Saturday, July 30, 2016

A Story Larger Than Ourselves


My wife, Sara, took this photo in the late afternoon at a vineyard near Wilcox, Arizona.  What Sara, my girlfriend at the time, didn't know was that I planned to kiss her for the first time in that vineyard at sunset.  It was beautiful and powerful all at the same time, and Sara was definitely taken off-guard.  She tells me that she had butterflies in her stomach after I kissed her.  Wow.  Pretty fun, huh?

There's something else important about this picture.  We've titled this photo Into the Vineyard.  The picture is a metaphor for our life together.  We don't know what lies out there in that vineyard.  We don't even know what we will look like in the future - that's the significance of the shadows.   However, there is a story that will unfold, which we can recognize as such, if we choose to see our story as something bigger than just the two of us.  Dan Allender, Ph.D. explains that our stories belong not only to us, but also to those around us (To Be Told).  And, permit me to be a little religious here, but maybe our stories are even told of among the angels.

When our stories become larger than ourselves, there is an opportunity for small things to become more valuable than we could have ever imagined.  Washing dishes, physical affection, gift giving, changing diapers, a simple thank you, and eye contact become things which can change the world.  Even if no human ever hears our stories, maybe the angels do, and maybe this is enough.  On the other hand, our spouses generally tend to talk about us with their friends, family, and co-workers, so it is most likely that our desire to do goodness to them will be transmitted to others via conversation, and it is in this way that we influence the world.  Our small actions always have ripple effects.

One point of caution.  Our priority must always be to do good to our partner for the sake of doing good to them.  If our goal is to change the world, then everything will backfire in the end.  Ironically, we change the world by focussing on doing good to each other instead of trying to change the world.  It is an amazing story and a vineyard worth entering, despite the unknowns.