Tell your kids about ME. Put these stones here, where they will see them. And when they ask: ‘what are these rocks? Why do we have this big pile of stones here?’ Then speak. Tell them of the day I parted the waters so you – all 40,000 of you – could be free. Could walk toward rest. Tell them the story of that day so that would know who their God is.
I read that story in Joshua this morning and I keep thinking about how terribly vulnerable it must feel to have a pile of rocks laying around that likely represent one of the most sacred days of your life. That anyone could see and ask about at any time.
I have these moments in my soul that I can see as clearly as if they happened yesterday. Moments when I was pulled back from the waters myself, when I was delivered in some miraculous way and time slowed down and I was as sure of God as I have ever been of any thing.
But those moments of deliverance aren’t all stories that I want to tell the neighbors kids. Ya know? They’re deeply personal. Precious in a way that precious doesn’t quite capture. Sacred.
So I feel this tension. I want these stories declared. I want them caught in a pile of stones by the door and I want to share them, I want them out of my soul and heard by some other ears so that when this brain and body give up they are not lost to the world, and the people inside my stories are not lost with me.
But at the same time, what is the place? Over dinner? Pass me the salt and also – let me tell you about the most vulnerable seconds I’ve lived? Let me hand you the bread-rolls and hey – here are some pieces of my soul?
I asked a friend this very question this morning. And she said to me that stories have different places to belong. Some stories are just for her. And some stories aren’t ready yet. Aren’t ready for the air to brush up against them. Aren’t firm enough to be handed off to another’s hands. And some stories – are for sharing with the right people – the people who have earned vulnerability not through their flawless record but through consistent authentic mutual relationship.
I think – when I’m honest – I have stories that are ready, but I’m not ready. I’m afraid to trust them into listeners. Afraid of their reactions, and how they might respond. What if they move on in the conversation, not understanding these moments and how essential they are to my standing here – on this side of the Jordan? What if they try to offer help or commentary, or try to re-shape my stories in their hands?
And there’s another thing – does anyone else get how terrible vulnerable it feels just to ask someone to listen? How…embarrassing(?) it feels – to lift my voice and say – I have a story.
And there’s a part of me that wants to pull up the drawbridge up as soon as anyone gets close to the story – as if someone is trying to barge inside my soul and steal the stories from me.
Stories have been stolen from me. And it is true that once your words hit the air you are entrusting your words to another. They get to steward the story now. They get to decide if they will listen or conclude, they get to decide if they will hand the parts of you off to someone else. You can’t control that.
But that’s what vulnerability is. Stories are for stewarding. And I’m never going to be responsible for how someone else stewards my stories. I’m only responsible for how I do. They are indeed one of the most precious gifts I’ve been given. And they must not be used as currency to buy attention or try to get needs met. And they must not be hoarded like dragon’s gold kept in a dark cave.
They are my stones. Placed carefully and lovingly, ready to be evidence of the day that the God of us all lead me through the thing I didn’t think I’d make it through.