“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Your hearts are like my hands. Some days all they do is tremble. I am like you… I too at times am filled with so much fear.” – Anis Mojgani, “Come Closer”
I met my friend Brenda a few years back at a TWLOHA conference in Texas. She is a hard person to miss, as her heart makes itself apparent the moment she speaks. I thought of her this week because of one phrase that she uses at the end of so many of her blog posts: “I love you. I need you.” It struck me as I thought of the theme this week, that No One Else Can Play Your Part, especially because no one else has your story. Brenda is right. I do need you, and I need your story. Because your story is bound to my story, and what you do with your story affects what I do with mine.
So how do you share your story? What version do you find yourself telling? Is it edited, with the difficult parts removed? Do you add a happy ending? How do you treat those parts of your story that you are not proud of, the places in your past that you hope others do not see, or the ones you wish you did not remember?
What we do with our stories ultimately speaks to how we love and care for ourselves. It reflects how we understand what we have been through, how it affected us in the past, and how it makes us who we are today. How you handle your story is how you handle your heart in this world.
How we deal with those difficult parts of our stories is also how we deal with those parts of our hearts. We must care for them well, because our hearts are where our stories are written. If we ignore those scenes, we may never find the healing and resolution that we need. Of course the difficult parts of our story do not define us, but they are part of who we are nonetheless. If removed, we lose parts of our story, and, whether good or bad, they are part of understanding who we are today. The pieces of our stories, both the joyful and painful, are the pieces of our hearts, our identity. This is why our stories are sacred, deserving to be treated with kindness and compassion.
But I do not ask you to be kind to your story simply for you. I am asking for me because I see you. Do you know that I hear you? Do you know that I see you? I see the way you handle your story, your heart, and it speaks to me strongly, whether you know it or not. The way you treat your heart and speak of your story is what you encourage me to do with mine. Every time I look at my son and daughter I am hit with the reality that they learn what to do with their stories from their mom and me. The overwhelming weight of this paralyzes me some days, so I work hard to make myself remember, to remind myself that they hear me. I remind myself that they see me. They see and hear not only how I love them but also how I love myself. They know what I do with my own heart and with my story. I pray that they will learn from my mistakes, and I hope I will teach them to be kind, gentle, and brave. I hope they will find the courage to embrace their full stories, the heavy and light, the pain and the hope.
So please, I need you to be kind with your story. I need you to be courageous with your story. When you are, you help me be kind and courageous with my own. Be respectful of your heart, be kind when you stumble and loving when you fall. Know both your tears and your laughter, the things that cause you pain and what makes you smile. I know that, like you, my heart has both, so powerful and so real, and I know both need to be shared and known.
In loving yourself and your story, you will be caring for me as well. And I need it, because while life is beautiful, beautiful is not anywhere close to easy. Our stories are linked, yours and mine, and they are linked with countless others, both in our pasts and in our futures. How we love and care for our stories will speak volumes to how the people in our lives love and care for theirs.
Please, be kind with your heart and courageous with your story.
We love you. We need you.