Deserved is a word I don’t like much. People will loosely bandy about the word in glib applications, in a “but of course” kind of manner. You know the type of use, that “you deserve” that prize, or job, or token of recognition. After a conversation with a cancer survivor the word took on the question of having “deserved” that? Was it a punishment, to have done something that was so egregious that cancer was the thing that was “deserved? To make a list of this type of result will set you back if you think about it too long. Children stolen off of the street never heard from again. Soldiers that come home and those that don’t. Those that do, but are not as when they were deployed. Is “deserved” the result of some cosmic lottery pick that they have been given? There needs to be a better thought.
When the issue of an ordeal of some nature, larger than your own actions have brought about, the phrasing matters. So too the issue of the capricious nature of all that is involved in the timing and choices by people that are involved. One moment more, here or there, that would have altered the timing in such a simple and yet profound manner. To say that you can know that a moment lingered, and a choice made will have made the difference, is to miss the idea that the lingering resulted in a different consequence. Did you “deserve” to have your home burned by the fire set by the camper which got out of control when the wind came up strongly? Or the choice to not tie down the stove on the trailer, which bounced off when you hit the bump in the road, which then was hit by the motorcycle? Who deserved any of that? So I will shift the conversation.
You are “worthy of the story”. This will change the entire thing. I did not deserve the illness, wreck, home of peace and contentment, joy, gift… I am worthy of the story that it produced. To see things from a position of worth is to then walk humbly into the telling of it. I was worthy of the story of cancer, not the deserving of the cancer. I am worthy of the story of the survival, the talent, the wounds. You may have noticed that the “worthy tale” is only a short conversation away, from your neighbor and friends, if you will but ask, and then listen. To hear of the childhood, the incident, the pain, is to know that there is more to be told and that if you stop at “deserve” you end up shallow in pride, or deep in resentment. Comparison then comes along and you are left with shame if your story is not as bad as theirs but they are pleasant, or haughty acceptance of the reality that you are leading a charmed life with no struggles and that is what you “deserve."
To be worthy of the story is to be able to see it from a different perspective. A friend had a 13-year-old son that died of brain cancer. During a discussion with a mutual friend the topic of “why” came up as you would expect. The lament of “how could God get any glory from this” was met with the reality that the outpouring of love and support from friends and acquaintances from around the world is a result of a larger story. This is not about you, but rather about the story that you are a part of. It is about the friends, some that you will yet be introduced too, and their friends. It is about the going to places and seeing things that you would not have seen. It is about hearing the stories of others that are “worthy of their story” as well.
To shift to a mindset of being worthy of the story is to know that the loss or the gain is not all about your doing or lack of doing. It is about how it is met, what happens as a result, and how that new chapter of the story relates to the ones that you interact with. The loss of a child, or a friend that chose suicide. The divorce, remarriage, new job or the loss of one, they all seem to fit into a different place when you add this lens. This shift from “about me” to “including me” is clear and stark when you look back at time before this shift. To become a participant is to also take on the challenge of the player, rather than simply the pawn in a game that you still are learning the rules of, and which seem to continue to change.
Perspective is a big help, but to see it as a continuation of the story rather than simply an ”event out of your control” makes things work better. When stage actors do “improvisation” the goal is to say “Yes” to what ever comes your way from the other players in the group. It is a mindset that is needed to create flow and to not run off the rails. So too, when you are in the game of life, things that come your way may be unexpected or from places which are a surprise. To let that take place with an accepting attitude that will continue the movement is a choice, but also needs practice and discipline. As you get better at allowing the event to simply be a part of the “worthy story” your ability to flow with it improves. That is not to say there is no sorrow or pain, that is still very much a part of the story. It is the place that equals us all and forms the insoluble bonds welded by tears. But to stop and cry out at the “injustice of it”, is to pull off into a cul-de-sac of victimhood and to remain there, brooding, angry and unproductive. It will become part of the “worthy story” and it will be called “the dark period” when it is told (so it is not wasted), but it can be shorter if you will lean in.
To understand the value of this shift is to put in place the requirement to tell it. Not to everyone, some will misuse it. But to be willing to tell the story, and the part that you play, is to give permission to others to begin their journey with a new mind. To see themselves as part of something more than an event. To tell of the process rather than the stopping. To have gone to the hospital is not the end of the story. To tell of the nurse or the others in the waiting room, or the ones that came with you is to acknowledge their role in the story that is worthy of the telling. To be a bit player in another person’s story on the way to the hero position in your own is how life takes place. Be your own hero and take the journey of discovery. To discover the history of your walk which includes the bandages and the scars which tell of the day or the events on the way to today and speak to the potential for tomorrow’s events. If your journey requires a trip through hell, then walk through like you own the place.
Becoming Worthy of the love for your own story is in truth, part of the journey. Today is a good day to begin this new endeavor. To embrace the story that you are worthy of. To invite others along on this adventure into tomorrow, and to sit around the fire. To listen to and to tell of the dragons and losses. Of wins and new friends. To taste of the sorrows and the bitter wine of dry lands, told as a survivor and not a victim. Of one, you, that is worthy of the story, and the telling of it.