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God’s Story, Your Story, and My Story

February 27th, 2012by Sr. Marla Gipson

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about personal stories. Our personal stories don’t just occur all by themselves in a vacuum of our own inner landscape. In truth, there’s a part of that because it takes personal growth, inner reflection, desires, an awareness of ourselves as individuals to understand, name, and claim our story. But all of that inner stuff lives in an objective world of other people, families, communities, places, cultures and events. Our journeys happen in places and times with other people. We are shaped in a context, in interrelationship with others. Sometimes we forget that. Our stories can become all about ourselves and no one else.

I might be tempted to say, “So what? We all know this.” Or maybe I have just taken this observation of our subjective and objective worlds for granted. Yet lately, this deepening reflection and awareness that we are inner and outer human beings seems to have captured my attention. I want to ask this question: How much of my inner landscape is out of whack without the nourishment of rain, sun, warmth, even coldness and darkness, and all those things of the objective world that nurture us to thrive as God would have us to thrive? If God wants us to thrive, then what for? It can’t just simply be for our own edification. We all know this, right? Love God above all things and your neighbor as yourself. I think loving neighbor as ourselves is somehow intertwined with our subjective and objective worlds. We each need to figure out what it means to love our neighbors as our self. We can’t do that in isolation. Nor can we do that in a crowded and noisy room.

I am reminded that ever since Vatican II, the Church is understood as the people of God whose primary focus is to be centered around the person of Jesus Christ. Our personal stories come out of our first and primary baptismal calling as a member of the body of Christ. Our real story of who we are comes out of a life-long endeavor of taking on the mind and heart of Jesus. Does not reflection upon our baptismal identity in Christ call us to enter more deeply into the heart and mind of Jesus? Does this reflection ultimately lead us into the work of building the kingdom of God in the world? After all, ministry is that one defining characteristic of how we embody in word and deed who we are and whose we are.

These are our most basic questions and they have to be answered both internally and externally by each one of us. Sometimes it’s just good to leave the treadmill of life for a bit and take a step back. Reflection upon the basic meaning of our existence as Christians can never be exhausted. The quality of our ministry as builders in the kingdom of God depends upon it.

Sr. Marla Gipson

Sr. Marla Gipson C.PP.S is a Sister of the Precious Blood. She currently lives in Minster, Ohio with a local community of Sisters where she ministers part-time as a Pastoral Associate at St. Augustine Church. She also ministers part-time as a Religious Education Consultant for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in the northern area regional Office of Evangelization and Catechesis and serves as one of the many Course Instructors for catechist certification. She holds a B.A. in Sociology from Ohio State University and an M.A. in Theological Studies from the University of Dayton.