One of the Greatest Stories Ever Told

In the name of professional development, I decided to enroll in the Story Skills Workshop offered by Akimbo. The focus of my business is all about storytelling and the workshop was on sale, so I figured why not?

Yesterday’s prompt asked us to choose a story and apply the three principles of storytelling. Decided to share my response with you guys here:

I learned how to read when I about two years old. The first book I picked up and decided to read on my own was the Bible. I remember the excitement that I felt when I read the words “In the beginning”, the thrill of being able to know for myself that these were truly the words printed on the page and not just the way every story begins. This was the first time I didn’t have to rely on anyone else to unlock the worlds hidden between the pages of the books I so wanted to read.

School helped me to recognize letters, form words and sentences, bend them to my will and shape them into stories, poems, research papers, and the like. Church helped me take the words in the Bible and uncover meaning, and purpose, and instruction, but failed to give me genuine context. So I lived a warped version of what I felt “truth” was.

Fast forward 25 years, a marriage, and one child later and I am sitting with the very first book I’ve ever read opened in my lap. My eyes and ears, all too familiar with its pages, many passages pressed into my memory, ready to be recalled word-for-word at any momen. Somehow, though, this familiar friend was now something foreign – not in a frightening way, but in a way that invited me into another side of the story. The side that church, at least the church I went to anyway, forgot to tell.

I tasked myself with one mission: hear this book out on its own terms, in its own context. Not what my parents told me, not what my church told me, not through my own personal lens that I read through. I went back to the story that opened my eyes to the wonderful world of reading with an open mind, open heart, and fresh perspective. I went back to the ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek languages that it was written in. I knew our foreign English tongue could not do justice to the true essence of what these ancients wanted to communicate.

I allowed myself to become a tourist in the stories of the Bible, doing the diligence of looking up photos, researching cultural practices, and figuring out what the people of that time continued to shout into the future, so powerfully that its presence is still so palpable, even thousands of years later. What I thought I would see is a portrait of the God I always knew: stern, crazy, erratic, sometimes cruel, with a sprinkle of care here and there. What I found was as astounding as it was beautiful.

When I had the humility to become a tourist, to stop and look again, and to honor the cultures these rich stories were set in, here is what I found and how these principles applied:

Engage the Audience:
The story opens with the all-power Ruler of Everything stepping into darkness and creating a place where human creatures would serve as His representatives. They are given agency and are invited to co-rule with the Creator and be conduits of blessing to everything around them (whereas the mythologies of the surrounding cultures of that time have gods that create humans to serve them, to be eaten by them, etc).

Show the Challenge:
The humans decide to use their agency to make choices of good/bad on their own instead of trusting in the Creator, thus sending them spiraling into patterns of chaos, bloodshed, and failure. Since the failure occurred through a human, it has to be repaired by a human, but none of the human agents in the stories – even the best of them – stand up to the test.

Show the Change:
A human appears that is able to do what no other human has been able to accomplish. This human is able to reconcile all of the chaos in an act of ultimate sacrifice. All the humans that come afterward are invited to leave the chaos, patterned back at the very beginning of the story, and step into the role that was originally carved out for them.

I grew up with the Bible as a rule book, a guide for morality and telling me right from wrong. As I got older, I found that it couldn’t serve me in that capacity. So instead of throwing the tool away, I learned how to actually use it, and was able to uncover the love story laying underneath. The literary design of the book itself is incredible, and understanding the way it was put together illuminated the way I look at all stories. For the second time in my life, the Bible unlocked a new world of reading for me.

Stopping to Smell Roses

Life has been… well, life. In this season, I’ve been learning the skill of adjusting my expectations.

There have been plenty of ups with the fair share of downs. Sometimes my kids would drive me up the wall, but most of the time, they’ve been the highlight of my days. Of course, we want them to be perfect little angels – obedient and adorable. Instead, I have the perfect pair of sour patch kids.

Earlier this March, my freelance contract had come to and end and it was time to look for the next gig. Within a few weeks, I had been contacted by 2 major companies, both wanting to contract with me. This was it. Things were finally looking up!

