Stories

Holding our place, playing our part. The feeler, the helper, the entertainer, the decider, the helper, the listener, the gift-giver, the worker...over the years the roles may exchange, the intensity may shift, but as family, we all weave a thread in the history. We each serve a word in the story.

We gathered last night to celebrate my dad’s birthday in my parents’ home . It’s been a lot longer, given our proximity, than most people would think. Between schedules and commitments and the urgent necessary of everyday life, the logistics of one five year old plus eight three and under in the youngest generation, it’s been a lot longer than we wish. But, in a way, it’s a space that brings greater appreciation for the loudness of us all together.

It brings a sense of wonder to a home I’ve never lived in. It brings a sense of sparkle to what would otherwise have been a very normal night of potluck tacos, strawberry cake, a golden hour walk and piled-up movie watching while babies rotated in and out of napping in closets.

See, here, history surrounds us. Knick knacks don’t just decorate, they represent. The embroidery mom needled as a girl, the letter her mother wrote her, the one of two-hundred-fifty flyers we all went door-to-door with the night my dog ran away. A candle fountain at the bottom of the stairs to the basement, they call it their “fountain of life”. Some men’s office walls hold their plaques, their honors, their accomplishments; though he could fill them with those same things, my dad’s walls hold his family. The doll I saved my first allowance pennies for, the dress I learned to sew for her, the unfinished photo albums mom chuckles at and promises to work on someday.

But stepping into the same stories these pictures whisper of, family is where humanity is most exposed. And in this rawness, hurt is inevitable. We’ve all been there with words thrown, the daggers stabbed, and pillow muffled sobs in the dark. No family is perfect, no member unfallen.

But, because of the bitter depths our blood can drive us to, the glorious height of forgiveness’s tender potential rises just that much more profound.

The promise of divine healing extends just that much more covering, that much more redemptive.

Listening to a Bible story with my children recently, I for the first time sorted through the details of a story I’ve heard my whole life - a story of a brother rejected, threatened and sold into slavery. I listened as Joseph’s whole life held forsaken dreams and forgotten promises. His family didn’t just leave him, they sold him. And, yet, in the end, he didn’t just care for them, provide for them, save them, he feasted with them, he forgave them. He surrendered his need for self-protection, self-righteous justice and, instead, lived a story of tender humility, all-encompassing grace. He, despite all, loved.

Oh, to live, to leave a legacy like that.

See, either way, years are going to pass, the memories collect, and generations continue. We don’t get a choice in that. Our choice is in, instead, to offer the love with which we have received and thus cover. We get a choice in the forgiveness, grace, joy, laughter, the light with which we can choose live, we get a choice in the legacy we leave, the story we weave.

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