Saturday, May 9, 2009

Life Story: A Matter of Perspective...

Life as Story

Are you a reader? Perhaps a writer? Have you ever thought of your own life as an unfolding story? A story that is part of a greater story?

Dan Allender in his book to be told states that
“…everyone’s life is a story. But most people don’t know how to read their life in a way that reveals their story. They miss the deeper meaning of their life and they have little sense of how God has written their story in order to reveal himself and his own story.”

**unless otherwise noted, all quotes are from this book.

The Plot Begins…
“Both your plot and mine are formed in the circle of relationships into which we were born…including the age or unique situations at the time of our birth.”

So true. Much of my life and the directions it has taken are the result of where I was born and the culture that I was born into. You see I was born into a culture that lived a retro lifestyle if you will…in Mexico. The first 7 years of my life I spoke only a German dialect called Plautdietsch and I have happy memories of holidays and Sundays with extended family.

Avoiding my story…

“If you don’t like your story, then you must not like the Author…”

You may not be aware of this but there are numerous denominations and differing cultures within the Mennonite community…

When I started school in Canada, I quickly became aware of the fact that Mennonites from Mexico were considered the ‘black sheep’ of the Mennonite family. My brothers and I began to experience teasing, mocking and put downs about our backgrounds. Sadly, much of this came from other Mennonites. People made generic assumptions about our cultural background and insinuated various things. This continued into high school.

As soon I graduated high school I moved away from home, and unlike visible minorities who go through this sort of thing, I was able to hide from my background. Not only did I hide it for years, even from myself, but deep down I developed a hatred for this Mexican culture…because it was, after all, their fault that I’d experienced so much ostracizing and ridicule wasn’t it?

Jean Vanier says that fear lies "at the root of all forms of exclusion," and we exclude because we are frightened of "those who are different, those who challenge our authority, our certitudes, and our value system"

Becoming a Co-Author/Editor
“We are not wholly our own, nor are we exclusively the result of what happened to us. “

“We become a coauthor when we know our plot and choose to reengage the tragedies of our lives with new patterns, thereby developing new themes which mark who we are as coauthor of our lives and editors of our future! “

When I went to Seminary in the early 90’s, one of the college students was a cousin’s daughter from Mexico…a sharply dressed, beautiful young lady…breaking my stereotype of who these people were. She was my first direct connection with that culture in years and I ended up being her instructor in a college counseling course. Because of her, I began to pray that God would show me these people through His eyes and that He would help me love them with His love. I went down to Mexico for this young lady’s wedding and a vision for the future began to stir in my heart. It took a number of years, but in 2005 I moved there to work in the Mennonite colonies.

Respect begets Respect

“The manner by which we treat people in our personal and occupational lives reflects or denies the truth of our commitment to human dignity and respect for individual worth.”

quote from Dr. Haim Ginott (1956)

The Genre

“How would you tell the story of your life? As a comedy, a tragedy, an irony, or a transcendent drama.” Selwyn Hughes

“Trust that the Casting Director has given you a role that highlights not only your special talents and individuality but, more importantly, the way in which divine grace is at work in your life.” Selwyn Hughes

Depending on what point in my life you met me, you would have seen an attitude that spoke of my life as tragedy, and at the biggest points of denial, a comedy. A transcendent drama began to be realized when I was about 33 and it continues…I’ve come back from Mexico more at peace…feeling more whole. I have a new appreciation for the beginning of my story…the culture that laid the groundwork for the rest of the story. That part of me is no longer hidden and I have a great love and compassion for the people…I feel so privileged to have had a small part in their story…and hope to have again in the future.

Divine grace…I would not know God in the way that I do had I not gone through the things that I did in my life…and I would not have been able to touch the lives of those in Mexico had I not been someone who was trusted because I had ‘history’ with them…Yes, there are many sad stories, some shocking ones, but there are also many redemptive, creative ones.

~The End of the Story~
“The ending of our stories are how we lived them towards an aim, a finish that is worth both living for and dying for.”

“Our stories are meant to be given away to others for their benefit. “

Like any story, we sometimes don’t quite get where the Author is leading us until the very last chapter or page when things suddenly become clear. These past two and a half years my storyline was altered drastically and I still have little idea as to the purpose of these twists nor where the story will take me now.

But, I trust the Author and I know that the ending is a fantastic one! So, I do my part as Co-author in what I choose to do with….and how I react in….these unexpected twists and turns. With anticipation and curiosity as to what the next turn of the page will bring…and, honestly, sometimes holding my breath with a little fear…as one does in a suspenseful story…

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