Mandolyn Orrell | Week 6

To be a person is to have a story to tell. —Karen Blixen

Stories.  They are such powerful entities.  Stories can bring healing, can bring understanding, or can bring great suffering.  They can be tragedies, comedies, or inspirational, or a combination of the three.  Every culture ever to walk the earth has told stories.  Some about the meaning of life.  Some about the ponderings of life after death.  We all tell stories.  We all are stories.  What’s your story?  Are you willing to tell it to others?

I’m learning more and more of the power of a story.  The power in my story, and the path I have led, and continue to walk.  We have to be about to tell our story.  We have to be able to tell it, so that we may heal and grow, or so that others may heal, grow, or be challenged/encouraged by our stories.

As I sit here writing this, I am reminded of the story of one of the greatest abolitionist of the modern world, Kru Nam.  And the story of the incredibly strong survivor, Minh, whom I was privileged to have coffee with today.  The story of great abolitionists of days past come to mind, such as William Wilberforce, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, and more.  I think of what their life was like.  The daily struggles, and what got them through.  The rare victories, and how they celebrated.  These well-known leaders knew their story.  They knew the power of a story.  They knew what it was to struggle.  They had to have known who they were, with absolute assurance.

In Hebrew terms, they must have known their name.  In ancient middle eastern times, your name was so much more than just a word.  It was your identity.  It was the quintessence of who you were.  The very core of you, the fiber of your being.  Can you imagine the pain that comes with not knowing who you are?  To not know your name, is to not know your story.

I think that in today’s society, there may be very few committed abolitionists because so many of us don’t know who we are.  We are frozen by the pain of not knowing our name- who we truly are, at the core.  We become completely immobilized and ineffective when we don’t know who we are.  We will never be effective when we are comparing ourselves to others.  We must claim our own story, and not try to recreate it.  Our past, our mistakes, our family, our hopes, our dreams, our path- they all are part of us.  We must come to terms with who we are, and who we aren’t.  As Dave Batstone has said many times, we cannot try to rewrite or edit chapters one through thirteen.  We must continue on to chapter fourteen, fifteen, sixteen and beyond, and accept the life we have been given.  It is only then that we can be effective abolitionists.

One aspect of this Fellowship is personal development.  Through this fellowship, and the connections I have made so far, I am gaining more and more confidence to tell my true story.  I am here to be an effective abolitionist.  That will only happen when I tell my story as it is, not as I wish it has been, or were to be.  It is what it is, and I am becoming ok with it.  I am owning it.  I am committed abolitionist.  Are you?

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