Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Everyday Stories

We tend to seek out the extraordinary, the glamorous, the miraculous to discover a greater meaning to this life we're living. Personally, I find myself slipping into the blues when I think about how my life in the present is leaning toward the mundane-twenty-first century-task oriented-daily ritual of running kids around, cleaning floors, washing another load, and trying to consider exercising when my body is just too tired from my late night Netflix binge.

Yeah, everyday life is nothing to post about on social media. Hmph. And yet, I do...and everyone cheers me on, and I think we've all relented to the fact that this is it, and we may as well celebrate the likeness we all share--even if it's about hacks for getting that dirt stain out of our kid's baseball pants. 

This morning, I sat and read Philip Yancey unpack the facades history and people have piled upon the first century Savior in his book, The Jesus I Never Knew, and I came across this:

"...I doubt I would have left any encounter with Jesus feeling smug or self-satisfied. I would have marveled at Jesus' parables, a form that became his trademark. Writers ever since have admired his skill in communicating profound truth through such everyday stories. A scolding woman wears down the patience of a judge. A king plunges into an ill-planned war. A group of children quarrel in the street...There are no fanciful creatures and sinuous plots in Jesus' parables; he simply describes the life around him."

I wonder what parables Jesus would use if He chose this century to share the love of God to the world? How great it would be to have Him come into each encounter and mold it into a truth-bearing lesson. What if I took my everyday and made it extraordinary--not by forcing extravagance or manipulating success--but by simply living it with a keen eye for deeper truth? Maybe deeper truth as simple as this--I am living and breathing by the grace of God.

As a fiction author, I often brainstorm how to hook the reader, and how to create the next unique plot twist. But, as my writing friends and I often lament, there really is nothing new under the sun (pardon the cliche). While it's all been done before, as authors we can only share the same stories with a fresh perspective, thus imprinting our story as unique in the eye of the reader. One Great Storyteller, far greater than anyone before or after Him, told stories that have lasted through wars, cultures, eras, and billions, and they were just ordinary stories with an extraordinary perspective.

Yancey goes on to say, "The parables served Jesus' purposes perfectly. Everyone likes a good story, and Jesus' knack for storytelling held the interest of a mostly illiterate society of farmers and fishermen...years later, as people reflected on what Jesus had taught, his parables came to mind in vivid detail."

Vivid detail.

To have a reader remember a story told with vivid detail is a great feat. It's what any author strives for. But to have a story of everyday life be so impressive and heart-changing that centuries later we can apply them to our modern lives, is something only an annointed Savior could possibly do.

But in Yancey's point about the tool of parables, I also find a lesson for me as a person sitting here, blogging for satisfaction of getting my words out, for hope that I am not just writing for myself, but for a like audience who understands me. The lesson isn't just for my faith or my own storytelling. But it's for my living too.

What details will I remember of this everyday life? Will I look back and see a striving, thrill-seeking, bored, wishy washy gal who grumbled about housework because she just wanted to be entertained?

I want to remember this time of my life with vivid detail--even in the daily routine. I am glad we celebrate the mundane together in Facebook statuses and happy tweets. I want to go one step further and discover what God could be telling me in those moments. What would Jesus say to elevate the simple to profound? 

 If I keep my eye focus on seeking out the extraordinary and successes, I'll miss the life that I've been given...the whole life, not just the shiny moments. But, if I allow my presence to be the gift, the simple place where deeper truth might be found, life might be a little more extraordinary with each step, and I might find God among the everyday stories.

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