preface: i'm a horrible, absolutely awful story teller. just ask my friends. this one time i told "the worst story ever" and i think the teasing has finally stopped, about a year later. i'll start a story and forget names, and places, and more details than were imaginable. and yet, i really, really love good stories. I generally try to live a good story, even if i can't recount the details later. ;)
i have friends who are telling good stories.
last week my friends graham, kyle, abby and chris (well, i don't really know chris, buuuut he runs with this crew, so he's probably stellar. hi chris, nice to meet you.) launched their company, LIFE=. they've been working on it for a good while now, but it officially launched with a what else, but a launch party. because you know its not official until there is a party.
i was excited about this party because i love these guys. and i love their product (for real, its awesome) and i love what they're about. "a better you creates a better world" so.so.true. BUT i get up every morning at 4:30. and work for 8 hours. and then go on a run. so by about 7:30, i'm beat. for sure not gearing up for a party. i knew i didn't have a whole lot of energy left to give people. as i walked in, i felt the strongest sense that i wasn't there to talk, to half tell stories i couldn't remember, but to listen. so that's what i did.
i heard stories about my friends who are living in a church in the middle of a part of town known as the murder factory named for just the culture of violence that is bred there. they're newly weds sharing ONE bathroom with 4 other couples and two single girls. They have a heart for the city. and the people who live there. They're developing relationships with their neighbors. loving up on the kids running the streets. praying for change, redemption, and seeing it happen. being a part of it happening. friends, i don't have an innate bent for the inner city, but after talking with them for 30 minutes, i was so filled with encouragement and excited for what they're doing! the lives they're living. the stories they're writing.
they left and i caught up with another friend, who has just gone through a really hard season. over the last year, he's seen his hopes, his dreams slip through his fingers like sand. now, he knows enough to know that "it was for the best" but its still painful. i was talking to him a few months ago, asking what was new and he shared a new adventure that might be happening. i asked him what it was. he didn't want to tell me, in case it didn't happen. and he was tired of telling people and everything falling through. i totally understood. but last week. i sat next to him and i got to hear dream after dream after dream being fulfilled in his life. more than he could have expected. it was beautiful. where he could have given up, resigned to always getting the short end, he pressed in. and he's doing the dang thing! His joy and peace are palpable. when everything felt stacked against him, he chose to believe a better story.
as i was walking out, an old friend was just coming in. Well, he's not an old friend, we haven't even known each other a year, but i feel like we've been friends forever. see, he started/help start the community i'm a part of. the community that has taught me about identity. and and mission. how to love well. and how to be loved well. he was there long before i was, and laid foundation that i don't think we'll ever know the full scope of. so over this year, he's talked about his heart getting pulled, between his job and his passions. His job that he didn't absolutely, completely love was draining him for the work that he felt really called to. it wasn't working. so he decided to switch it up. change departments. go part time. have more time to invest in the community he's a part of now. a community that knows that change happens through life on life relationships. sharing stories.
i really didn't know what to expect at this party. didn't know who was going to be there. or what it was going to be like. i thought i was going there to support my friends. cheer them on. remind them that the hard work, the hard year has been worth it. life was going to = me encouraging others. how tragic would that have been if that's all that i would have been present for.
i'm so glad i heard that still, small voice telling me to listen. i'm so glad i actually listened. amazing, really incredible things are happening all around us. in our lives, in our friends lives, in strangers lives. There are good stories being written over and over and over. there are stories being redeemed. beautiful stories coming out of the dust. are our lives telling those stories? better yet, are we listening to them?
what does LIFE= for you?