Fell asleep in my jeans last night. Came home after piano lessons, basketball practice and jazz class. Hit the books after scarfing down some leftover lasagna. By the time I covered all my reading, pumped out a lab write-up, and conjugated three pages of Spanish verbs, math became one big blur of numbers. Hopefully, they all found their homes in the right spots and my Algebra teacher will lay off on the eyebrow-raised, head-shaking, “Mary, did you know…” because I do know that x + 7 = y + 17 does not make x and y equal to zero. Every time. Just when the one is dropped.
And I’ve been dropping the ball in math class. But I promise to pick it up and shoot up a three percentage point increase on my report card so Mom and Dad won’t make me do times tables every weekend. They still think that if I just master the 13’s, math will no longer be a struggle for me. I told them, “I just have a feeling, not everything in life adds up. Like most people expect it to. That’s why math and I don’t get along.”
“Do you homework, Mary.” Dad’s response no matter what I say.
As I lay my head down on my pillow and stare at the ceiling, it’s well past midnight. I reason that my horizontal disposition might get the juices flowing for my last assignment. Instead, I think about the hallway hecklers that u-turned me back up to the second floor to English class without my Shakespeare anthology. Worked out when Ms. Jones tapped on the white board with her closed dry erase marker. “Pay attention teens. Today’s assignment is due tomorrow. I will mark it late if the bell rings, and it’s not on my desk. I’m finishing report cards so only interrupt me if you’re really stuck.”
I had already reread the words written in bright green several times, but I was stumped.
“Today is the day you write your own story.”
My story? But I don’t have one. At least not one worth sharing. So far, my fourteen years on earth have been made up of your basic, run of the mill, nothing exciting ever happens to me, days. I do my chores, eat my veggies, and trim my nails. I sing in the shower, walk the dog, and say my prayers. About the most exciting event in my life thus far was the day my boyfriend Joey proposed. But that was last year. And he’s been proposing since kindergarten, an act that definitely falls in the category of old news.
Almost twelve hours after English class, and I still don’t know where to begin. I shift my head just enough to see the screen of my iPad, leaning upright on its charger-stand thingy. The screen is silent. No one’s i-messaging tonight. I guess I’m not the only one still searching for her story. We made a pact after school not to go online till we had our first drafts. We, meaning Joey and I.
Seconds after I look away, I hear the buzz on an incoming message. He’s done? Not fair! I ignore it, at first. Then I notice the screen lit up like a Light Bright game board on fire, and I am up and reaching for my iPad now.
I can barely read the words at first. But then I see them. They are appearing in front of my eyes, one letter at a time. I have no idea who is messaging me, at this time of night.
“First of all, you’re beautiful.”
I type back, “Okay? Thanks for the boost of confidence, but is this some kind of joke?”
“Secondly, you’re not alone.”
My fingers tap in response: “Okay? But what if I feel lonely? Right now?”
“And third, you have nothing to be scared of.”
I can’t help myself but answer, “So, you can tell I’m a little freaked out. I still don’t know who I’m talking to.”
“Lastly, you’re his favorite! And I’m here to help you write your story.”
“But who are you? And whose favorite am I?” I do need help with my story. “How do I write my story? Where do I begin?”
“Let’s start with knowing who you are. You need to know who you are before you write your story.”
Makes good sense to me. “So, who am I? And who do I ask for that answer? Because I’ve asked myself, but sometimes, I don’t believe the answer or I don’t like the answer or I start believing what everyone else says about me.”
“Only one person can answer that question for you. The one who made you. If you believe me, he says, ‘You’re beautiful, accepted, courageous—my favorite!’ What does that make you?”
“That’s all you need to know.”
I don’t type another word. And neither does the screen show any more messages. The light dims back to sleep mode, and I put the iPad back on its stand. Then I open up my laptop and begin typing. Because I know what to write. I know how to start my story. I don’t know how the story ends. But I know I have a story. And my story will inspire others. To write their stories. Because we each have a story. To know. And to tell.
“My name is Mary. I am loved. And this is my story…”
** The rest of the story is found in the Book of Luke, chalk full of details that make any fairy tale pale in comparison. There was a treacherous journey, a few curious shepherds, fireworks in the sky, several wise guys carrying some seriously pricey goods, and a shooting star that left a trail pointing to a little barn off to the side of an overbooked hotel. And they all came looking for their stories. Because someone had told them that their lives were meant to include adventure. And they would find themselves when they put aside their fears and approached their journeys with open hearts. And open hands. Because in order to receive what life had for each of them, they had to let go and make room. It’s quite a story. Each, I’m sure, had quite a story to tell when they returned home, too.
Oh. The most important part. A baby. Born a king. Born to tell them, to tell me, and to tell you, who we are. And whose we are.
I am loved. And I am his.
You are loved. You belong.
Mary Christmas All! And Merry Christmas too!
**So, this Christmas season, are you feeling lonely? Uncertain? Scared? Do you know someone who needs to read this story? So they can begin to write their own story? Are you hoping for warm and fuzzy Christmas socks in your stocking?