I say I want to know your story, but I haven’t even asked

When I look into your eyes, I can see your story.

But that’s as far as I get.
What is love?
What is kindness?
Where does my story stop and your story begin?

I’ve spent my whole life writing my own story.
I haven’t had time to listen to yours.

Why am I paralyzed in fear?
Why is it so hard to look past my story for one minute?
What is it that I’m scared of?
Am I scared that your story will be different, or do I fear that it will be the same?

I say I want to know your story,
but I haven’t even asked.

I can live with you for a semester and not even know you.
I can live with you for a lifetime and never even know your dreams.
I want to know you, I really do.

What story do I believe in?
That this is it, this is all?
Is there a heaven or a God?

Why haven’t I learned that your story is my story?
That when I ignore you, I discount myself.
When I’m scared of you, it’s really me that I’m afraid of.

If I really knew His love, would I be scared?
His love is supposed to drive out fear.

I want Your love to be my story.

This was one of my journal entries from March 31, 2006, in the middle of my religious and ontological crisis. I’m discovering more and more the importance of stories. Discovering more and more how to let His love be my story.

But these questions still linger, still hound me.

If I can barely make sense of things in my own head, how do I find the space to let others’ stories in?

Looking back, I can see these questions, in fact all of my journal entries from that year, were steeped in loneliness. A loneliness and an insecurity that led to hostility toward myself and others. A loneliness that I (and I think everyone) still struggle with.

I just finished reading Henri Nowen’s Reaching Out, where he speaks about the dichotomy between loneliness (a needy, grasping place) and solitude (a posture of secure identity and contentment).

He writes, “As long as we are lonely, we cannot be hospitable because as lonely people we cannot create free space. Our own need to still our inner cravings of loneliness makes us cling to others instead of creating space for them.”

This journey to love myself is also a journey to love others. To create space for others. To allow their stories to become my own.

I am striving for a spiritual life that “makes [me] so alert and aware of the world around [me], that all that is and happens becomes part of [my] contemplation and meditation and invites [me] to a free and fearless response.” Nouwen

God, please allow your love to be my story, so that my heart may be opened to others’ stories.

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