It was a typical, lazy Saturday afternoon. With fresh coffee in hand and my blue snuggy wrapped around me, I settled into my cozy recliner. America's Got Talent was on TV, and I was relieved to be enjoying the weekend. Little did I know, that simple TV show would help me to reach a deeper level of understanding about life and the human experience.
One of the contestants on the show was a previously homeless comedian. His story was absolutely powerful. He jokingly reminisced of a childhood where his mother made being homeless feel like a fun adventure. He also shared an adulthood where he found himself walking the streets of Los Angeles, homeless for the second time.
I wondered to myself, "How many nights did this man have to make the difficult choice of choosing courage and humor instead of giving up?" I listened intently as he owned his story and infused it with transparency, sincerity, humor and unshakeable gratitude.
His storytelling wasn't defeated; his words were accepting, powerful, motivating and vulnerable. I instantly loved his spirit and couldn't control the happy tears which ran down my face. His attitude was just so amazing. I wanted him to win...badly.
I sat there reflecting on my own childhood and the experiences which shaped me into the woman I am today. Some experiences were good; others were pretty painful.
I also thought about all the friends who loved hearing me tell a story. They'd say, "Let Lish tell the story; she'll make sure we get all the details!" or they would jokingly say, "If you're telling Lish a story, you better describe everything from start to finish; she likes knowing what, when, where AND how."
It was true. I loved a good story.
I believe stories are what makes us unique. They shape us in the same way that pottery is spun and molded into a work of art. Sometimes the pottery is bumped and bruised during construction, leaving the finished pottery with tiny nicks of imperfection.Amazingly, once it has time to cure, it can still serve it's intended purpose. As can we.
The ability to own our transformation and everything that goes with it is both powerful and freeing. We can tell a story of brokeness, despair and poor choices or we can tell a story of hope, wisdom and blind faith.
What I realized is that we must own our story, no matter how tragic it may feel. Once we own our story, we can then decide how to share it...Maybe even how it ends.
The shame, regret, and guilt which often results from us hiding a troubled history is usually far worse than finally accepting it as a part of who we are. I've discovered that when I muster up the nerve to share my story, someone else almost always reveals a special incident from their own story. They're usually relieved to know they aren't the only imperfect soul.
It's rather a funny thing. Most of us know we are imperfect, yet we're still afraid to reveal the imperfect parts of ourselves.
Much like the comedian on the show, our stories may be tragic but they're also powerfully uplifting, motivating and redeeming. They provide realness in this often artificial world. They connect us, heal us, grow us, and make us thankful for our struggles. They create an avalanche of truth whenever they are shared.
Through a rawness that can only be felt through transparency and a spirit of victory that can only be gained from struggle; our stories let others know they can thrive in spite of the odds.
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