Everyone has a story... Arguably, some are better, or "more interesting" than others... but everybody has one...
My Uber driver showed up within seconds. I climbed into the front seat of the jet-black suburban, and settled in for a ride. I was in New York City! Apparently, making polite conversation- something we do in the south- hasn’t been invented in NYC yet. I asked, “Where you from?” He smiled and said, “Queens, New York.” I asked, “Where are your from originally? India? Nepal? Pakistan?” I was guessing. I admit it. I was judging the book by the proverbial cover. He smiled again and replied very concentratedly, “Queeeensa… New Yorktt”. He was obviously not originally from Queens. The word “originally” was much too much of an advanced English word for him to comprehend, to have been originally from “Queeeensa, New Yorktt”. “Alas,” I thought, “I’ll never get your story...”
I was left to my imagination. Where did he immigrate from? What obstacles were overcome? How long had he been driving? How difficult was it to navigate the immensity of this endless city? How long did it take to understand the variety of traffic situations he was thrust into? Passing the driving test… in what language? Did he drive in his home country? If so, on which side of the road? Accidents? Near misses? Fatalities? Insurance? I was curious.
Everyone has a story. I’m fascinated with stories. Listening to a myriad of people relay to me what they think is a seemingly nondescript life story, I find that it’s hardly “nondescript” at all… it’s fascinating! To me, there’s no such thing as a “nondescript” life story. The pains, joys, victories, defeats, embarrassments, humiliations, and humorous experiences that make up a life are always great stories! Who hasn’t overcome adversity? Been afraid? Cheered for an underdog? Scorned a smart alec? Had... an experience?
What’s your story? Yes, you do. You have one. And yes, it is. It’s interesting. Don’t be afraid to tell it!
Growing up, my family didn’t have a television. We didn’t have Xbox or the internet. Or smartphones. We didn’t even have microwaves! Believe it or not, they weren’t really affordable until the late 1970’s and in 1986 (the year I graduated high school) only 1 in 4 households had one! However! In the home I grew up in, we had something even better! We had… a Storyteller!
My dad would have us eating a big bowl of “stove-popped popcorn” as his words carried us back in time to the days when Samson walked the earth defeating the Philistines. Samson was the first version of an “X-Man” I was ever introduced to. By the time I started reading “The Incredible Hulk” I was sure he was based on Samson, or at least, on the version my father embellished in his late-night fictional fabrications and what-ifs.
He regaled us with stories of his heroes. Eleazar, Shammah, Asahel, and on the list grew. Men who fought until their hand stuck to their sword. Men who stood in a bean field and refused to yield. Men who ran like wild deer…
Of all the stories he would tell, none were as fascinating to me as his story… “Tell me again how you and mama met…”,I’d blurt out, sometimes in the middle of another rendition of David and Goliath. “I want to hear about you and those Peters’ boys!” I’d exclaim as he walked into my room to tuck me in. My sister, tiny, cute as could be, red-haired and freckled all over, would giggle and suggest a different story. We absolutely loved story time.
Fast forward a few years and my daddy became a minister. As he traveled the country sharing the gospel, he’d unfold it like a story, and he was great at it. I’ll never forget The Greatest Story Never Told…
In Matthew the 28th chapter, there is a story… Jesus was laid in a borrowed grave. A tomb. The tomb itself was a large, hand-hewn hole in the face of a hill, with a channel in the front for rolling an immense stone down, tilted to lean the stone toward the hole, and angled to make it easy to roll closed, while simultaneously making it very difficult to open… A group of soldiers- probably Roman and more than likely the usual 16-man guard- were set in place to watch the tomb where the murdered Messiah had been laid. Many commentators argue that this was not the usual, ordinary “temple police”, but was in fact a seasoned Roman guard. Sixteen men strong, each responsible for six square feet of space, each liable for one another… Ensuring that no one leaned on anything for relaxation, or dozed off, or mentally zoned out… If one man fails, all are punished…and that quite severely. Beaten, burned in their clothing, horribly executed… the Romans were genius at inventing chastisements. Therefore, they were stoical. Vigilant. Acutely aware. No one- disciple, friend, pilfering tomb robber, or lost and wayward drunkard- would be getting near this sealed tomb… It wasn’t just their duty, their lives depended on it. And then, it happened.
There was an earthquake, and an angel (just one) came down from Heaven, and he (this one angel) grabbed the stone and by himself rolled it away. And then, as his face shown like lightning and his clothing radiated like the sun off fresh snow, he just sat down on the stone. And waited. His very presence frightening the battle-seasoned, grizzled, hairy-faced soldiers who had “been there and done that” into sheer immobility… The women showed up and inspected the empty tomb. The angel their personal tour guide. They finally left in excitement to tell the others. Now what? Everyone is going to find out. The soldiers had to go and give their report. Tell their story. But when they got to the chief priests (men they knew would be on their side?) and relayed these events they had been privy too, the priests immediately recognized the utter chaos that this story, from these soldiers would bring about. They must be silenced. They had to kept quiet. This could undermine their hard work. This one story from these witnesses- not disciples, not young people, not hormonally charged women, not a worked-up crowd… Battle-tried, unmoved, disciplined... soldiers. Their story- was dangerous. It could change the course of history and undermine the religious regime that had been in place for thousands of years… They had no choice. They had to pay them off! And so, they did. And the soldiers- afraid they might have been… but, greedy they certainly were- took the money and agreed to remain mum about the events witnessed that fated eve. “Let the silly women tell their story. We’ll just say we know nothing about it, we were tired, we fell asleep… the disciples stole him away, if anything. Probably while we were at shift change. We don’t know anything about an angel… Never saw it. Didn’t happen. We’re not telling our story.” They had reassurances from the priests that they wouldn’t be punished for saying that they slept through the entire series of events. And their story, that could have changed the world… was the greatest story never told.
Everyone has a story. And a lot of people for one reason or another, are not telling theirs.
“Well, I was molested, and I’m embarrassed about it.” “I was a thief and I’m ashamed of it.” “I don’t have a story; I was never really delivered from anything.”
Someone else could benefit from the fact that you were molested and somehow managed to redeem some since of normalcy in your life…
A thief needs to know that you changed your ways…
Never delivered from anything… Wow!! How did you manage to evade addictions, temptations, snares, and pitfalls throughout your life?
I hope by now you are thinking like I’m thinking… You have a story. And it’s worth telling. And it will make a difference in someone’s life. If you have ever overcame any adversity, if you have ever fought and won, if you have ever lost and recovered from it… Why aren’t you sharing it?
It’s more than a story… it’s your testimony. Real men share theirs. And so do real women.
Marine. Husband. Christian. Father. Pastor. A Real Man helping masculine men find their place in God’s Kingdom, without sacrificing masculinity to do it.