My Life's Stories
Inspired by the testimonies of others and the invitation given to me a few weeks ago to share my own, I have created this space on my blog to share My Story. Here is the introduction and an invitation to read along as I share My Life's Stories to give a Testimony of God's Goodness. Along the way, I hope you will also be inspired and equipped to start recording your story.
It would make sense to begin the telling of my life’s story with the day my life began, December 9, 1981. Yet, over the years and through various experiences inside and outside of the classroom, I have begun to see, literally see (note tree image below) that my life, especially my spiritual life, didn’t begin with me. I didn’t arrive on the earth tabula rasa, because I was set into a family, a generation, and the place that existed before me. I arrived on the scene one cold December night, a fresh new life, but my story didn’t begin there.
A couple years ago I wrote and taught a study title, Go & See. This study was birthed out of an observation that many of us believe we are called to the live lives of impact that require of us to use what we have to bless the people in our places, but often we struggle to understand what we have. Or many of us are in need of space, tools, and time to allow ourselves to reflect in order to find insight and vision for how what we have been given is meant to be used to multiply the work of God on this earth, right now.
The first step I challenged my learners to take in this excavating process was to create a timeline of her life. The objective in this was to put an image together that helped each to see that part of what she is given to guide her on her journey forward are the experiences she walked through in the past. Each experience, when set in light of Scripture’s truth that “all things work together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purposes” becomes a gift that can be used to help frame vision, outline dreams and move to action with intentionally and focus.
As we do the hard work of reflecting to see how Jesus has walked with us, guided our steps, assigned our portion and cup, and made our lot secure, our confidence in him increases. In the wake of this increase, we become strengthened and able to live like we really believe our the actions of our lives matter. Not just to us, but to those around us. Many memories that stick are of experiences that include others. As we see this, we also begin to see that what we do is impacting those around us. And we get to choose to let that insight lead us to actions that align uniquely to the natural and spiritual gifts set in us by our Heavenly Father.
Did you know a timeline had so much power and insight waiting to be found in the dots and the dates?
Since I had already created my timeline before leading the learners through the activity, as they began to reflect and record, I decided to get a bit more creative with my content and create a tree to represent the people and experiences of my life. As I was “drawing” I looked at the tree and realized it was missing roots.
A tree doesn’t start growing from the base of the dirt. Rather, the seed is deep in the ground and the visible parts of the tree only come up after the roots grow down, tethering the tree to the ground. I couldn’t complete my picture without adding these important roots.
But what were they? Who were they?
As I brainstormed and sketched I began to see something I hadn’t really praised God for before. A part of my story that I hadn’t taken time to consider the impact of in regards to its relationship to my purposes and callings lay there right under the surface. My story really began with people whose life experiences and faith cleared the way for my life to begin, my paths to move in a certain direction, and established a heritage from which the faith roots of my life would grow.
This insight provided a great many things for me to think about and consider. But quite possibly the most important ones were that it humbled me, and filled me with gratitude for the family and places I had been set in. I had spent a lot my life reflecting on my choices, my places, and my giftsings. I knew and believed God had given all of them to me as gifts to use for his glory and to love his people. But taking the time to see how my story didn’t begin with me helped me to also see that my story doesn’t belong only to me. How I live and the faith I profess is also planting seeds in the lives of the people around me. My story will be told from my point of view but it isn’t my own, and it doesn’t belong to me.
Instead, it rests in the hands of the most magnificent author, God, who is orchestrating a tapestry of divine impact through the connectedness of our stories to one another. When I am able to step back and view all the ways my story is not my own--it is grafted into the stories of all the ancestors of my family line, all the believers from the beginning of time and the great, great story of the Gospel--I get to humbly look to heaven and say, “Thank you for all you have given me. Help me live the story you have for me in a way that keeps the trees of faith in this generation going.”
And so I write and share my story because my story didn’t begin with me, nor will it end with me. I reflect and record it so that I can be humbled and grateful. And so that it can be viewed by others as a testimony of God's goodness, presence on the earth and in my life. So that she too can believe He is at work in her life too.
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Jaclyn is a wife, mom, educator, visionary, and avid runner who uses her writing to pick up and examine life, culture, faith and running, probing to discover the awe of God who is sovereign over it all. Join her on her journey at jaclynloween.com. She is a firm believer in the powerful, effectiveness of the body of Christ united together to live out theGreat Commission. Because we are stronger, healthier and lovelier when living on mission together, she desires to help others know their unique design and purpose for such a time as this.