Until I was still searching my inbox days later, looking for those two good-ol’ Intro to HR emails meant to get me excited about the upcoming onboarding process, and finding nothing but spam and disappointment waiting for me.

Three months went by, and each check-in was the same: “We’re super excited to have you on board! We’re just waiting for HR to finish up things on their end and we’ll be good to go!”

I’d be lying if I said it was easy to sit and wait. I’d be super lying if I said I was never down about it, that I never questioned my value from time to time, that I didn’t want to stop believing that they would actually come through. I could easily start beating myself up about the times I handled situations poorly and lament over what I could have done better.

Comfort can feel so much better than solutions, especially when you’re really going through it. Fortunately and unfortunately for me, I’m a solutions-oriented person, so sitting in comfort isn’t really a long-term option for me. I dread the work, but I can’t NOT do it, not with so much vision to manifest. I have to move forward, whether by inch or mile.

On this journey onwards, I’ve decided to take a brief pause to reflect on the more stressful situations I’ve been through this season. Yes, some of them were unpleasant, some downright ugly, but there were lessons learned – skills gained. The gems I’ve obtained along the way will unlock doors that would otherwise remain closed.

I’m getting back to the basics and tapping into the power of gratitude.

These roses are beautiful. They are fragrant. Sure, the thorns of disappointment may prick you a time or two and the blazing sun of truth may scald the skin as you tend to the precious garden of your life. But that’s ok.

It’s ok that the bright side is blinding – that’s what shades are for. Walk forward.

The Great Disrupter

The sound of wetness is the ultimate disrupter for me when I’m exploring sounds.

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of misophonia, but I have it and it was on the fritz.

I was listening to a podcast – full volume in my headphones. And then I heard it… then couldn’t un-hear it. It was so bad that I had to shut it off.

I heard the moisture in the speaker’s mouth and I couldn’t handle it.

It’s like when I’m making mac and cheese – once it’s time to mix the cheese into the noodles, I need headphones.

A whole lotta yuck and cringe. It sets me on edge every time.

This is a huge reason why I’m anti-whispering lol

Just say it out loud.

The Sound of Silence

I’m currently sitting in the passenger side of our family’s Jeep Grand Cherokee. The windows are slightly cracked to avoid burning precious gas with the air conditioner, and my 1 year old toddler is screaming in the back seat because we decided not to play her requested song for the 14th time.

For this month’s Creative Quest with Channel Twelve, we’re exploring the theme of sound, and I’ve decided to focus more on silence than actual sound. In this moment, silence would be the absolute best thing to be experiencing.

It’s in the silence that my brain gets a chance to meander through fields of thoughts, pick up interesting ideas, and drop some off by the wayside.

As I’ve been tuning into the silence more often, I’m realizing that it’s not as silent as I was expecting it to be. The voices in my head are actually pretty loud when I don’t have anything else distracting me from them. They really have a lot to say.

I found out the other day that not everyone has a relentless inner monologue going on and it intrigued me. This phenomenon is called aphantasia, also known as blindness of the mind’s eye. Blew my mind, honestly. Until that moment, I never imagined a world where people didn’t think in sentences or have mental conversations with themselves.

That’s a level of silence that I truly can’t fathom but I’m completely fascinated with it.

What about you? Do your thoughts have a voice or is silence your friend?

The Brave Thing

Throughout my creative journey, I’ve gone back and forth about the “brave thing”.

The hardest thing that has to be done in order to live the life I’m trying to live.

Sometimes I’d say talking to folks and socializing is the brave thing for my introverted self.

Sometimes I’d think that being willing and able to put your feelings on display is the brave thing.

Now I know that the brave thing – the real hard thing – is showing up.

Showing up again and again, showing up knowing what I’m doing, every single day… that’s the brave thing.

Anyone can be complacent. Anyone can wait for someone else to show up and do something.

Every day that I choose to be that ‘anyone’ is a day that I choose to be my bravest self.

Showing up is a super power.

Time to tap in.