Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Entering the Stories of Ordinary People and other ramblings

This is a kind of cross post. Just posted something on the MBS (ED) Alumni blog on this topic appealing to alumni to send in their stories (click HERE).

But the subject is something that interests me, so here's a more personal and longer rambling version :-)

I read this morning a simple piece by Gordon MacDonald entitled Entering the Stories of Ordinary People. Caught my eye because I "love" stories. Not just stories as in illustrations for sermons ... but stories that define and shape everyday people. The article and link can be found below but before that ... just a few rambling thoughts.

I find it sad that most people do not want to share their stories.

Sometimes people think their lives are boring and they have nothing significant to share but I doubt that this is actually the case especially if one is a Christian. I can't imagine how being a Christian can be boring especially since God is working in our lives daily, changing us into Christ's likeness.

I think our mindset and attitudes are being transformed (perhaps slowly but definitely surely!) and as we grow and learn, we see the world, our circumstances, our whole life in a new and wonderful way. We find new joy and learn valuable lessons (often unexpected) in things that may have once been thought mundane and insignificant. Even tough times are seen with "new eyes".

I think it is sad that we do not share more often these stories (big and small) because they have helped shaped who we are and who we are becoming. Many of us know the power of stories and the importance of good stories. Good Stories communicate, connect, encourage, opens doors, bless ... But more than that, a person's stories help me know the real person.

An interesting fact: 40% OF the Old Testament is in story form!

One reason why I blog is to remember and share my stories.... and while they may not be "earth shattering" stories, they are my stories about my life - what gives me joy, what saddens me, what confuses me, what teaches me, what frustrates me, what makes me stop to ponder ... My stories help me to better know who I am before God, what I am becoming or even in danger of becoming ...

Reflecting on my stories and that of others also helps keep me "real"...

Okay, enough rambling, here's the article ...

The other morning I headed for the Egg Shell restaurant just down the road from our home to join a friend for breakfast. My PDA scheduled us for 7a.m; but his, I later learned, said 7:30. Result? I had a half hour to drink coffee and observe life around me.

Sitting at 2 or 3 shoved together tables not far from my booth were ten baseball capped men in working clothes and mud-caked boots. The same group is always there whenever I breakfast at the Egg Shell. They sit shoulder to shoulder saying little to each other. Mainly, they read their copies of the New Hampshire Union Leader and shovel down omelets and home fries.

I once asked Cindy, a server at the Egg Shell, who they were. She said they were retired guys who had met for breakfast for years. "They're like a bunch of brothers," she added. "They do lots of stuff together." She didn't say what the stuff was.

When these mostly non-verbal men finished their breakfasts, they paid their bills, grabbed their coats and grunted goodbyes to Cindy. Some of them even give her a "sisterly" hug. I could see why she likened them to a band of brothers. As they passed my booth, I said, "Make the world a better place today, guys." One of them responded, "Great idea. We'll do it."

Two women (middle aged) were at another table. Unlike the men, they were spirited talkers, their conversation bouncing between laughter and whispered confidentialities. When they finished eating and started for the door, one called out to Gloria, the other server, "Behave yourself, Gloria. But if you decide not too, it won't matter much." This breezy goodbye tickled me because—and I mean no disrespect—Gloria doesn't look like the kind of person who would misbehave even if she had the opportunity. It was clear that the comment was an indication of affection between people who share a lot of history together.

When Gloria started to refill my coffee cup, I asked, "Known them for a long time?"

"Neighbors," she said. "One of them may lose her home. We're pretty shook about it."

"She's fortunate to have friends like you," I responded.

"Well, we're going to have to stick close to her."

For the rest of the story, click HERE

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