I love stories, I love listening, reading, watching and telling them. I love true stories and fanciful ones. I love the art of verbally conveying a tale using hand motions and facial expressions. I love telling stories through photography and painting and allowing the audience to come to their own conclusions. I love singing songs that share relatable story-lines so that the song becomes your own anthem.
My mother and grandfather were amazing story tellers. They knew how to navigate their listeners through winding tales captivating them the entire time and always delivering the punchline at the correct climactic moment that would leave the audience in awe or bewilderment. I would overhear my mother telling a familiar story to a friend on the phone and I would find myself sitting next to her excitedly waiting to hear the response of the person on the other line. Just like any art, the response of the recipient is almost just as valuable as the work itself. I once read a biography of L. Frank Baum, author of The Wizard of Oz and it told how the neighborhood children would gather around him on his porch just to hear him tell extraordinary tales. Immediately I had a deep desire to also become a wonderful story teller. Sometimes my stories drag on, I forget the point of the story or perhaps I am the only one to find something interesting, I am constantly learning what distinguishes a good story from a great one.
Yesterday's church sermon covered the 10th Commandment, do not covet. Coveting is likened to envying, wanting that which is not your own. It differs from jealousy in that jealousy is wanting something that is already yours. It was said that out of the 7 deadly sins, envy is the only sin void of enjoyment. Yet we still become ensnared by its nasty talons. We see something we want and disregard what we have thinking it is not good enough and are left with a never-satisfying-want. Rankin explained that one way to declaw envy is by changing the narrative, the lie that you are listening to. Instead of seeing someone's financial gain, relationship successes, or glamourous lifestyle and thinking, "what about me?" We must remind ourselves, "that is not my story."
A story with no tension or trials, or a story that sounds the same as everyone else's doesn't sound like a great story. Someone else may have a booming career while you are becoming a bargain ninja because you are stretching your paychecks to the breaking point. Another may have found love early on and you can't even get a cat to look in your direction. Or maybe you feel left behind because everyone else is on the fast track. Whatever their story may be, it is not your story. Your own story is full of amazing twists, turns and surprises. It is also unclear what trials others have had to overcome to get to the point that they are in as well (I always find it funny when I watch competitive reality shows and the contestants always say, "I've just gone through so much" as if they are the only one). Part of taking the sting out of envy is recognizing, valuing and being content with what you have.
I have heard of quips like, "sometimes the answer to unanswered prayer is no," and "whenever G-d says no, that means there is a greater yes around the corner." I am not sure why the answer is sometimes no, or why my story may look different than yours, but I do know that I can trust the author and perfecter of my salvation, life and story. Easier said than done, I can assure you. This past week has been rife with self-pity and thinking other's had it better. Though perhaps the hurdles, pits and hoops I am jumping through are all that is making my story great.