only way to get what I need is to take it myself.

Another story goes like this -- The kids who have always lived in this house are loved the most. They get toys for birthdays and they get to hunt Easter eggs and they get to dress up for Halloween. Since I've just joined the family, I have to sit in my room during the festivities. Families love the kids more who are there the longest.

A story might go like this -- As long as I don't make any noise or eye contact, then I'm safe. They'll leave me alone.

The story can go like this -- If I make a mess, even if it's an accident, I better run away. If I'm not around, then I won't get hit.

Too many kids tell themselves -- I'm too dumb to be loved. I'm too annoying to be loved. I'm too messy to be loved.


Our brains cycle stories over and over in order to make sense of our experiences. Too often, the stories we tell ourselves are untrue. Unfortunately, our brains are unreliable and don't recognize an untrue story. All of the facts have congealed to give a version of the truth and our brains accept it, and make a story to confirm the untruth version of the facts.

I collect stories to document a different version. 

Too often when older children join a family, they are living out the untrue version of their stories. They bring a whole slew of unpleasant behaviors and harsh words. It's important to remember that this is only one chapter of their stories.

And it is an ugly chapter.

A forever family lives the ugly, so the story can be rewritten.

This is a beautiful truth: A story can always be rewritten.

That's what we learn from the ugly chapters in the Bible. The stories don't have to end ugly. David -- a man after God's own heart, a king, and part of the lineage of Jesus -- got another man's wife pregnant, tried to manipulate her husband, and when the husband refused to rest because he felt it was disloyal to his troops who were still in battle, David sent him to the front lines. It was an elaborate murder scheme. Once the man died, he then married his wife and she bore David a son. 2 Samuel 11 is one of those ugly chapters.

I'm glad David's story doesn't end there.


The beauty of the Bible lies in its entirety, just as the beauty of our lives lies in the whole journey. The story isn't finished and it doesn't have to be stuck in the ugly.

I pile stories as proof that a life doesn't have to be stuck in the ugly. I gather celebrations so they don't slip into the shadows. I muster the moments because together they help me to learn to love more.

I am a story collector so others can live a more beautiful version of their own story.

2 comments:

  1. Ruth-
    Your story made me cry. We are living one of those ugly chapters right now and it's hard to remember there will be more good ones. Thank you.

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  2. Piling stories, gathering celebrations, and mustering moments. You teach us so much by your storytelling - all to encourage us to love as He loved. Happy to sneak in a comment today. Thank you for the gift of your stories.

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