America is such a baby.
As a junior at Penn State, I realized this first hand when I moved to Cologne Germany to study International Marketing. The facts may have been spelled out in my history books. But something clicked when I visited the place. If walls could talk?
Cologne, Köln, was largely destroyed in the bombing of in WW II but by 1959 it returned to it’s pre-war population making it a bustling metropolis and the 4th largest city in Germany. When I visited in 1981, from my perspective, things were just old. Houses were old, the cobbled streets were old, the university was old, the shops were old. The spectacular cathedral, Der Kölner Dom, was constructed in the late 1200s. Old.
An Arrogant Mindset
Back home, we were enjoying all things new, like cable TV, and variegated shag carpeting inspired by the the age’s modern family, The Brady Bunch. While I loved my time studying abroad, I didn’t always find the old charming. Mostly, I found old inconvenient or behind the times. I’m embarrassed now as I notice my somewhat arrogant mindset. America is such a baby.
In the late 1990s this truth was reinforced when, I moved again to Europe — this time Edinburgh, Scotland where Doug and I were married and Ian was born. Doug was a youth minister at Colinton Parish Church. This beautiful old parish was the home church of Robert Louis Stevenson and the place that inspired much of his writing. The swing hung in the courtyard that held his very tush.
As a new mom in this “old-version” of living, it felt as if I was playing house. I hung my clothes on the line to dry. I walked my newborn in a pram while shopping for grocery items in the village. And even abandoned my sleeping child on our front stoop to not risk the pram to crib transfer. The talk of the town was the big Safeway that moved in, threatening the local fruit-monger, the baker and the butcher. And… the promise of cable TV had everyone buzzing.
A New Respect
I’ve noticed from our most recent trip, I find that I appreciate history more. Perhaps in my seasoned years, I respect “old” more. Old is indeed charming. Well, except when the internet is misbehaving. I am fascinated to learn about the lives of real people that came before. What clues did they leave?
The Value of History
I like to think of history as the story we tell the future about the past. In my view, history becomes most useful when it helps to inform the future. If only history’s account was always objectively and accurately reported. If only walls could talk.
While visiting the Alhambra, 1000 year old Moorish royal palace in Granada Spain, the history I found most fascinating were the juicy facts. The facts that don’t make the colorful brochure — for example, the harem quarters with windows that see out, but not in, to house the many concubines. If only walls could talk?
While in Southern Spain, for a break from the typical tourist site-seeing, we planned for a day to hike the Sierra Nevadas. Without Ian and unencumbered, we set out to find the hanging bridges of Los Cahorros. Unbeatable views, waterfalls, caves that you crawl through, and narrow paths that run adjacent to the rock face. A real Indiana Jones experience, the website promised which would be the perfect accompaniment to our airbnb cave dwelling.
The Value of those who have gone before.
The exhilarating hike didn’t disappoint. While taking us through some spectacular Andalucian countryside, I couldn’t help but be grateful to those who had gone before — the well-placed iron hand holds, the suspension bridges that crossed a vast gorge below. The hike meandered alongside an acequias (an ancient irrigation system) that dates back to Moorish times. Even our hike was a history lesson.
Logging 22k steps on the fitbit and traveling most of the way single file, there was lots of time with my own thoughts. As I walked along and the hike got more intense, I decided I preferred being second. I wasn’t the guinea pig. I had the advantage of observing the one before me. When faced with a potential hazard, Doug would take his best guess. Following him, I could repeat his method, if it worked well. Or if it didn’t, choose better.
Our Reluctance to Tell
As you all have come to expect from me, I am transparent when it comes to my story and the work of the Lord in my life. I tell it like it is. The good. The bad. The ugly. On occasion well meaning people have chided me, cautioned me, and expressed their genuine concern. Some have recommended that I take care in my sharing. Wait for resolution. Use some forethought so as not to put God on the judgement seat. As if I should somehow clean up the truth so God is the indisputable victor.
I know of strong committed Christians whose priority is to keep up appearances so that their life matches their portrayal on social media. They keep life’s challenges private, all prayer concerns inside, all messy circumstances quiet until they can be packaged properly. All skeletons are best left in the closet.
What a waste. And what a shame.
What is your story?
