By Janice Price
Without taking a moment to don my reading glasses, I pressed the buttons to change the television channel. I pressed the buttons again and again. Frustrated, I shifted in the chair so I was leaning closer to the TV set, squinted at the small numbers and pressed them yet again.
Then, realizing the problem – and relieved there were no witnesses – I laid the cordless phone down on the desk and picked up the TV remote. I pressed the buttons and this time the channel changed.
I used to laugh at the stories of the absent-minded person who put the milk in the bureau drawer and the wristwatch in the refrigerator, or who arrived at the store with the credit card bill after mailing the credit card company the shopping list.
Only yesterday I was reminded that in order to cash a check, I should write the same amount in numbers as I do in longhand. The teller kindly told me, “Don’t feel bad about it. We see a lot of this.” She did not make me feel any the less embarrassed, but she did let me know I am not alone in being absent-minded, in too great a hurry, error-prone, or pre-senile.
Pride often keeps us from admitting to others that we make mistakes, especially whoppers, although we seldom mind telling stories on others’ mistakes. Comics love to tell stories on anyone, even themselves, and the more outlandish the greater the response from the audience. But writers – Christian writers, in particular – often write about their own experiences, including their own mistakes.
We do this to encourage others. After all, we goof big time and survive. Bloopers are a part of life, even stupid or klutzy ones, and they are not the end of the world. Okay, so you were half-asleep when you dressed this morning and attended a meeting wearing a purple polka dot blouse with yellow striped pants. There are worse things that could happen than to be laughed at by the self-appointed office fashion police.
We also tell stories on ourselves to show that when God is an integral part of our lives, we are constantly learning, even in everyday situations. For the most part, we exist in the mundane, only occasionally rising to the mountaintop. God teaches me through my pets, daily tasks, friendships, health problems, setbacks, victories – basically, through any situation that arises. I have to admit I’m not always paying attention or quick on the uptake, but eventually I catch on to what God is trying to teach me. Then, I write about it and share the lesson with others.
The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think. Edwin Schlossberg.
Often I think no one bothers to read the stories. Most people do not take a moment to email a comment on a story, but then someone will write about what a specific story “said” to that particular person, and I will be amazed at how God has used a story to help, encourage, convict, or teach someone something.
I remember hearing something to the effect that a minister gives more than one sermon at a time: the one he thinks he is giving and the one the congregation hears. Yes, one sermon can “speak” one thing to the minister giving it and something else to each of the listeners. The same appears to be true of the written word. One story can make one person cry, another angry, another contemplative, and another encouraged.
The best example of skillful writing that makes people think is the Bible. People love it, hate it, eagerly devour it, or destroy it. They are outraged or inspired by it. It is often misunderstood, misquoted, and misapplied, but it is enduring.
The Word of God is living, strengthening, and enlightening. If I try to change television channels with a cordless telephone instead of the remote, I have an embarrassing moment and a funny story. But if I want to know God intimately, I can not substitute any or all of the books on religion for Scripture. Other books can be helpful, but there is only one Holy Bible.
© 2005 Janice Price