Sharing My Journey: How I Got Ready to Share My Story
I believe what Jesus says about us. He says we’re not all that different. One day, in church, my pastor had us play the “I’ve Never, BUT…..” Game. This game reminded me of the ways we’re not all that different. If you’re human you can play this game. You just put yourself in someone else’s shoes to play it. If you ever spanked your kid too hard you could play the game by seeing inside the heart and mind of the child abuser. You’d play the game by saying, “I’ve never abused a child, BUT I have lost my temper and hit my kid in anger. I’m not a child abuser but I think I understand how it’s possible to become one.” The game was meant to humble us. It was meant to make us see the ways we are connected to the people around us. It was meant to make us see that we are connected to the good, bad and ugly of life. It was meant to show us that we hold hands with all of humanity, not just the people we know and like.
My latest collage is of two beautiful angels who are holding hands. They remind me of all the people who I’m connected to. I’m not just connected to the people I love and care about. I’m connected to the dangerous driver who cut me off in traffic, the schizophrenic man in the wheelchair, the doctor who is completely indifferent, the lesbian woman seeking acceptance, the man who forgets his baby in the car on a sweltering day, the cashier who burns with rage because of my two extra express lane items, and the uptight neighbor whose life priority is grass edging. I’m connected to the psychiatrist who forgets about his patients, people who make sport of marginalizing others, the neighbor who ignores the fire engine in my driveway, a teenager who torments little children, the Bi-Polar woman and the friend who viciously backstabs me. I’m connected to the woman who abandons her child, the man that thinks three rounds of electric shock therapy is really wonderful for his mom, the guy who mauls me against my will, the man with a movement disorder, the catatonic woman and the institutionalized patient. I hold hands with all of these people. I’ve never…..BUT only by the grace of God.
I used to ask God to make me nice, so I could feel superior. I wanted God to cure me of my self-loathing, so I could look at myself in the mirror and like what I saw. I begged God to absolve me, so I wouldn’t have to speak the words that would shed light on my darkness. I didn’t want to speak the words, “I am a terrible sinner.” I prayed that my life would be perfect and that I would never be sick or in pain. I asked God to take my guilt and shame away. I also prayed for stuff and for things to go my way. I used God. I look back on what I’ve felt about people, all the ways I’ve been angry and hated, and everything I’ve feared, run from and done. As I look back and see who I’ve been, I ache to be someone new. I have a new prayer. Today, this is how I pray: “Jesus, let me love better today than I did yesterday. Let me let go of the things that stop me from loving well. Send Your angels to encourage me. Send Your Spirit to convict me. Send Yourself to change me. Remind me always that I am connected to others. Let me remember that I hold hands with them. Give me the ability to love them well. Give us the ability to love each other well."
Along with my new prayer comes surrender. I've arrived at surrender. With the decision to write my spiritual autobiography, Dancing in the Doghouse, I have learned that surrendering is my new job. The more I learn to give everything to God the more I experience freedom, health, joy and peace. That's why I'm surrendering Dancing in the Doghouse. I'm going to let other people read my story so that they might learn about surrendering too. I want others to know the new freedom I've found in giving my life, and my story, over to God.
It's scary to surrender my story. I'm really very small and limited. There's a lot of unflattering stuff written within the pages of Dancing in the Doghouse. My spiritual autobiography is a messy, gritty story of a sinner's spirituality. I've got nothing in my life to be really proud of. In fact, I have so much to be ashamed of in the absence of God's love and forgiveness. For as long as my story can be read by anyone who chooses to, I am continuing to rely on God to use it for His purposes. It is my hope that somehow my spiritual memoir will bring you hope and encouragement in spite of me. I am now surrendering my spiritual autobiography to you, because I trust that God is big enough to use it.