The Stories That Connect Us

Before I ever set foot in Hoboken Grace, I spent an hour or so perusing its website. Hobokengrace.com was drastically different back then, and there wasn’t nearly as much content as there is now. But I got sucked into the video page – or maybe I’d been rerouted to YouTube, I can’t remember – and watched stranger after stranger share their story.

The story videos were produced in almost the same format as they are today, just on a slightly smaller scale. Each person on camera had pulled up a chair and began telling their story with the same amount of vulnerability usually reserved for close friends. They shared their story with confidence, yet didn’t pretend to have it all figured out.

They spoke of loss, and heartache, and uncertainty, and I saw a little bit of my own story reflected in each one of theirs. They shared my fears, my doubts and the loneliness I was feeling in that moment. And then they talked about what happened when they put their trust and faith in God, giving everything over to Him – something I’d never really done before, but was finally ready to try.

Four years later, the stories on Hoboken Grace’s website still encourage me to continue placing my faith and trust in God – and there are a heck of a lot more stories these days. There are probably 10 times as many videos now, and a much bigger team producing them. And then there’s the Writing Team, which I joined as it was starting two years ago. Our team writes the blog posts people see when they check out our website or get signed up for Hoboken Grace’s newsletter.

In the past two years, we’ve published nearly 300 blog posts. They’re stories about seasons of waiting, and the people who ride them out with us. They’re stories about changing perspectives and shifting priorities, and when we begin to rearrange our lives as a reflection of that. They’re stories about finding community and the moments when Hoboken finally starts to feel like home.

It’s hard to read those stories – or to interview the people sharing them – without feeling encouraged and reminded of His promises. It’s hard to read them without being in awe of how God is working in other people’s lives.

You can see it in story after story: when things finally fall into place, or begin to make sense after months or years of uncertainty; when God reveals He has bigger plans for us than we do for ourselves; or when someone begins to find purpose in their pain.

I need these reminders in my life. I need to see how God is working in other people’s stories as a reminder of how He’s working in my own. I need to see Sunday’s conversations played out in the flesh – in my life and in the people around me.

So much of writing is about connecting the dots – beginning, middle and end – and seeing things come full-circle on the page. In reading these stories and in helping people share them, I see God turning messes into metaphors and using our brokenness to bring people back to Him. I see glimpses and reflections of His bigger story. And if you look hard enough, I’ve realized, you can find examples everywhere.

One of my favorite writers, Shauna Niequist, puts it this way:

“What writing teaches me, over and over, is that God is waiting to be found everywhere, in the darkest corners of our lives, the dead ends and bad neighborhoods we wake up in, and in the simplest, lightest, most singular and luminous moments. He’s hiding, like a child, in quite obvious and visible places, because he wants to be found. The miracle is that he dwells in both.”

One of the biggest misconceptions people often have about writing for the blog is they think they have to be an award-winning writer – or at least have some experience. The truth is, it’s more about being able to see how God is at work in our community and how we are all a part of His story. It’s about realizing we all share the same fears and doubts and uncertainties, and also the potential to make other people feel less alone.

Brittney is a member of the Writing Team. If you’re interested in checking out the team, you can email her at brittney@hobokengrace.com.

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