By Samantha McKenzie
We all love a good story. We want the happily ever afters, the heroes who save us from darkness and the successful endings that separate us from the ordinary. Whether we like getting it out of a book, a television drama series, or near the water cooler at work, most of us have held on to the memorable details of someone else’s tale.
But are we ready to tell our own story? Are we willing to share it all?
I grew up in a traditional extended family, where grownups bragged about the good times – the children who made the honor roll, scored the winning touchdown at the game or debuted at a recital. When we gathered together, they boasted about promotions and raises, the long overdue vacation and the latest “new thing” that they got on sale.
We shared a myriad of milestones that reminded us of the bountifulness of the good Lord and marveled in the joy that constantly filled our collective homes.
These were our stories about our unpredictable lives with chapters tastefully torn out. Deleted scenes. Shredded text. The tales still incomplete. We couldn’t share our stories.
I watched as family members skillfully tucked their secrets beneath their broken hearts and concealed the conflicts that arose during the course of any given day. Maybe it was because of guilt or shame, or a combination of both, but they all managed to bury as many mistakes as far down as it could go. The good intentions of proud people.
I hope I’m not alone when I confess that as a child, I ease dropped on many conversations. For years, I’d swap information with cousins until we finally pieced together an entire story. Dreaded details and all. This task sometimes took years to accomplish.
As an adult, I’ve learned about the immense power of telling your story and the healing that comes with it. Through ups and downs, we emerge stronger. There is a great lesson for all of us to learn. And many lessons still to be taught.
Our trials bring us closer to each other and create the bond that we proudly call family. They remind us that we are human and that we are responsible for the whole.
Our stories are us. They reveal the real heroes, like my aunt who never gave up on her son who was using drugs, or my uncle who worked every day to make ends meet. They make me proud of my dad who was always taking another college course because he was a student of life. And my brother who started his own business after being laid off.
We have to tell our stories. It will help others along the way.