My friend Stacy always says: “story matters.”
Last night I had the privilege to sit across the table from seven amazing women. One woman fought for eight years to bring home her adopted son and daughter. One thought that once her son went away to college to could relax but then felt called to get a Masters in Theology and become a spiritual director. Another shared memories of a happy life that leaves her now a widow. Story does matter.
I planned these dinners months ago and picked out four questions to ask. Each woman was prayed for and personally invited to join us for a simple meal and good conversation. I knew we wanted a diverse group of women, different ages, different backgrounds, different stages of life. I didn’t know what to expect as I awkwardly made phone calls and pitched the idea of coming over for dinner to women I barely knew. I don’t know what made them say yes, it certainly wasn’t my charm, but many did. And last night was the third time I got together with other women from the parish and talked about life.
I heard about the [If] Tables about a year and a half ago when a group of fifteen women, from all different backgrounds and families, gathered for one thing: to get to know Christ better. We all huddled in our cozy clothes around a thirty inch TV to watch a live stream of a conference going on in Austin, TX: the [IF] Gathering. The conference sparked a thought in me about how we all have parts to play in God’s story of this world and it sparked the dream in me that I can gather women to journey together to Christ.
Stories matter. Your story matters.
A year and a half later I took that dream and gave it a home at Blessed Teresa and we started our own [IF] Tables.
Last night I threw away the questions as after an hour only half had introduced themselves. It was clear to me more than ever how simple and beautiful it is for us to share our stories. It didn’t matter if we thought our lives were insignificant or ordinary, we shared who we are and where we’ve been. I sat quiet for most the night as others conversed and laughed and interrupted one another when a common theme was mentioned; you never would’ve guessed how unfamiliar we all were when we first arrived. I sat and admired how God has allowed me to watch His story of love and redemption play out in the lives of these seven women in truly incredible and miraculous ways. Through loses and hardships to joys and hopes to consolations and blessings. I sat and was inspired by the not so ordinary lives of these amazing women and I wanted to know more.
God didn’t make us to be alone. He designed us to be in communion with Him through others. It is a great gift to deeply know another person. Not just to know their name and what they do, but to know their heart and their story. Each one of those women has attached themselves to my heart in a particular way that I could never forget them.
One of the questions I had ready to ask last night but never got to was “what makes a true and authentic relationship?”
Even though I didn’t ask it, it was answered: beef stew and biscuits, just kidding, though food helps. The openness and freedom that each woman had in knowing who they are allowed them to invite others in and made for many new true and authentic friendships.
Tell your story. It’s important, it’s you and it’s beautiful.