Sharing our Stories, Again

It may or may not be news to you that at EYC we start each year sharing the stories of our life with God.  I’ve written about our practice here.  It may seem redundant that we do this year after year, but here are a few observations I’ve made this year about repeating this practice.

  1. Re-telling the story of our life with God gets easier each time.  When we began this practice, the nerves of some youth were almost palpable.  After all, for some of us, it’s intimidating to try to say something true about ourselves to others, and especially to try to say something true about God’s role in our life.  For youth sharing their stories for the first time this year, it’s just as hard as ever.  But for youth who are doing this for the second or third time, their words flow a bit smoother, their bodies are more relaxed and less tense, and the whole practice itself seems less strange and more just a part of what we do as an EYC.
  2. Re-telling the story of our life with God teaches us about ourselves.  When we articulate our stories, we learn things about ourselves.  Sometimes we discover that the story we shared is really not as important to us as we had imagined – perhaps we had falsely built up its significance in our heads.  Sometimes sharing a story is like unloading a burden, and we hadn’t even known we were caring it.  Sometimes what we leave out of our story suddenly seems so glaringly obvious and important that we’re sure to share it the next time we tell our story.  For all these reasons, it’s a gift to return to this practice of storytelling each year.
  3. Re-telling the story of our life with God teaches us about God.  Of course, it’s not easy to talk about God.  Often times we’ve so distracted ourselves from the ways in which God is likely to show up that we’re at an utter loss to speak about God’s work in our lives.  Even when we have remained open and attentive to God’s Word and Spirit, it takes time to discern what God is up to in our lives – often years.  And as we tell our stories, these narratives about God’s work in our lives evolve as we attempt to say something truthfully.

Have you ever shared the story of your life with God with your child?  Have you recently heard your child share the story of their life with God?  If not, the next time you’re in a long car ride with your child, I encourage you to pursue these stories.  “Paul tells me you all shared your life stories.  So, what did you share?”  Expect awkwardness as these stories come out, not poetry.  But also recognize the gift and the growth in this awkwardness as we all grow in our discipleship to Jesus our Lord.

“He’s Got _____________ In His Hands”

By Paul Cizek, Youth Minister

One joy of our common life together as Holy Family’s EYC is to worship together on Sunday evenings, down in the Christian Commons, standing in a circle.  Because our worship is often done accapella, we utilize songs from traditions like Taize’ chants and African American spirituals.  During September, “He’s got the Whole World in His Hands” was part of our worship set.

Male pronouns aside, this is an awesome song, particularly because it allows us to improvise our own verses.  The first few weeks, we sang the scripted lyrics like, “He’s got the wind and the rain in his hands, He’s got the night and the day in his hands, He’s got the sun and the moon in his hands, He’s got the whole world his hands.”  But towards the end of the month we let the youth improvise the verses.  Anyone could come to the “improvising spot” in the circle and lead a verse: s/he would sing, “He’s got ___________” and we would respond, “In his hands.”  So on this night, God had “all the food,” “all the drinks,” and “all the desserts,” in God’s hands; God also had “the Duke Blue Devils,” “the UNC Tarheels,” and “the LSU Tigers,” in God’s hands; and we had much joy and laughter.

But the best moment of this worshipful improv came as a surprise to us all.  “He’s got all the creepy bugs in his hands; He’s got all of the snakes in his hands; He’s got everything that scares us in his hands; He’s got the whole world in his hands.”  Sometimes we get ideas in our head that take on new life when they come out of our mouth.  Perhaps this youth was continuing his “creepy crawly” theme when he sang, “He’s got everything that scares us,” but hearing and responding, “In his hands” seemed to bring home the full implications of those words.  God’s got everything that scares us in God’s hands.  There’s a lot of truth in that claim.  What comfort!  What an invitation to trust!  Surely, what a good reason to raise our voices in worship!