I know this may end up offensive to some, but I pray it won’t. I want to share with you a truth that probably helped me more than it should have. It’s a one sentence thought that you probably can’t ever say out loud but if you plant it in your brain it may help you to make it through a lot of different situations. It has me. It may even keep you from quitting at a real difficult time. So, with that preamble, are you ready?
“Someday this is going to make a great story.”
Yeah, I oversold it. I remember the first time I had that thought. An African-American lady (knowing that does matter for the story) had responded to the invitation. It’s a long story and I won’t share all the little facts that make it one of my favorites, but one line stands out. She said: “My name is _____ _______, I’m Marylin Monroe reincarnated.” At that line, spoken quite loudly, three rows of teens began to try to hold in their laughter. Forget the theological impossibilities of her statement, this rather large, dark-skinned, woman wearing a blonde wig would never have passed for Miss Monroe. And, whether I should have or not in my mind I, for the first time, thought, “someday this is going to make a great story.” And it has, but since then I can’t count the number of situations that began and I started my mental recorder because “someday this is going to make a great story.” Sometimes the situations are funny, sometimes sad, sometimes difficult or even painful, but always one that I know I will recall, learn from, retell, and use to make me better at what I do.
Whether it was the person who asked me to exercise a ghost from her house, the 3 year old who pulled a loaded gun on me, the 90 year old stormed out of the church building during a prayer with a spoken word of profanity, the time I preached a funeral for a person who I realized was actually sitting in the audience, the elder who picked up a chair to throw at another elder, the middle aged man who kept insisting with finger pointing at me “you be quiet,” or 80+ year old woman who kept introducing herself to people where I was preaching as the preacher’s wife. Whether painful or painfully funny, I can be bitter, hurt, and halted, or I can use the experiences of ministry to make me stronger, more fit for service, or simply better I what I want to do.
So next time something is happening that is hard or hilarious, think to yourself, “someday this is going to make a great story.” I’m pretty sure it will make whatever this situation simpler to endure. Smile, learn, but, don’t quit.