I didn’t know adopted parents would scan my words looking for glimpses of how to love their little ones or teenagers better.
I didn’t know adoptees would write of their fears and failures experienced through life and their climb for meaning in letters to me.
I didn’t know those struggling in faith and wondering of worth would slow down to take in my words and tell their stories too.
I didn’t know that so many hopefuls and those hurting would gather here on Friday and then send texts, emails, FB shares and comment in public.
But they have. They have read and reflected. They have traveled into my heart and then looked at their own.
I invited you and you have come along. You have passed along the links and said prayers on my behalf.
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Ernest Hemingway
You have understood that this takes courage and you keep spurring me on to write more, wounds and all.
You and I, we are learning what loving strong looks like together.
And I rejoice.
Then want to stuff my words in the ground.
I am honored.
Then get the urge to delete or quit.
I feel the privilege of touching lives.
And then cower and lose the guts to stand by my determined hope.
The battle rages in my psyche and the peace settles into my soul in a torrent of unpredictable waves. The UNKNOWN is frightening.
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Maya Angelou
Frightening. But so is deadening to that which beats within me.
I believe that in telling my story, something sets free. I am convinced that asking you to look at your own has merit and momentum waiting to be tapped.
photo by Marie Elzinga
The Nun, The Teacher (The story starts HERE, if you missed Parts I – IV.)
I didn’t know she was a teacher. I had always assumed she worked at the orphanage as one would who had taken on a full-time job.
But she was a teacher.
These Catholic Sisters spent time in Bangladesh as nurses and teachers. Lives devoted to service in a land far different from their childhood homes.
Life stretched out before these nuns to be caregivers and educators.
And they did it.
They didn’t know what was ahead of them when they took their vows and charged the world with their meek and mindful love.
They changed the world.
They recounted instances of their professions within their telling of lives lived well. They spoke with surety that their work and service left others better.
An educator, by training and by passion, I found myself beaming to be in conversation with other teachers. To hear of their students and the people the children grew up to become, I got it. I knew of this pride and expectant joy.
But my nun.
The one that held me. The one who loved when she didn’t have to and didn’t know what my future held. She was a teacher.
She was the teacher who walked a student home to talk to his mother.
She was the teacher who didn’t know what the home would reveal about the little boy who soaked up her lessons. She was the person who wanted more of the story, to learn of his life.
And in this, she was the one who saw a dirty rat run across the belly of his baby sister who laid on a dirt floor.
She cried a small cry as she told me.
The kind of cry that doesn’t let the tears fall or the chest heave. The kind that many miss because it is tempered with control. But it, like most small cries, was screaming with emotion.
She told me she didn’t know what she could do to change enough for the little boy and the rat infested house, but she knew that the unknown couldn’t stop her from trying.
So the teacher became a “home for women and children” dreamer.
So the teacher became a hostel founder.
So the teacher gave her time and her arms to holding babies whom others had discarded. So the teacher became the love of my infancy as my life intersected with hers decades ago.
So the teacher, with academics known and vows spoken, stayed in the story of a little boy and his baby sister. She didn’t know where it would bring her, but she has no regrets.
And as for me?
I don’t know what should be in the blog posts and what should stay in my journal. I don’t know why this is the time to uncover this story and why you keep reading.
But the nun.
She told me to come soon and in doing so, I heard of bravery..
I won’t be the same again.
I likely don’t know even the breadth of her swath of love, but I know she loved strong even when it was difficult.
So yes, I believe that in telling my story something gets set free.
I am convinced that in asking you to look at your own story that you will tap merit and momentum.
We don’t always know what, but like the nun, the unknown, it must not stop us.
We must be willing to try to love strong in the stories of our lives.
Be it clear, this is not easy.
I have grown weary and cold in moments directly after the hours I have told parts of my story .
I have distanced from people because my intensity is often uncorraled and I am tired of apologizing and explaining.
I have even set up a therapy appointment to tell someone with an outside perspective of life trauma and ask of childhood attachment wonders.
Doing what I don’t know is risky business, but it let’s me practice strong love.
I don’t get to keep the picture perfect life as my story gets told, rather I get to imperfectly finally live.
In all of this, the chronicles still stand. It’s a commitment to consistency even if my growing and learning paints the canvas with more shapes of dysfunction than shades of perfection, so be it.
I have hope.
I am learning to love me.
You get to learn to love you.
Stay in the story longer, both your own and the ones of those around you. This is what changes the world.
Then the art of our lives becomes a song and the notes that keep the melody are tuned to redemption.
Then even if the music that wraps around our chorus has strains of discord and human fragility, it tempos our songs, our stories, and make us human.
The notes of the last verse, oh how we might wish to erase, but they help us now shed the masks and reach for real. They curl in fragrance to worship and pull Heaven to earth when we can’t find our way. Heaven holds, guides, and surprises us.
Stay in the love.
Get drenched in grace.
Even if you don’t know how thick the forest or the bends of the river.
Stay in your story.
Learn of stories from the world over.
It is a big place.
Stay in the love; no length of winter and no vile rodent, nothing is too much for love. Hate, misfortune, injustice, mistakes, unbelief, death, abuse, fear, futures, and the unknown—love can out distance. Not all will be redeemed this side of Heaven, but we don’t know what will be, so love strong and live well.
For all that you enjoy and for that which you endure, stay, even if you don’t know, this is living, this is brave hope chasing.