Thursday, November 1, 2007

From chapel speaker to Christmas tree

Thanks for checking up to see how chapel went...I'm relieved to report that the sick feeling I had in my stomach disappeared within seconds of turning on my fancy headset microphone. I was comfortable and words somehow flowed from my heart to my lips to their ears...and hopefully their heart.

They laughed... no one cried (and neither did I!)


And this is what I shared:


We all like stories. It started with Saturday morning cartoons and movies like "Land Before Time". We heard bedtime stories. We heard stories in Sunday School thanks to giant felt boards and felt characters. We listened to Odyssey Tapes and watched McGee & Me.


Middle school stories consisted of who started wearing deodorant and embarrassing stories of changing in the locker room. High school stories about football players and cheerleaders, and rumors like "Bobby smiled at Jenny who told Katie who was dating Fred who was playing soccer with Bobby, that she wants to go to Prom with Bobby."


High School ends... and then we talked about how it's the end of the world... We listened to Admissions Counselors tell stories of various colleges. And then, you ended up at NCC. And now you tell stories of things that are happening back home. You tell stories of how many papers you had to write and how many tests you had to study for and how many hours of sleep you didn't get last night.


Movies tell stories. Books tell stories. We flip through photo albums because the pictures tell stories. The news tells us stories. Reality TV shows tell us stories of real people, and we are sickly fascinated by it. The Bachelor, America's Next Top Model, The Life of Ryan...

We like these stories because we relate to them. They make us laugh, they make us cry, they make us angry.


It's incredible how many stories I've heard in the last 2 1/2 weeks of being at NCC:
  • You said you're alone during the holidays because you don't have anywhere to go home to.
  • You said you've been sick for weeks but you can't go to the doctor because you don't have health insurance
  • You said you sneaked a pizza through the window in the library
  • You said you don't even want to think about graduating because that means you have to face the real world in just 6 months
  • You told me why you chose NCC
  • You told me about the boy whom you think is a-mazing
  • You said your car broke down
  • I heard that you don't really get this whole "Christian thing"
  • I heard that you really want to go on a date
  • You talked about going to a party and things got out of hand
These are parts of your story and you need to keep telling them.
If you're like me, you've made up excuses to not tell your story. You think your story is boring. Someone might think you're a big nerd. No one could ever benefit from hearing your story. No one cares.
WRONG.
We're at a Christian college and a lot of people share their testimony - the story of how they became a Christian. It can be scary to talk about if you don't have the right verses memorized or the right answers to the tough questions.
The more I learn about Christ, though, the more I learn that all He expects is for me to share what I know to be true for ME. MY story.
Jesus calls us to TESTIFY. Think about a witness stand at a trial. That person has been called forward to testify. They are asked to talk about what they know to be true. They might not know all the facts, but they know what is true for them. They talk about what they've seen, heard, and experienced.
Every part of your story is significant. I am who I am because of who I was. You are who you are because of who you were.
(At this point, a volunteer came up and put on various props that I used to explain parts of my story:
  • a pair of HUGE glasses to represent all the things I've learned in my college courses, and also the comment from the cutest boy in 6th grade who said, when I wore my new pair of round glasses to school, "when are you going to get contacts?"
  • a tiara to represent the moment I became a Christian, a Daughter of the King
  • a bouquet of fake flowers to represent what I've learned about dating... or maybe about not dating
  • a leopard print visor to represent the traveling I've done
These things are easy to talk about, but that's not all there is to my story.
  • a Hawaiian sarong to represent the beach where Karissa died
  • oven mitts to represent being burned by people I trusted
  • a Bolivian scarf to represent the women I met in Bolivia
(The guy wearing all these things looked absolutely ridiculous, which was perfect to set me up for the next part...)
Our stories are unique. No one's story will look like mine; it looks funny. But, if I was to leave these things in my duffel bag, then no one would know the real me. My friends get a glimpse of who I am by the parts of my story that I put on, and I begin to take shape. We can haul our stuff around behind us, or we can put it on and let it be part of us. Our experiences tell our story...
Jesus used people with crazy stories...
Levi the tax collector had dinner with Jesus. Jesus said "follow me!" It's not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. (Luke 5:27-31)
(Luke 8:26-39) A naked wacko became a witness... this man was demon possessed, came running up to Jesus without any clothes on and shackles on his ankles and wrists. Jesus cast out the demons, and, when the man pleaded to accompany Jesus, Jesus told him "Go home and tell how much God has done for you!"
All Jesus told this man to do was to tell about what GOd had done is his life. He asked this man to testify, to share about what was true for him.
When I tell my story, I talk about how Jesus wrecked my life. I am ruined because of my relationship with Him. Because I know Jesus, I am not the same. Jesus has broken my heart for the hurting people in this world...and at NCC.
The more broken I am, the more I understand God's heart for the world. Our Heavenly Father is grieved infinitely more than we are. He knows every piece of our story that hurts... He knows every student here at NCC, in all of Eugene, in all of Oregon, in all the US, in all of Bolivia, in all of the world.
I got to know some stories from some women who prostitute in Bolivia. I've seen their desparation and brokenness. I visited the brothels where they work. I watched guys hand them money to pay for sex. The next day, I ate lunch with these same women and they told stories of how they were afraid to go back to work that night because their friend was murdered in her brothel room. But if they don't go back to work, they can't make money. If they can't make money, they can't buy food. If they can't buy food, their kids don't eat.
It's their story. It's REAL. It's TRUE for them. It's softened my heart and changed my life. I've told their story and it's become part of mine.
It's OUR story.
My 3 challenges:
  1. Acknowledge the power of your story. Let it speak for itself. No one can discount your story because it is true for you. You are who you are because of who you were.
  2. Let Jesus wreck your life. Tell the hard pieces of your story and watch how people respond. People are waiting to find someone to relate to, who can understand parts of their story...
  3. Tell someone your story. Tell about the funny things, the hard things, the painful things. Tell how Jesus has wrecked your life.

8 hours later, I was a 'chaperone' at the campus Halloween Dance Party. I dressed up like a Christmas Tree and Kirsten was a Present. :)
I had to stay next to an outlet so I could plug my lights in, and we sat in a corner and lamented about how old we felt.




2 comments:

ryanmortinson said...

awesome. just what they needed i'm sure.

Violet said...

you are where you are for a God given reason and I am so very happy for you! thanks for sharing with us El! love you!