Why you and your story are all-sufficient

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There has been a lot of talk about Oprah Winfrey’s interview in the August issue of Vogue magazine. I was particularly impressed by her comment that she made a fortune being herself. She reiterated in effect that she does not have a persona that is different from the person she is. She is authentic, in other words, and her authentic story has rewarded her well.

I am suggesting, or paraphrasing, that Oprah found a way to share her life story and people responded positively. There is a story in the Gospel of Mark chapter 6 where Jesus went to his hometown and into the local synagogue. The townspeople marveled at his wisdom initially but soon scoffed at the whole idea – because well, “he is nothing special, just one like his brothers and sisters and any of the kids around here”. In perhaps another version of this story in Luke 4, the townspeople drag Jesus out of the synagogue and would have tossed him down a cliff had he not somehow escaped.

The point is that this is Jesus’ story and it does not appear to have a happy ending. I suspect many of us would like happy endings to every episode in our life story. I am also suggesting that often we embellish our stories or choose not to share them because of those not-so-happy chapters.

Indeed, everyone has a story. Life is a continuous story with ups and downs, corners and detours, mistakes and even foolishness in some places. The temptation is to seek to paint a rosy picture of the journey, as if rosy means soft only. We know, though, that even roses blossom from stems with thorns. And talking of thorns, the apostle Paul mentions in his second letter to the Corinthians that he had “a thorn in the flesh” that was most unwelcome in his life. Yet, that did not deter him from the journey and sharing his story.

That is exactly what Jesus did after that discouraging episode in Nazareth. He did not give up or go into a depression. (I do that a lot of times – I mean, go into a depression).

When we accept and embrace vulnerability our life stories are authentic, stripped of the facades designed to project success, achievement, importance or significance and prestige. The world in turn responds, not because of a rosy outcome but because of the grace of accepting and embracing the whole journey as it continues to unfold. That is possible in a spirit of gratitude and humility.

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