Your Story in Six Words


Is there a six-word memoir you are holding on to as your identity? What if Jesus, the ultimate storyteller, were to write it instead?

“I have called you by name; you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1b (NLT)

There’s a legend I love about Ernest Hemingway. Folklore says he was in a restaurant when someone challenged him to write a story in only six words.

If I were a betting girl, I would have sided with the men at the restaurant, believing it was impossible to have plot, character and conflict in only six words. But Hemingway won the bet with this short story: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

It’s an interesting exercise to think about your life as a six-word memoir. What would it be? Which six words would summarize any seasons or truths about your life? I can chart the timeline of my adult life through a series of six-word memoirs. When I was a teacher, my six-word memoirs might have been:

Life is like a lesson plan.

Always crafting my next bulletin board.

Teaching the next generation to read.

As a brand-new bride, perhaps my six-word memoirs would have been:

I look 12 in wedding photos.

Crockpots are a bride’s best friend.

When my children were born, as I stepped out of the classroom and claimed my role as mom, perhaps my six-word memoirs may have been:

Goldfish crackers. Board books. All day.

Again with the laundry and cooking?

Please, can it be naptime now?

Yet, everything changed one December morning in 2010, when my husband passed away. He was sick for only 12 hours before he died. He was here, and then he was gone. I was 31 years old, my children were 5 and 3, and suddenly my world was torn apart. Overnight, I became a widow.

I became the single mom of two small boys who were now fatherless. My brain was consumed with the tasks of getting out of bed and fighting depression and post-traumatic stress with every ounce of my being. Perhaps my six-word memoir for this dark season may have been one of the following:

How on earth did this happen?

Widowed mom, trying to wake up.

Winter, winter, winter, winter. No spring.

I wasn’t ready to say goodbye.

I still have things to say.

In 12 terrible hours, my roles changed. My definitions became unclear. I felt as if the entire world had tilted on its axis by about 30 degrees. So much of my identity felt suddenly and terribly missing. Few events create such a fertile petri dish for insecurity more than a deep, sudden loss.

My loss was my husband, but perhaps you know a loss of a different kind. Perhaps divorce — a death all its own, coupled with crippling rejection. Or the loss of a job, a friendship, respect or innocence. We each have our stories. Sometimes life is impossibly hard, and this world is the scariest place to be when you no longer know who you are. Sometimes, a person can get deeply caught up in what she is instead of who she is.

What defines you as a woman? Is there a six-word memoir you are holding on to as your identity?

Wishing someone could call me Mom.

I’m the family’s big screw-up.

I really thought he loved me.

Credit cards maxed. Nothing else left.

Living the dream I didn’t want.

This diagnosis will swallow me whole.

This loneliness is now my life.

But what if Jesus, our ultimate storyteller, were to write your six-word memoir? Maybe it would look something like these:

You are mine; you are enough.

You: Beautiful, cherished, seen, known, loved.

You are welcome here, beside Me.

No matter how you feel from day-to-day and moment-to-moment, God reminds us in Isaiah 43:1b that He knows your name; you belong to Him. He sees your every move, and there’s no place you can go where He won’t join you. He thinks about you, and He smiles over the idea of you. He will fight for you, and He has a plan for you. He is good. He is freedom. And He has a place for you: Next to Him.

When you’re facing an unexpected loss, take comfort in remembering He knows your name, and He’s writing this story with you.

Lord, I thank You that You see each one of us, that You know Your daughters and You call us by name. Thank You for delighting in us. May we see ourselves with Your grace, Master Storyteller, and may we embrace the story You are writing. We want to honor You with everything. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Zephaniah 3:17, “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” (NIV)

If Jesus were to send you a very personal message that speaks to your questions of who you are, what might He say? What six-word memoir might Jesus write about you?

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