FARGO — Travis Solberg and I were recently on the “Throw Down” show with Maria Prussia on 95.9FM. Maria was so gracious to invite us to discuss Landon’s Light and so many important topics associated with Landon Solberg’s story and journey. Landon was a 12-year-old West Fargo boy who courageously battled an aggressive form of brain cancer until his death last month, and Travis is his father.
One fascinating part of our conversation, both on-air and off, was discussing the importance of sharing our story. There is great power, potential, beauty and health in sharing our story.
One of my mentors insisted on teaching me “the story you are not willing to share, is the story that still has great power over you.” I would be with this mentor and we would run into someone or someone would join us for lunch and he would say, “Tell Jon your story about ...” And if they left out some of the pain or hurt in their story he wouldn’t let them. He would highlight the part they were hesitant to share and guide them through those spots they were most tempted not to include. The longer time passes the more I realize how helpful he was to both the one sharing their story and those listening. Our highlights are wonderful but they truly shine in the context of our tough days, obstacles and failures.
As an adult, the more I worked with people both as a consultant engineer, leadership consultant and pastor, I discovered that behind our quirks and strengths, our personalities and preferences, our joys and sorrows, our reactions and inactions is a story.
As a consultant engineer for 15 years, I can tell you the first and last name of the most difficult client I ever worked with. I worked with him directly and, for a season, he worked with members of the department I managed. He treated each of us harshly and it discouraged and angered us. During a supper together, I watched how rudely he treated our waitress. Through conversation that night, I learned he grew up overseas in a very wealthy family with employees who cooked, cleaned and managed their household. It clicked; he treats those who work for him, whether a waitress or consultant engineer, the way he treated the household employees he grew up with (and probably how he watched his dad or mom treat them; as “servants” willing to do whatever was demanded of them).
He shared with me his marriage failed and now he and his ex-wife were trying to raise their two kids jointly and it wasn’t working out well from his perspective. I thought to myself, “This is not a shocker, at all! If you treat her as you treat others your marriage or co-parenting had no chance.”
Sometimes our stories “fail us” if we do not relearn healthier patterns. We will write the same chapter over and over, only changing the names and settings. Shifting our perspective and healing from our past is God’s specialty. Throwing our stories down, keeping them hid in darkness, and burying us with shame is Satan’s specialty. God’s loving invitation is to throw our stories down, revealing them to others in glorious vulnerability, and lead us into hope. We don’t move on from our story but God redeems our story. And through his redeeming grace he heals us and provides hope, help and direction to others. I love that. I am thankful for that.