Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Embracing Your Story

“The world is made up of stories- not atoms”- Muriel Rukeyser

One day, I was discussing the art of story telling with my spiritual adviser. And after our discussion, I came to the conclusion that he is one of the best story tellers that I know.  And he is a great story teller for many reasons: he gives great details, he express emotion, and makes the audience interested in every word. However, the reason he is one of the best story tellers is not because of how he tells his stories, but because the majority of the stories he tells are his own.

How many stories can you name off the top of your head? Two, Five, Ten? How well do you know them and can retell them to other people?

Now how many of those stories are your own? And are you proud of the stories that belong to you?

Another way to ask this question is, “Do you know who you are?”

I have observed that so much of our pain can originate with the inability to not answer this question. And I often wonder why some of us have such difficulty with this question. 

Perhaps, in the process of searching for our story, we allow someone else to tell it instead?

How many of you rely on someone else to tell you who you are instead of taking the time to reflect and answer the question yourself?

I am guilty of this dilemma all the time. And while it is alright for people to comment and make observations of their interpretation of your identity, accepting their interpretation as the whole truth can be very problematic.

I have the same view with religious teachings. According to Charles Kimball in “When Religion Becomes Evil” when a religious teaching, primarily an absolute truth claim to a religious teaching (the first warning sign), is not questioned then that creates blind followers to the teaching (which is the second warning sign). Asking questions is a huge part in our self-reflection process. 

If we do not take the time to reflect on our own stories, then our stories become lost to the interpretations of other people who believe they know our stories but in reality, they don’t. Only you know your whole story and can tell it in the best way. 

But what if our stories are not worth anything? What if we believe that the stories we have should not be expressed for others to hear? It breaks my heart to hear someone say that their story is not worth telling. However, truth be told, I have also fallen into this belief as well.

How do you know when this has happened to you? Take a moment to reflect on how many times you wish you were like someone else or looked like someone else instead of accepting how you look and act as worthy enough.

Envy is such a terrible trap to fall in and even those with the utmost confidence in his or her story can become enslaved to it. Throughout my life, I have fallen and become stuck into the trap known as jealously.

A prime example was when I worked on the Christmount Camp Staff in 2012. During the summer, I worked with four other college students and each of us has a very different story that we brought to the summer. One of my co-workers was an extremely popular guy with all the kids and the rest of the staff. He was fun, he was exciting, he was full of so much energy, and was a joy to be around. And as much as I absolutely loved working with him, I was also jealous of him. And the root of my jealously was that I wanted to be like him. I wanted to have his story instead of mine.

And it’s especially worse when you noticed that everyone else wants to hear that person’s story instead of your own. If no one else wants to hear your story, then why do you want to listen to your own? Why keep your own story?

But then, why do we want approval on our stories? Is a story good because of how many people enjoy the story? I don't believe so. While my co-worker's story is one that a large amount of people enjoy to hear, my own story should not be forgotten either. And though I am in the process of learning how to tell my story, I learned a great lesson from my co-worker: Never be ashamed of the story you have, because it is what makes you you and there is nothing greater than that!

You are you. You have an identity. You have a history. You have a name. You have a story. And I assure you that no matter what your past. No matter how different you are from the crowd. No matter how many people want to listen to your story, Your story is unique and you are worthy to share it!

So, I invite you to begin to share your story. I invite you to begin the reflection process of knowing who you are. The true You. Not the you that people interpret your story to be, but the You that loves oneself and does not need approval from anyone else. 

I would love to know your story, so please share your story, big or small, if you so desire! Remember, the universe is full of stories. Don’t allow your story to be silenced or forgotten! Add your story to the world!

For those interested, here is a brief glimpse of my story:
I am an old soul contained in a young form. I have had my struggles, through school, through society, through temptations, through loss and grief. I know I am loved and I intend to share that same love to everyone I meet. I have my mother’s stubborn will and kind heart and for that I am proud. I have a bleeding empathetic heart. And I know I am worthy and so are you!

Be You and Only You and May you embrace You with your entire Ruah!