Who Tells Your Story
One of my former students is here for the summer and working as my personal assistant - for those of you who laughed, jokes on you when she starts writing my blog posts. This is the kid who in my will receives my name and likeness to do with as she chooses. She's got a plan to name a wing or a library or a prayer chapel in a youth center after me. Honestly, I don't care what she does; I trust her to tell my story. She and her best friend have also been tasked with writing whatever ends up on whatever version of a tombstone I get - it's a fill in the blank:
Laura Hewett - she was pretty great except for ___, ___, and ___.
My story isn't over yet, though, and I'm spending the summer with Maggie alongside me to write advisory curriculum and a new theology textbook as well as improve my walking and walk closer to Jesus. Last night Maggie and her little brother came over to make cookies, and we had a beautiful conversation about how we are actively making steps closer to Jesus. Before her brother showed up to bake, we spent time praying together and talking about how and what to pray for.
I've been praying for miracles in my physical recovery and other things for a while now, and I believe God can do miracles. There's a tension in my theology that says I ought to faithfully ask for more when I don't see miracles happen and that I can't rationalize why God isn't fulfilling what I expect. In preparation for writing my textbook, I'm reading widely among theologians, and this week I've been challenged in healthy ways of how I rationalize my experience of God not doing the miracles I ask for through reading Greg Boyd. I was telling Maggie about how important it is to me to pray beyond my theology because I don't want "a God I can lead around" as the Newsboys say.
I was talking to my friend Carol on Friday about why I chose to write a poem last week, and she was significantly less impressed with me drafting that out in a day when she realized it's mostly allusions to Genesis with lines from Ezekiel, Revelation, the band Disciple, Elie Wiesel, and W. H. Auden all stitched together. I was expressing though that I was maxed out in my ability to articulate my full experience through a neat narrative. I still don't have that as I'm sorting through with God the connection between pieces of my life that contribute to my holistic health. There are layers of meaning in each of those lines from last week's poem as I'm figuring out how the hurt two of my friends in this community are going through is related to wounds I have from three years ago. And it'd be nice if I could walk again too.
There's a lot going on in my life. I'm a full, complex human being. I don't know what parts of my story Maggie will highlight when I'm gone, but I also know there are other kids who will tell parts of my story. Yesterday evening, I had a group call with three former students who are reading through a book on discipleship with me. We call each month and talk about how we're being intentional to grow closer to Jesus. We're only on chapter two of twelve, but I've been so encouraged by the insights of these young people who went out of their way to choose to be challenged and held accountable to growth in their faith. I learned so much from them this week, and I was especially blessed as Leah said, "Ms. Hewett, you aren't Jesus, and you can't disciple everyone," in the midst of a conversation about how all three of them were opening their eyes to how they could be not only discipled but disciplers.
I only have good stories to tell about these students, but that doesn't mean they are perfect children. I just know they are growing, and I relish the opportunity to celebrate their Jesus loving choices. I've seen each of them make mistakes, come clean, own up to the hurt, and repent - actually turn around - and choose Jesus in their lives. I do my very best to model that to them, and if anyone hears stories about me, I hope it's from people like Maggie, Julia, Brooks, and Leah. They've seen me make mistakes, and they've heard my heart in the brokenness and watched me grow from it.
Beautifully, these kids also pray for me regularly just as I pray for them. The prayer requests these particular kids share with me are so far beyond the "pray for my friend's dying cat" kinds of prayer requests I remember being shared among my friends in small groups when I was their age. They are going deep and looking honestly at where they are struggling and how they need support to make it through difficult seasons or find growth.
That doesn't mean there isn't a place for those dying cat prayer requests - because I'm about to ask you for the surface level requests that matter a lot to me too. I want all the masses out there on the internet to pray for the miracle of my physical recovery. I want to wiggle my toes, move my ankles, balance my weight on my own two legs without arms for support; I want to empty my bladder naturally, feel the signals inside my body accurately, and dance in the rain. Will you pray with me this week beyond your explanations and ask God to give me all those things with no caveats? Just ask for the good gifts and don't tag any justifications for if he doesn't do it into the request. My faith isn't shaken after six years of asking; it's only deepened. I don't need to defend God for not doing it last week, so let's ask again for everything this week.