“There isn’t anyone you couldn’t love once you’ve heard their story.”

– Mary Lou Kownack

A year ago tomorrow, I was off to Portland, Oregon for one of the most exciting 3 days…the chance to attend the Storyline Conference hosted by author Donald Miller.  I reread my reflections from the conference (here and here, entitled “Swirling” and “Niche”) and am reminded of the learning, growth and questions that short trip provided.  Donald Miller’s book “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years“, his memoir of looking at his life as an opportunity for a new story filled with risk, possibility, beauty, and meaning, chronicles a path that has been foundational for me in the last year and a half.

Story is huge.  Creating a meaningful “story” with our lives.  Living a “story” worthy of our best.  Seeking to live into risk, challenge and meaning.  And almost more importantly, to seek out the deeper story with others around us.  Knowing the framework and story that scaffolds each of my students’ lives, for example, has given me more compassion for meeting them with understanding.  Seeking to help them live their own story, one filled with big dreams and goals, has taken over my language and interactions as of late.

Seeing the quote by Mary Lou Kownack above has been another layer of reminding….another chance to breathe in and out, focus, recenter my heart and mind, and know that loving those in my path, however hard, has to be my “finish line”.  Running this day to day  race is often a long slog.  But finishing strong, not necessarily “winning” in the most traditional way, must be about loving well.  Knowing the story of others.  Understanding that their “starting blocks” that begin “their race” are often quite different from mine.  And then using that story to reframe my emotions and responses.

God, give us grace and strength to come alongside those we encounter, not just to compete against one another or conquer and win the race, but to run alongside.  To know each other’s paces.  To enter into the fear together.  And to love.

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