Several years ago I read an amazing book. The book camped out in my mind for months after I finished it. I couldn’t stop thinking about the characters and the story. Certain lines would flash across my mind at different times and I would stop what I was doing and take a deep breath. It’s not everyday a book grabs your heart like that. There was just something real, raw and so true about it. ‘The Book Thief’ made me see life a little differently. It is by far, one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read and tonight I got to see it. A movie was made of the book, as it is inevitably done with all good books – for good or bad.
I cried from the first scene all the way to the end. I remembered the way I felt the first time I read it and how it moved me. What was happening on the screen was wonderful and the actors did the book justice. But what made it even more meaningful was the part that wasn’t shown on the screen – the parts I knew that lay beneath the actors eyes, the parts that can only be captured with the written word. I had been in this story before and I already loved the characters. I had breathed in the words and they meant something to me because I was familiar with them – I was connected on a deeper level. That’s just what stories do.
I think the book got to me for a number of reasons – it’s a story that reveals the fragility and beauty of life and how important words can be. It deals with injustice, how the human spirit can prevail over evil, and true friendship. As I left the theater tonight, I realized that the main reason I feel so connected to this book is because it highlights how important it is for us to tell our own stories. No matter what you have experienced or what struggle you have endured, you must – in some form – tell your story. Words are a powerful tool that can connect all of us. The main character in the book lived through so many heart breaking, life altering things, but the power of the written and spoken word is what carried her through with grace and the will to keep living.
“When she came to write her story, she would wonder when the books and the words started to mean not just something, but everything.”
― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief
Tonight, Ryan and I sat down in an auditorium we have been sitting in for over 6 years and said goodbye to that space. It wasn’t a final goodbye, but a welcoming of change. Next week, we will be in the new area that will accommodate our growing church. A few years ago, our church made a promise to give generously so that others would find a seat here, like our family did back in 2007. That promise was carried out the last couple of years with the completion of two multi-site campuses and now the expansion of the main building. We celebrated by remembering the past and worshiping Jesus, who is the only reason for any of it. Stories were told of all the great things God has done in that auditorium and in the people who call it their church home.
Our pastor said something that reminded me of why I write. He said, “We mark moments by remembering and retelling our stories.” I think that’s what life and faith is all about. Through our joys, celebrations, love, and even tragedies and failures – our connection to other people comes when we tell our stories. It makes us feel less lonely in the world. We realize we are all the same screw ups with a common need for a Savior. Our connection with our Father comes when we retell what God has done in our lives. He is changing lives one story at a time. I am thankful to be a part of a church that sees the importance of telling our stories, so that THE ultimate story can be told and heard by as many people as possible.
As my friend and fellow writer so eloquently wrote, (go check out her blog here: My Life in Words and Pictures ) “Goodness and grace gets the last word in our world and in our lives and I am determined to remember this truth. My writing about these moments and taking these pictures is a testimony of God in my life. A witness to the truth that is all around me.”