Defined by story

“It's like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.”
—Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind

I have lots of stories in my head, about who I am, what I’ve done, what my life and its constituent pieces mean. Every one of my three (so far) tattoos has a story attached, but the one I will not always tell when strangers ask “what the tattoo means” is the story of my first tattoo. 

It’s a story that started out with one (complex) meaning, andnhas taken on new shades as I’ve grown. My stories define me, I define them, and the dialectic circle goes ‘round. That’s actually a really core piece of my theology—we have to keep telling our stories, but can’t ever let them get stuck. When we do that, we’re lost. It’s part of why the liturgical year means so much to me, and why I keep returning to the Bible again and again, even though I no longer believe about it what I once did. This opportunity to retell and re-examine the stories that are my heritage, to own them and live into and out of them, to define myself and them together in conversation, is incredibly powerful for me. The chance to hear and tell real and true life stories like this one, honored as part of the unfolding revelation of God, is a big part of what I love about Gilead Chicago

You can read about my first tattoo here, on the Braver/Wiser devotional page... you can even listen to audio if you prefer (or if you’re just curious what my voice sounds like!)

What are some stories about yourself, your origins, the meanings of your life that you have told? Have you ever looked back and renarrated a story—not changing the details, but only their flavor and relationship? What kind of power have you found there?