June 30, 2011

Tell Someone Your Story

"It takes energy and time and courage to bring the past up to the present, but we need to get things in focus for the sake of the health and balance of our children and grandchildren. Find a listener. Tell your story." - Jean Belz, 1990

Upon returning to the office after General Assembly, I felt a bit of a letdown at having to sink back in to office life after an exhilarating week of being a writer. Being a legal assistant again felt a little restricting.

Then, just as I was beginning to think, "This isn't as much fun as it used to be," one of the men in my office plopped a book on my desk and said, "Here, this is for you, a gift." Since books and gifts are two things I like very much, this gesture was a nice surprise.

The book was Tell Someone Your Story, a collection of short essays and letters published by Jean Belz's family to honor her 92nd birthday. Mrs. Belz has been having a posthumous impact on my thinking since last summer, and these little essays continue to inspire and convict me in all areas of life. She was a high-school educated mother of 8 and wife of a pioneering pastor. She spent roughly 50 years teaching English and mentoring students at a school in Iowa. For the last 32 of those years she was a widow.

"A mother must keep up her courage and believe in her boys even if she can't really trust them. They can't really trust themselves. But things are easier when we recognize this vulnerability" ("Boys to Enjoy and Love" - 1996).

From the grave, Mrs. Belz exhorts me to love my husband well, to believe the power of Scripture, to find joy in the daunting task of raising children, to pay attention to the subtle, splendid beauty that every season holds, and to write excellently. That last one really gets me. Her mastery of the English language, expansive vocabulary, love of words, and gift for crafting a sentence leave me feeling like a 5th grader with so much to learn. She focuses her keen eyes on seemingly mundane tasks and recollections, and through these she finds glorious insights.

"I know from years of experience that there are glories in January. Even on this dark day there are six finches on the feeder and another fighting for position...This is the sort of day that sends us to the sewing machine, to the furniture stripping, or to cleaning a closet as we put away Christmas decorations. Strip the halls of boughs of holly! Is it too dull? Then write letters - nothing is more appreciated or rewarding" ("January Again" - 1991). 

So, do your self a favor and nab this book from Amazon. Drink deeply from the well of wisdom it provides. Thank the Lord for the testimony and legacy of faithful, brave saints who invested their lives into others. Be inspired to act courteously, write well, keep up with your children, and delight in the stillness of winter. 

And then go ahead and tell someone your story.