My father used to say that the word history really meant His story, because the whole record of events in the world was the account of the story that God planned and devised. Of course this is true in a poetic or spiritual, rather than an etymological, sense. The word history derives from the ancient Greek word historia, meaning knowledge and learning acquired by enquiry and investigation. A “histor” was a judge or wise person.
From this root we also derive our word story. At one time in English the words story and history were interchangeable, and in modern French the word histoire means both history and story. So in a way, my father was right. Everything that happens in history, and in our own personal history, is part of the story that God has written, a story which we know will culminate in everything being made subject to Jesus, and His rule and reign being established over the whole creation.
This is why the stories that we write owe so much to real events. The line between story and history is very blurred. In my current WIP a newlywed couple form a deep friendship with a young woman who has a learning disability and lives in a care home. I can identify with the epiphany moment in which they realise that they have become friends and that friendship is not brain to brain but heart to heart, because I had such a moment of enlightenment myself.
It was when I was around thirteen years old. Every day I would meet up with my friends at the bus station and we would catch the bus to school together. And every day, a little girl with Down’s Syndrome would also catch the bus with her mother. One day, one of my friends discovered that if you pulled a nasty face at this little girl, she would begin to cry, and it became a daily competition to see who could be the first to make her cry.
Then one day I caught the bus on my own, and this little girl was again there with her mother. Because I didn’t have my friends with me, I smiled at her, and was surprised to receive a beaming smile in response – no resentment or dislike for the way we had bullied her, just an artless smile of friendship. Shortly after this, MENCAP ran a poster campaign, and I could see one of their billboards each day from the bus as it went past. It depicted a small boy with Down’s Syndrome who was crying, being comforted by a little girl, also with Down’s Syndrome. The caption read, “We may not think as quickly, but we feel as deeply.”
Only a few years older than those children myself, my mind went to the little girl we had been bullying, and the forgiving smile she had given me when I smiled at her. I determined then and there never to bully her, or anyone like her, ever again, and to stick up for her when my friends did it.
I never dreamed that just twelve years later I would myself become the mother of a little girl with complex multiple disabilities, including a learning disability. My earlier experience had prepared me to understand the depth of her feelings and to develop an empathy with her which was not simply normal maternal bonding. And my little part of God’s story, my sliver of the history of His world, has become something which is changing its future story, as I share my experience in many different places and help people to understand how to connect with people with learning disabilities.
As well as finding its way into my WIP, I will be taking my story to Sierra Leone next year, where I will be teaching some church leaders about a Biblical theology of disability and about pastoral care of families with disabled children. What an exciting story God wrote for me, from my interaction with that little girl on the bus to the things He has given me to do and to write in the story of His world. How does your story fit into His story?
www.throughtheroof.org) as their Training Resources Developer, and loves getting paid to write about disability all day. You can find her blog at http://rosbunneywriting.wordpress.com and her author page at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ros-Bayes/e/B00JLRTNVA/.
Follow her on Twitter: @rosbwriting.