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What’s Your Story?

Growing up, the one thing I remember above everything else about my grandfather was that he was a master storyteller. To use the lingo of southeastern North Carolina that he was so fluent in, he could spin a yarn with the best of ‘em. He would captivate an audience with a couple words and some timely inflection of his voice that would roll out like honey from the comb. His stories would flow like a forest creek:  bubbling back and forth, sometimes fast but sometimes slow, and carrying his audience on a meandering journey.

I have a fond memory of him visiting my middle school class at my teacher’s invitation when we were studying folk tales. He walked in in-character, wearing his muddy work boots and dusty overalls, and slowly made his way up to the front of the class. He wasted no time and dove headlong into one of his favorite timeless tales from the catalogue he had memorized:  Br’er Rabbit and Br’er Fox. Despite my typical middle schooler embarrassment, I couldn’t help but be gripped by the suspense with which he related this story I’d already heard at least a dozen times.

Apart from being a local legendary storyteller, he was a farmer. At one point, he was an elementary school principal after being a guidance counselor at a minority high school in the midst of segregation. He was a minister for more than fifty years and served more than a dozen churches within the fifty-mile radius of where he was born. After his retirement in 2012, he orated a memoir that was transcribed for each member of our family. And although he would never have admitted to much of anything special about it, every time I read it I am surprised by the stunning story I find. I believe much of his ability as a great storyteller stemmed from the dynamic story of his own life.

We may not all be skilled in the art of oratory. No, we may not possess the ability to hold an audience with our gripping words, but we are all skillful storytellers in our own fashion. Each decision we make is another action, and each person we meet another character. The dynamic shift from rough days to better days lays the plot of the story. It may be a trite cliché, but each day of our lives really is a new chapter we get to tell.

You tell the most amazing story every day that you live the life before you, and it’s a story that only you can tell. No other person you’ll ever meet can copy or replace your story. Your story has a purpose and a meaning written into the margins by the holy hands that formed you, making it wholly unique.

The Christian faith is made up of thousands and thousands of individual life stories. By and large, the Bible is a collection of fantastic stories with some nuggets of wisdom spattered here and there. From David to Samuel to Peter to Paul to all the unnamed characters, each of their unique stories forms the narrative that has shaped the world. The story you tell with your life has that same ability to keep changing the world. And because your story is utterly unique to only you, it is a story the world needs to hear.

Maybe yours is the story someone needs to hear to recognize his or her own. Maybe yours is the story that helps pull someone else out of the darkness. Maybe yours is the story that inspires the next generation of leaders, as hearing the story of my grandfather’s life led me to begin telling my own as a pastor. So, what’s your story?

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Josh Godwin

There a handful of things in this life I truly love: my God, my wife, my dog, my town, my Cheerwine. I also love ministering with teenagers to help them realize God's love and everything God made them to be.

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