Story Work

This past weekend I went on a Story Retreat with the Look Inside ministry (Look Inside). Five women came together at a beautiful retreat center and we explored our childhood stories that have had a big impact on whom we’ve become as adults. 

Today I was listening to Psalm 103, put to music. And it feels like that Psalm sums up my weekend.  It’s a long Psalm so I won’t put the whole thing here. Here’s a link, you can go read it real quick: Psalm 103 

As a father has compassion on his children,

    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;

for he knows how we are formed,

    he remembers that we are dust.

Psalm 103:13-14

I would say Compassion is what I have been feeling. God’s compassion on me, first of all just to open the door for me to attend the retreat. I hadn’t made any plans to go, but at the last moment, was offered a free, already paid spot. And my schedule was open. And my husband was willing to hold down the fort. 

I felt God’s compassion to put me in a safe place with women who listened, showed compassion and respect, and spoke healing words. 

I felt his Compassion as I soaked in the beautiful surroundings: the everchanging sky, majestic trees, green fields and hills. 

I felt his Compassion as I ate delicious food prepared by someone else, planned by someone else, a much-appreciated break for a mom of a large family. 

I felt his Compassion in the kind words spoken to me by the other women. 

And maybe one of the most wonderful ways he showed his Compassion was at the end of a long day as we had all dug into hard places and done some hard work as we waded through the mess…at the end of that day we were planning to do something fun to decompress and out on our balcony we saw the most amazing beautiful rainbow I have ever seen. From our viewpoint, we were right in the center of the rainbow and it perfectly arched over our view of the lake and the hills. And then, a double rainbow appeared, And THEN, the rainbow just kept getting brighter and brighter and brighter and it lasted a LONG time. And it felt like a blessing being spoken over us as we stood and watched the colors shimmering in the air. 

But from everlasting to everlasting

    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,

    and his righteousness with their children’s children—

with those who keep his covenant

    and remember to obey his precepts.

Psalm 103: 17-18

I feel renewed. Refreshed. (Though I will qualify that, some of it is the refreshing you get after going to the dentist. It was painful, but necessary, and things feel a lot better afterwards!) 

I also kind of feel off-kilter, like the day after a funeral, but also, like the day after giving birth. Because really, that is what story work is about. Naming and mourning what was taken from you. And then walking into new hope as you learn how to step out of those dangerous mindsets that entrapped you so early, and step into a more truthful and healthier way of doing life. It was hard work and it was wholesome work and I feel the goodness of God for allowing me to do it. 

“Bless the LORD O my soul: and all that is within me bless his holy name.” Psalm 103:1 (KJV)

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