Two days ago, I was sitting at the Pittsburgh airport, waiting for my plane to arrive. However, I was about two hours early before my plane would depart. Luckily, I my books with me to pass the time. Out of the five books in my bookbag, I chose Karen Scheib’s “Pastoral Care: Telling the Stories of Our Lives”. This book is required for my January Term intensive course, Pastoral Care within the Congregational setting. While I am not finished quite yet, I would recommend it as so far it is a good and interesting read.
Gradually, more people arrived at the gate. During this time, three women sat down to my right. Two of the women were either friends or related and the third woman was a stranger to them. While I was engaged in my book, I listened to how the three women engaged in conversation with each other. They shared different stories about where they were coming from, where they were going, what they were going to do once they reached their destination, and everything else in between.
The encounter made me smile. First, because of the irony of the fact that I am reading a book on how to provide pastoral care by telling and listening to the stories we have. And second, because I was witnessing the true power of sharing our stories with new people.
We are embarking on a new year. Through social media and face to face encounters, people have told me that they cannot wait for 2016 to be over. It seems for many, this year has been harmful, painful, or just disappointing. I cannot deny that many events this past have not fit this description.
At the same time, it is hard for me to truly generalize this entire year as terrible. I had moments that I hope to never relive again. But I also have moments that I hope I get to experience again as well.
I experienced my first job at working in a grocery store.
I survived two more semesters of Seminary and completed many classes:
History of Christianity I, Theology II, Ministry of Pastoral Care, Spiritual Life and Leadership, Educational Ministry, Ministry in the LGBTQIA Community, and Christian Ethics.
I became the 2016 Camp Staff Director at Christmount for the entire summer.
I crashed my car in the middle of downtown Dallas and thus bought my own car for the first time.
I took on the ministry intern position at Ridglea Christian Church and have gradually experienced new forms of leading in ministry.
I have traveled and visited friends and even had my best friend visit me in Texas.
I have begun the process of struggling financially as I become more and more like an adult.
I have witnessed the country’s greatest mistake to occur within our modern era.
There are many stories, both good and not so good, that are present within each of these major year events.
And I am sure each of you have had moments and experiences this past year that were good and terrible as well.
For all those who had moments that were just horrible for them, I do hope you never have to relive those moments again.
And for all those who had experiences that gave them meaning, enjoyment, and love, may you get to experience those experiences again!
But what does this have to do with our overall stories?
Well, 2016 is a part of our continuing story. Both the good stories and the not so good stories.
Often, we try to hide the not so good stories and pretend they are not our own. These stories may be embarrassing for us. They might be damaging to our health. They might be viewed as unworthy to be shared.
No matter what your reason may be, I am truly sorry if you feel you cannot share your stories with others.
I am a believer that sharing stories with others can be a healing event. It is within sharing our stories that we share who we are with another. It requires vulnerability and within that vulnerability, we can see the harm within a person and our own souls.
It is my hope that no matter how many terrible events that have happened this year, we can still share these stories with others. There is truth in the phrase, “misery enjoys company”. We are not born to live in isolation. We are not meant to live without sharing our stories.
My hope for you, is if you have a story, from this year or another, that you feel you cannot share, find a good friend, family member, or even counselor to share your story with. Someone you can trust and know they are listening to you and will love you after the story if finished being told.
And for everyone else, my hope for you is that you take the time to listen to the stories that need to be listened to. You never know what a difference you are making when you sit down and listen to someone who needs their story to be heard.
Happy New Year Everyone.
May you embrace and share the stories you have, for they are worth embracing and sharing.
May you embrace and listen to the stories others have, for they are worth being embraced and listened to.
May you remember you are loved and your Ruah is always with you,