Just as history, including it’s skeletons, is the story we tell the future about the past, the way I see it, your story is your personal responsibility, your personal contribution. I contend that honest vulnerability is a treasure and a person’s greatest asset. In a sense it’s our opportunity to install the iron hand holds for those who come after us. Our story becomes our greatest legacy.
Walls can’t talk. But you can.
Throughout scripture God tells His story. It begins in eternity past and stretches into eternity future. The story climaxed two thousand years ago when God entered His creation in human form. God tells of His love for His creation and His greatest desire– that His creation enjoy Him forever. With His amazing grace, God invites each of us to be a supporting character in His story.
What you were created for
Whether you embrace it or not, you were created for His purposes. You have the opportunity to join the greats… Abraham, Mary, Moses, David. Your life task is to step up to the role He has for you in the greatest story ever told. In a sense, that’s what you were created for, that’s what I’ve been created for.
The book of Joshua ends with this verse.
Joshua 4:24 24 He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.”
What a great example of the value and purpose of a story.
The power of Your Story
It’s the story that piques interest in the truth. It’s the story that gives strength to a faith. And it’s the story that makes trust possible. It’s true we can read about people of the bible and learn from their examples. But, consider this… Moses is walking through that desert ahead of you. He left the well-placed iron hand-holds and wants you to accept the baton to be an influence to your generation. You are needed to demonstrate the way.
Mark 5:19 “Go home . . . and tell them how much the Lord has done for you”
Never underestimate the personal impact of your story. Your story, in its raw form, transformed by the Holy Spirit, has power and purpose. Tell it. Then stand back and marvel at what God will do.
Don’t waste your chance. Tell your story. Get over yourself. Leave your legacy.
For His Glory, Debbie Hucke
Carlotta Emslie says
So, true! Thank you for being honest with all that you write and share.
Thanks Carlotta. Nice to hear from you.
Wow, your courage is boundless! The physical adventures, the depth of your spiritual and mental courage are an inspiration to all of us who are blessed to read and vicariously share in them. They give us a true historical perspective that we can draw from in our own life story and honest reflection of the past and it’s lessons learned and shared!
You are truly a gifted encourager! Thank you.
Thank you Pam! Since I’ve taken on the weekly writing challenge, God has been faithful to fill my head with ideas to share. I have been blessed in the process. So pleased to know how you benefit.
Ginger Horner says
I enjoyed hearing about your trip but especially how our history and stories mean a great deal. Yes, we all have a story to tell and yes, we do keep it inside, for the most part.
Our stories are ours and they reflect who we are and how we came to be, and how those influences affected us. Although, I admit, that this is fluid as we grow and change.
I have always loved history and genealogy. I have done a great deal of research on my family lines and continue to do so. It helps to learn who these people, that I am so connected to, were.
Your blog is always interesting, insightful and for me, this time, reflective. I am going through memorabilia (Stuff) and trying to decide what to save. So many memories!
Thanks for the reminder of what is truly important. We are God’s and we follow Him and that is what is most important.
Thanks for your comment Ginger. Knowing our roots is important. Learning from the mistakes of our roots even more important! May we be honest with our stories.
Anne Kole says
Thank you Debbie. Once again you’ve opened your heart and experiences and seen our Lord along the way. You are one of the most courageous people I know. I learn so much from you. You always point me to Jesus! I journal about scripture every day and I hope that someday my kids and grandkids will read these journals as my legacy and witness to them. Gods Story is the most important!
Amen Anne, Thank you. I think of late I’ve been realizing the value of showing my missteps. Sure makes me appreciate His grace. Im sure your kids and grandkids will appreciate your legacy!
Lynora Bayless says
Love your writing style Deb. It made me chuckle that people would chide you about transparency. If the Bible is anything—it tells the truth—the good, the bad and the ugly! It is thick with bodies on one hand and filled with love and grace on the other. It is real and raw. Bravo to you for following the iron posts of Scripture!
High praise coming from you Lynora– not only a writer yourself, but a faithful follower I’m proud to know.
Dr. Ify Achusim says
Good job, but wall can speak because it has ears, the problem is humans don’t understand there language. LOL.
Our stories are our personal identities, they grow our faith, empowers us and enlarge our hope to defeat the future. That’s why bible tells it as it is.