From Brokenness to Beauty in Wichita, Kansas

21 01 2013

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Are you telling your story?

I don’t necessarily mean writing a memoir or speaking before thousands or hundreds or even tens. I mean every day, wherever you are. Are you telling your story? To your children? Your neighbors? Your friends?

Or perhaps the better question is, do you have any idea how much your story matters?

Maybe you look at other people’s lives and think yours is too mundane or shameful or insignificant or sad to be worth anyone’s while. If that’s you, please hear this.

God wrote your story before you were conceived. Even before He spoke the universe into existence. Every “page” of your life — my life, any life — is part of His great unfolding plan. In our families, neighborhoods, communities, in all our coming and going, our life intersects thousands of other lives. Every time you or I interact with any soul — in the grocery store line, at the toll booth, in the doctor’s office, online — we become part of their story, and they become part of ours.

Are you celebrating your story? Really entering it, living present, constantly looking for God’s gifts and fingerprints?

We make a tragic mistake when we compare ourselves to others, envying his talents or her opportunities. When a master composer writes a symphony, he assigns each part with purpose. Some instruments take center stage, and some can’t be distinguished from the whole, but every note matters. Every. Single. Note.

And so I pick up my little triangle and my little stick, and I wait. I watch the Conductor and follow the music. I marvel as the violin coaxes heartbreaking beauty from only four strings. I tremble as the trumpets shout and the cymbals clash. I weep as the cello mourns. I listen, and I let the music thrill my soul — this glorious chorus of God’s design in human history — and all the while I watch Him, count the measures, and I wait.

And then it happens. He looks my way, points His baton, and I play. I play my note. My small, sweet note. Because it matters. The song isn’t the song without it.

I understand that now. But once upon a time telling my story in public petrified me. Would I sound smart enough? Clever enough? Spiritual enough? Would people agree with me and like me? Or would I stumble and stammer and then wallow for weeks in a pit of over-analytical mortification? Even if I reminded myself it was all about Him and it didn’t matter what people thought about me, I couldn’t shake the nerves. Deep down I craved acceptance, approval, even applause. It did matter. Maybe not to the universe, but to me.

But then my world fell apart, and slowly, slowly Jesus put it back together. He took my mess and redeemed it. He took my brokenness and created beauty. He did immeasurably more than I could ask or imagine, and He invited me to see it, and there was absolutely no way I could take any credit whatsoever for what He had done.

And then? He said, “Tell your story.”

Tell people the great things I have done for you. Tell your children. Tell your neighbors. Write it. Speak it. See all that I have freely given you? Do this tiny thing for Me.

And something changed. It didn’t matter any more if I was smart enough or clever enough or if people agreed with me or liked me. It didn’t matter if I stumbled or stammered or embarrassed myself. Really, truly, none of this was about me at all. It was about the symphony. It was about playing my one, small note. About dropping my little pebble in the water and leaving the ripples to Him.

Because God loves people. He sees our pain, and He longs to speak into it, and He places in our lives people whose stories explain us to ourselves. But if they don’t speak? If they don’t think their story matters? We are desperately the poorer for their silence.

People long to hear from God, and God longs to speak to them, and He invites us to be the notes in His redemption symphony, singing His goodness, love, and holy, unshakable purposes. We sing, story blending with story, and the music swells. Healing flows like cleansing rain, the stars dance, the trees clap their hands, and it’s all so far beyond us, we can only fall at His feet in awe and humble worship.

So I made myself and my little triangle available to the Conductor, and I told Him I’d play my note whenever He pointed His baton my way. And wouldn’t you know it? Occasionally, when the song calls for it, He does just that.

February 8-9, I’ll be speaking at a women’s conference at Eastminster Presbyterian Church in Wichita, Kansas. I’m very excited about it, not because I think my triangle and I are all that, but because so many people have been faithfully playing their notes in preparation for this event. Months ago, Lori, the adorable, energetic conference coordinator, brainstormed ideas with me, asked me to write abstracts about the various sessions I’d be presenting, and requested videos of me speaking. I didn’t have any speaking videos per se (who videotapes the girl with the triangle?), but I sent her links to the Parting the Waters book trailer created by Andrea McCarthy of Drive Home Productions, and the Mikeschair “Beautiful Life” interview filmed by Matthew Singleton. Lori took the videos to Steve Falke, Eastminster’s tech guy. They obtained the necessary copyright permissions, used my session abstracts to write voice-over, and created this video:

