On Sunday, while I sat on the floor coloring giant Disney posters with my children, I overheard my parents telling John what I was like as a child. There were a few chuckles, stories about the oddball things that would come out of my mouth, and the oft-rehearsed tale of my performance in the preschool Christmas pageant when I decided to have a seat right on the front of the risers instead of sing like the rest of the kids. I guess I was tired. I always did have a mind of my own.
As I sat with my own kids, coloring a mermaid’s hair, I smiled a bit. In some ways, those sentiments still ring true. When I’m done, I’m done – there’s no faking interest or energy level – and I still know how to make people laugh with my witticisms.
One of the things that’s fun about gathering as family or friends this time of year is when we can “tell stories on each other.” Remember the time you… I’ll never forget when you… They can be stories of promise, stories of laughter, stories of triumph.
I’m convinced these are important stories to tell right alongside the birth narratives of Jesus at Christmas. Not because our quirks and particularities need to be canonized; but because remembering is a deeply spiritual practice. In worship we recite creeds and pray the Lord’s prayer. We break bread and remember the night our Lord was last alive. In our homes, we can rehearse other remembrances. Remember that time our flight was delayed but we finally made it home? Remember that time you helped a stranger with her groceries? Remember when you were a kid and you decided to walk home from school, long before class let out?
Whether you’re a child or an adult, it feels good to be known. As a person of faith, we want assurance that we are known by God. The first couple verses of Psalm 139 speak to this knowledge:
You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
And, my personal favorite, verse fourteen:
I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Sunday wasn’t the first time I’ve heard my parents tell those stories from my childhood, and likely, they won’t be the last. But hearing about myself as a kid never gets old. Within these stories is a promise of who God is and what God’s done with me.
What about you? What stories could you tell, or could be told on you?