The Stories that Change Us (The Color of Life)

The Stories that Change Us (The Color of Life) January 10, 2019

Since The Color of Life launches into this world in less than a month, it’s only appropriate that I ramp up the book here on the blog. Feel free to share the highlighted image and be sure to preorder your copy today! 

Image courtesy of author

Everyday in my early twenties, I stood in front of a classroom of sixteen and seventeen year olds. Privilege, of course, had always been mine: I went to a four-year liberal arts university. I graduated from said university with a teaching degree. And, when I was twenty-two years old, in the midst of applying for a full-time substitute teaching position, I landed a job teaching high school English to juniors and seniors.

“Lie,” my supervisor told me.

“Excuse me?”

“Lie. Tell them you’re twenty-six, maybe twenty-seven. But don’t ever let them find out that you’re really only four years older than some of them.” I gulped and nodded my head, even though I didn’t think I could pass in words or in looks for a late twenty-something year old.

But I vowed to do it, especially when that thing called pride got the best of me. After all, I’d gone to college to learn how to be a teacher. I knew how to employ classroom management techniques, just as I successfully knew how to teach a four-week unit on Macbeth. 

But teaching actual real, fleshy human beings was a different sort of deal: I didn’t know how to respond when the students legitimately knew more than I did about a particular subject, when the last thing I felt like I could do was admit defeat and not know or have the answer to everything. I thought that being a teacher meant being the smartest one in the room, and as a teacher who was supposed to be four or five years older than her driver’s license actually stated was to pretend to have it all together, all the time.

So, I didn’t know how to respond when we read books like To Kill a Mockingbird and injustice seemed to jump off the page – even if it felt like the racism of Boo Radley’s world only existed outside the mostly white, mostly safe bubble I lived in. And I most certainly didn’t know how to teach books like Their Eyes Were Watching God and Native Sonwhen, in my privilege, I didn’t think issues of race had anything to do with me – a straight, white, privileged young woman.

After all, privilege is believing that my way of experiencing and operating in the world is normal, so much so that it makes me want to change and fix those who don’t fit into my picture of normalcy.*

But then (but then, but then, but then), I did know.

Because then, life happened.

And when the power of love wedged its way into my story and my life and began to descale my eyes from the reality of the world that was already, always right in front of my eyes. 

After all, “we know and we are changed by the stories we hear, by the accounts we read, by the tales we absorb.” This has been the weaving thread of my life and of learning to color outside the lines, and I’m guessing it’s a weaving thread of your life as well.

Whether yours is a learned or a lived experience of the stories that have changed you, stories have changed you nonetheless …and I don’t know about you, but I want nothing more than to continue to be changed by the stories around me.

These stories changed the way I viewed scripture and the way I interacted with the world around me. Really, these stories opened my eyes to lament and to mourning, to celebration and to fighting the good fight.

And really, I couldn’t hope for anything else.

The list goes on, but I’d love to hear from you: how have stories changed you? How are you different by the accounts you’ve read and the tales you’ve absorbed? Share a STORY below! 

*Thanks Brenda Bertrand for a definition of privilege similar to this one! Also, post contains Amazon Affiliate links, which just goes to support further fantastically nasty reading habits.

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