2013 Eastminster Women’s Conference Promo from Eastminster Church on Vimeo.

When I watched this, I can’t tell you how deeply humbled and grateful I felt. Who am I? I play the triangle in this symphony. I can’t coordinate a conference or seamlessly piece together a hope-filled promotional video. And Lori and Rick aren’t the only ones pouring their time, energy, and gifts into this. There’s the rest of the conference committee, the other presenters, and the group of faithful saints who’ve been praying daily that God will come and speak, heal and redeem, lift burdens and lighten darkness.

And God will come. I’m absolutely certain of that. He will take all our small, simple offerings and weave them into His symphony, and He will sing over us with joy.

So, if you know women in the Wichita area, please share the video or direct them to Eastminster’s website, and encourage them to attend. Registration is open to all women. And if you live near Wichita? Please come! I will be there, and I would love to meet you, celebrate God’s faithfulness with you, and make your story part of my own. But more importantly (and oh so much better!) God will be there, our mighty Redeemer, entering our brokenness and transforming it into beauty.

We tell our stories. We play our one little note. And God takes it and makes it echo into a world of wounded hopes and dark silences. What a wonder.

Are you telling your story? Do you have any idea how much it matters? More than you could possibly know.

* * *

Giving thanks in community for gifts received (#660 – 677):

a lovely visit with Karen, who tells her story (and others’) so faithfully and well
glimpses of the bigger picture
dancing with Naomi
lingering over morning coffee
order
Jacob’s laugh
Luke’s cheerfulness
long conversations about difficult topics
finding God faithful
entering sorrow with a friend
the miracle of Tabitha
taste buds
shiny hardwood floors
candle light
prayer
the armor of God
faith


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8 responses

21 01 2013
Mary DeMuth (@MaryDeMuth)

I wish I could go! Sounds amazing, friend. Love you.

21 01 2013
jeannedamoff

I wish you could, too! How fun would that be? Love you, too, Mary, and your beautiful heart. xo

21 01 2013
Ann

Stopping over from Multitude on Monday. What a wonderful analogy of the Composer and the symphony! We all have our place, according to God’s calling! Wishing many attendees of the upcoming conference to be blessed by hearing your story, and in return, you are blessed as well!
In His Love, Ann @ Christ in the Clouds

21 01 2013
jeannedamoff

Thanks so much, Ann, for stopping by and for your kind words. I echo that wish, and I trust our generous, merciful God will grant it. Love to you.

21 01 2013
Linda Chontos

It is overwhelming to this needy heart when the Father uses someone’s words to minister and bless. Thank you for this Jeanne.
May I just quietly ask one question? What do you do when your story is also other peoples’ story and they are not ready for the telling? Or what if the story would only be hurtful to another person? I feel a bit “less than” – not telling the story that has so changed my own walk with the Lord. I just don’t know how to tell it under such circumstances.
If I lived anywhere near Witchita, I’d be there. I’ll be praying.

21 01 2013
jeannedamoff

Oh, Linda, that is a hard and important question! Not knowing all the details in your case, I can only say that, in my own life, I make every effort to respect other people’s stories as I tell my own. When I wrote Parting the Waters, I tried to be very careful about mentioning names or specifics when it came to parts of the story that might be hurtful to someone else. I also obtained permission to include personal information about other people when it was crucial to the narrative.

Now, when I speak, I often include stories people have shared with me since the book came out, and again, I’m careful to either gain permission or leave out names. It’s a sensitive matter. I pray God gives you wisdom and creativity to be able to share what He has done in your life without hurting others or infringing on their privacy. Perhaps the day will come when those people will also desire to let God redeem the past and make it an encouragement to others on a similar path? I will pray with you to that end.

Much love to you, my friend.

4 02 2013
gracelandjenn

What great encouragement for everyone to play her part! I love the symphony analogy! Thank you.

4 02 2013
Web Wanderings – Feb. 4 « living in GRACEland

[…] From Brokenness to Beauty in Wichita, Kansas by Jeanne Damoff – “Are you telling your story? To your children? Your neighbors? Your friends? . . . Are you celebrating your story? Really entering it, living present, constantly looking for God’s gifts and fingerprints?”  […]

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