A little girl swinging on the swing laughing and giggling with her friends. From the outside, it looks like everything is fine. Yet on the inside, this little girl, holds the heaviness of a story that has yet to be told.
A teenager losing herself in the story of the character she now shares on stage. Living out a story on stage while another story hides in the depths of her heart. Tears shed silently at night.
A high school graduate sent off to work at a Bible camp. Packing up her belongings and her beloved story that has yet to be told as she heads off to her first job away from her family and friends. She laughs and shares her story. Yet little do these new friends know that part of her story is still hidden in the very crevices and depths of her heart.
Then one day, a phone call comes and breaks open the very crevices and depths of her heart as the words begin to spill out from her mouth. A story now unleashed into the world as she begins to break the stigma that comes with mental illness. A freedom that breaks open too as she finally tells her story of being the daughter of a woman who daily lives with a mental illness.
This is my story! A story that took 18 years to unfold and finally spill out into the world. Yet from that moment, I have realized that there is a power that comes in telling our stories. Brene Brown says, “The bravest thing you’ll ever do is tell your story.”
In sharing our stories, there is such holiness in unwrapping and breaking open our stories; full of their own brokenness and beauty into this world. There is holiness in knowing that one is not alone in this world. There is holiness in sharing our stories because in sharing our stories, we live out the power of God’s words in our lives. In other words, by telling our stories, we embody the word made flesh in this world.
How can we love each other as we love ourselves IF we do not truly listen to one another? How can we advocate for justice and peace if we don’t understand each other’s stories? This is not an easy calling, yet it is a calling that, I believe, helps us understand one another. And this calling can be told in so many ways. It can be told through how we act and live our lives. It can be told through video and films. It can be told through poetry and through words. It can be told in music and the words that become flesh through those lyrics.
The truth is that through our stories, we are God’s Word embodied and made Flesh in this world. And there are days that we probably want to take our stories, with their brokenness and pack them away like they were never unleashed in the first place. But the beauty is that God takes those cracks and makes them beautiful. Those cracks remind us of the power of God’s love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness in each of our lives. I am reminded of the Japanese art form kintsugi where they repair broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. This art form treats the breakage and the cracks as part of the history of the object rather than as something to disguise.
Our stories, full of their own cracks and brokenness, remind us always of who and whose we are. Our stories break open into the world bringing about God’s Word right here in this broken messed up world. And I don’t know about you, but I take comfort in knowing that God created us each for a specific calling and purpose. And today, as I reflect on my life and being the daughter of a woman who lives daily with a mental illness, I can honestly say that one of my callings is to be Sandy’s daughter: Tara; beloved, broken, blessed child of God!