My friend AJ could sell an ice cube to an Eskimo. He’s a people person with an enthusiasm and positive attitude that will not quit. It’s like he has a magnet inside him that makes you want to be around him. I like AJ. I love talking life and faith with him.
One thing that has stuck with me for years is what he calls the “elevator pitch” plan for opening doors. Basically, you have to be ready and able to tell your entire story within the time it takes an elevator to get to its destination. Tell your story and leave an opening …
People living with chronic illness start to hate their story or at least telling their story over and over again. We want to scream, “I AM NOT LIVER DISEASE!” (or kidney disease, heart disease, lung disease) It’s pretty strange, we live our illness day after day. Not a single decision is made without consideration of our illness. Should I RSVP? What if I am having a bad day and can’t go? When friends call with weekend plans, we can only say, “We’ll see.”
Everywhere we go, people ask how we are, what our status is or what the latest medical plan is. Or, we can tell that they are purposely avoiding the topic. It’s awkward. They ask because they care and we know that but still, it’s another time when we have to paint a picture of ourselves through the lens of disease.
My story is a story of miracles. To this point, it is a story of healing and success. (I say “to this point” only because the reality for transplant recipients is that, though we survive, we are much more fragile for the rest of our lives. Each day is a gift.) My story is a story of amazing grace, rewarding faith, incredible support and sacrificial love. I know it has to be told. I know that locking it inside will point no one to the matchless, unconditional, unending love and forgiveness of my God. It has to be told.
I know that if you don’t get all the God stuff in my blog that I’m tough to figure out. Why do I care about God? Why trust Jesus when I’ve spent the last 18 months in pain? Trust me, I understand your questions. All I can say is when you discover faith in Christ, your life and perspective can change. You can find purpose. My purpose is to bring God glory and praise. (I write “can” only because a lot of people say they believe in Christ but never commit to following and living like Him. In those cases, nothing really changes.)
On August 2, I have been asked to tell my story of True Love at the largest Christian music festival in the Northeast, Soulfest 2012. I might find myself speaking to a few hundred people, a few thousand or more than 10,000 depending on when they have me speak. Being in front of people doesn’t freak me out or make me nervous. I’ve been pontificating for 30 years.
I have 5 minutes to give my “elevator pitch.” I have five minutes to condense the last 18 months and clearly direct people to the welcoming love and acceptance of my Jesus. Just five minutes to share who and what truly defines me …
What has me nervous is the possibility of my becoming a sobbing mess and not communicating clearly. How can I possibly explain the grace of my God, the love of His people, the support of my family and friends and the incredible sacrifice of my son who offered up himself so that I might live, without becoming an ugly pile of mush? Geez, I cry at commercials, how am I going to reign in my emotions for this?
I live to tell the story. I love to tell the story of God’s love. I’ll make it somehow. I figure that my God brought me to this point and gave me this opportunity for a reason. He’ll give me the words and his spirit will communicate clearly regardless of my performance. I just need to breathe deep, right?
My son Josh wrote a blog post yesterday that got me to thinking about what defines me. You and I are not defined by what we do. We’re not defined by our jobs, our houses, our struggles and illnesses. We’re not defined by our checkbooks or achievements. I AM NOT LIVER DISEASE. I AM NOT TRANSPLANT MAN.
What I am is a person who God loves so much that he adopted me into his family. I am one of His miracles. All of the things that happen are just part of my story. Some chapters are more weighty than others but no one chapter defines me. Or you.
I am one of God’s children ready to tell people what makes my Dad so awesome. That’s who I am. Who are you?
God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us – an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him! That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times.” Romans 8:16-18 THE MESSAGE