Saturday, October 13, 2012

Everyone Has a Story

One of the speakers we heard from at the Re:Write Conference was a man named Peter Strople ("the most connected man in America").  I will be honest, before the conference I did not know who this man was. When he walked up to the registration table where I was working, I was immediately struck by his gentle tone and eyes.  He has a way making people feel like a friend right away.

During his seminar, he spoke about how each person we meet has a story.  He turned towards the cameraman and asked him to come on stage.  Now, I had seen the cameraman working behind the scenes and noticed his "rocker" type look (he really did look famous, but I thought he was just a "cool dude" cameraman with his black hair and black clothes).  The cameraman joined Peter onstage and he was introduced as Marc.  It turned out that Marc was a guitarist for the group Slash and has played before millions of people.  Marc is also a committed follower of Jesus Christ, and soft-spokenly told us of his love for his family and how he has loved getting to share Jesus with people he meets after his shows.

Peter's interview with Marc was powerful, because it reminded each of us that everyone around us is important. No, everyone may not be a famous guitar player, but they have amazing stories nonetheless. Peter taught me to stop, listen, and learn from the people around me.  He also taught humility and genuineness from example; it poured out from who he was.  When you meet Peter, he looks you in the eye, calls you by name, and remembers you. Who does that?!  :)

That seminar really impacted me, because I was reminded to notice the people I pass by on a regular basis.  I am now remembering that they have a story, and that I should stop and listen to them. 

-Like the mom at my son's school who I passed by every day. She was friendly, and we would say hi, but that was about it. Then I found out that she was going to have brain surgery because she had a tumor the size of a softball growing inside of her brain. If they couldn't get it out right, they might have to saw her jaw in half to get access to it through the front.  Suddenly she wasn't just "that kid's mom" - she was someone I cared about. I couldn't stop thinking about her, and so I started to pray for her.  (Her surgery went well and she is recovering). She had a story.

-I thought about the woman I met in my son's preschool class.  I sat next to her during the Mother's Day tea.  We made eye contact and said hello, but that was it.  It turned out that she was an author and speaker who was making an amazing impact all over the world. We went out to coffee, and she encouraged me to step out in new ways that I was afraid of.  If it wasn't for her, I would have never gone to the Re:Write Conference.  She had a story. 

-I thought about a woman in my church who I sat by every week, who would kindly ask how I was.  We chit-chatted, but it was nothing big.  Then one day she told me her story. We became friends.  And then I held her hand as she passed away from cancer earlier this year.  She had a story.

Peter reminded me to stop and notice those around me, because just listening to their story can make a huge impact in their lives. It can make a huge impact on OUR lives.  So, who is around you? Who are you just passing by on a daily basis?  Whose story do you need to hear?  Stop and listen. Everyone has a story.

(Want to hear more? Read Julianna's incredible story here).

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