What will the world miss?

There is a small statue that sits on the bookshelf just above my computer.

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It was given to me many years ago by a teenage girl during a conference I was attending at a recovery and rescue center for teens.

She was young, only 14 years old. I watched with curiosity as she walked to the podium. Standing behind her on three tiered risers stood her fellow residents, teenage boys and girls ranging in age from 12 to 18.

Anticipation filled the room with quiet…you know, the kind where one can hear a pin drop. It provided ample space to hear her well. I listened intently as she put words to how she came to be a resident of the home. She shared her story.

My heart felt torn. Half of me wanted to rescue her from that podium, hold her tightly to my heart and whisper how sad I was that she had gone through so much. The other half of me wanted to run from the exposure of the reality that she carried a burden of a story I was well familiar with.

In those precious moments of listening to her survival story I was given a gift of awakening to my own.

Several more teens stepped down from the risers to share their stories. They were fighting for their hearts, searching for hope in the spaces of their stories where survival came at a high cost. This home was their haven of hope, a place of rest and security that allowed them space and structure to come undone.

I was forever changed by my visit to their home.

In future weeks and months to come, God brought me into another community of storytellers, this time committed adults with generous and courageous hearts wide open. That is the place I met my faithful friend who welcomed me into her home and ministry, where I enjoyed the gifts of covenant community and hospitality for my heart…real people who joined me in the struggle to enter sacred spaces of my story and I in theirs.

In the years since I have received much to give much.

Last October, I attended Donald Miller’s final Storyline Conference.

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During one of the sessions, he asked a question:

“What will the world miss if you don’t share and live your story?”

The question followed me home, rolling around in my heart. My passion was reignited. I invited a friend to create a website to begin my dream of sharing my heart and my stories as a living reminder that Hope is alive.

She did. The space she created is everything I had hoped for and more.

I am ready to share it. I have much to say, much to give, much to create and much to learn. The future feels uncertain but one thing I am certain of…It is not crazy to chase your dreams AND it is never too late to take a step towards them.

I stopped typing for a moment to glance up at my statue and read for possibly the hundredth time the message it bears.

“We can weather any storm… A friend is someone who’s there for you, no matter which way the wind blows.”

I thought of the sweet and courageous 14-year old girl and my covenant community – living reminders of Hope and Love.

I finished reading the small printed verse at the bottom:

“Jesus is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24

Have you asked yourself the question?

What will the world miss if you don’t share and live your story?

If you haven’t – I hope you will – you might be surprised by Hope and encounter the friend who has stuck with you the whole way through it…

You might begin to chase your dreams!

photo-4Ellen Oelsen lives in the Texas Hill Country with her husband of 26 years. She is a mother of 4 children and loves their 2 dogs and 1 cat. Her hobbies include cooking, nature, reading, plays, and two stepping. She delights in offering hospitality of the heart and creating spaces of care, rest, play and reflection to inspire hope. She is beginning to expose the writer within her.