N is for Narrative

I’m sure I’ve mentioned more than once how I love the thought of the story of someone’s life.  As a child, I loved reading biographies of those who had overcome challenges.  As an adult, I was attracted to the stories people tell of their life (and how their perspectives can change).  I’d say for an avid reader and fledgling writer, being attracted to narrative is not much of a stretch.

Narratives keep going.  Stories don’t stop in the middle for the characters to get their bearings, or camp out in comfortability (is that even a word?).   Characters meet crises… and develop (or don’t develop).  The story develops right along with them.

So it is with our lives.  As much as I protest against change… it happens.  For the good or the bad.  And I have to figure out how to get through it… whether to grow or stagnate…. which secondary characters to lean on.

Like the character in a story, sometimes I can’t see which way is best to go.  I can’t see why the plot is twisting and turning in the way it is.  Sometimes… only the Narrator knows what is going on and I just have to trust that I’ll learn… eventually.

I’m glad I have others in my life who are willing to share their own stories and own struggles… both past and present.  I’ve been thinking for a while now about the power in these words:  “Once upon a time…” or “There was a time…”.

Several years ago, I was caught in one of those storylines that I saw no use for.  I couldn’t see then how I was growing and how that time was used to cultivate even more compassion in me… or appreciation for some blessings I have now.  I couldn’t see there would ever be a day that I would be free of the crisis that was overwhelming me.  And then… I met someone who had been through a similar situation.  Her words — “There was a time…” — were so powerful to me.  I was amazed that she could sit in front of me — joyful, hopeful, compassionate — and talk of a time she was filled with despair, hope dashed, jealousy, longing.  Her words gave me hope — that I would someday be able to speak of those times in my life with the words: “There was a time…” and fill someone else with hope that brighter days would come.

A few months later I came across this story… which reminded me that there was a purpose for my time for my time of waiting and times of feeling like I’m just not measuring up to others:

An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck.

One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.

At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water.
Of course , the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments.

But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream: “I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house.”

The old woman smiled, “Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side?”

“That’s because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them.”

“For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table.
Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.”

Sometimes our “imperfections” are ways of blessing others… sometimes God’s timing is used to bless others… or for us to learn lessons and develop strength.  Even though it is so tempting sometimes to try to skip ahead a few pages and know what will happen later, I am trying to stay in the moment, enjoy the present-day story and work on character growth.  I’m glad I get to be with others along the way and influence their stories as well. 🙂


5 responses to this post.

  1. “Based on a true story” is something I love to see at the beginning of a movie or a book. I like biographies and true life stories. The fact that something really happened makes it more tangible and meaningful. I can learn and be inspired by hearing how others have survived an ordeal or accomplished something or just lived.
    Blogging From A to Z April Challenge


  2. This brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing this story. I NEEDED it.


  3. Great post. Good reminders of lessons we all need. How many times do we become so full of ourselves that we fail to see what we can do for others. Or how many times are we so down on ourselves that we fail to see the good we are doing for others? We all need to stop and take a good look at ourselves and figure out which pot we are and make the changes necessary to become what God knows we can be.


  4. Oh, I loved this. Thank you for speaking from your heart Melody. 🙂


  5. The best church small group I’ve been part of started by having each member take one week’s meeting to share their life story. It took many weeks, of course, but having each meeting devoted to one person’s story worked so well — focused attention, undivided associations.


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