Recently I was at a confirmation program retreat with my daughter. We were sitting around a table of 7 people. The program speaker gave us an overview of her "life story". She detailed when and where she was born and stepped us through major milestones in her life. She then asked us to take a few minutes to go around the table and for each of us to share our life story with everyone at the table. There was a man who we didn't know and his 12 year old son at our table. When it was a gentleman's turn, he said simply, "I don't have a story." Just then the speaker told us that our time was up and started moving on speaking about something else. I was left sitting with the empty feeling of his words..."I don't have a story." They struck me hard. I wanted to say to him, "What do you mean you don't have a story? Of course you have a story, everyone has a story." I felt bad, he was obviously suffering and I felt that it must have been a hard thing for his son to hear too. I could feel and the sadness radiating from him and through his confession.
When the speaker was done, we all got up and moved on to the next scheduled event. The gentleman looked at us and thanked us for joining him and his son at their table. They were sitting alone prior to us joining them. They were the only ones there from their church and he said they felt awkward prior to us sitting with them. I didn't see the man or his son again.
I have thought about this brief interaction several times since that evening. To be honest it has really bothered me. What was his mindset that he felt he didn't have a story? There was an emptiness and a sadness about him and his son, like a dark cloud was hovering over them. Could I, should I, have done more to comfort, council or help him? What was his story?
We ALL have a story. An imperfectly, perfect story. We have a story, even if our story isn't what we wish for our story to be, we still have a story. Telling our stories allows us to connect with one another, but most importantly it allows us to connect with ourselves. As Brene Brown says, "When we deny our stories, they define us." What you choose to do with your story is your choice.
What's your story? Do you like it so far? What would you change about it if you could rewrite it? Are you in the beginning, the middle, or the end of your story? How would you finish writing your perfectly imperfect story?
This gentleman's story along with all of the other stories of sadness occurring in our world recently can leave us with a heavy heart. What is the right thing to do in these situations? What is the Christian thing to do? What would Christ do? I realize that the issues are complicated and that there are a lot of considerations and that sometimes there is no easy answer. Let's at least challenge ourselves to stop and think about what Jesus would do.
I have been praying for a lot of people lately. I have also been relying on exercising empathy, compassion, and love. Challenging myself to not operate from a place of fear, but rather from the place of love. I also know that when I feel helpless from afar that I can go to my compassion meditation, I have my tools. This not only helps me, but sends good energy, compassionate energy, out into the world.
My desire to bring more happiness into the world is also strengthened. The world, and the people in it, need more happiness. We need to learn how to bring more positivity into our lives and to those around us and less negativity. I look forward living in a world where there is more positivity than negativity and I know it'll happen, people are hungry for it to happen.
I invite you to do something small today to impact the world in a positive way. Do a random act of kindness, offer someone an encouraging word, praise someone for doing something good or for a strength they have, tell someone you are grateful for them and why, smile and wave at your neighbor. Nothing that will take a lot of effort, time or money, just something small and simple. Spread some happiness, spread some light, spread some love. You never know, your positive deed may have a huge impact on someone else's life. It'll make you feel good and tip the scales in the world toward happy stories.
I would love to hear your feedback on this post. Please leave me a comment or drop me an email. It would be great to hear about your random acts of kindness :)