The other day, a friend of mine told me that she loved talking to me because, “you never got a straight answer.”
That comment just didn’t sit all that well with me.
It didn’t sit well because it implied that my answers were untruthful or that I evaded the question. My answers are always truthful, just maybe not what you would expect.
What I think she meant was that my answers aren’t ever what she expected. That rarely are they simply “yes” or “no.” That a simple question, such as “how did you meet?” can quickly lead to a story that doesn’t follow conventional patterns. I don’t give “unstraight” answers; I just tell the truth as I see it, which most likely is in the form of a story.
I come from a family of storytellers. Dinner table conversations while I was growing up often involved stories—about life, the day, the students my mother taught, that time those two girls got into a fight in the cafeteria. (There was a lot of slapping and hair-pulling. It was ridiculous!) Phone conversations between my brother and I often start with the simple phrase: I’ve got a story for you!
See, I look at life as a series of stories. There’s the big over-arching story God is writing about your life and there are the everyday stories of everyday events that give life its color and spice. Stories teach (like the story of when my brother tried to go to school without putting on his shoes or the time my dad jumped off the ladder of the grain bin in the middle of a thunderstorm thinking he was closer to the ground). Stories tell us who we are, like my parents’ stories of when Jason and I were born, how small we were, how close they came to losing us, how much they loved us and wanted us, and how they dedicated our lives to God and handed us over to Him, like Hannah in the Old Testament. Stories remind us of where we come from, like the story that comprises my brother’s one memory of our great-uncle Henry (it involves exploding eggs) or the stories I’ve heard about the grandfather I never met, stories of integrity, humor, quiet strength. Stories make us laugh, like the stories of me ending up on dates without knowing it (more than once!), stories of how bad I am at flirting (even my mom says I need a class), stories of falling down and getting up again. Stories remind us that we’re not alone, that we’re not forgotten, that life is more than drudgery. Stories teach us about love and grief, relationships, and life.
Stories are life.
So, like it or not, I’ll continue to give my non-straight answers. I’ll continue to tell my stories. Because at the end of all things, it’s the stories that last. It will be the story of the life I’ve lived that will be my legacy.
And to paraphrase from the words I spoke to my senior class on the day we graduated from high school, I hope my story has touched your heart as much as your stories have touched mine.
The end. For now.