I can’t remember a day in my house of upbringing without a rice cooker sitting proud amidst all of the lesser appliances in our kitchen. Day after day, it poured steam from its lid while it popped hard short grain rice into perfect white pillows. It was always toiling. We had rice with almost every dinner, no matter what kind of dinner it was, even spaghetti. And sometimes, after school, my mom mixed me a bowl of hot rice and butter. To this day, I would say it’s hands down better than cookies.
When we didn’t eat all of the rice my mom made the night before, she would take what was left of it and mix the morning-after rice with cold water. I watched her make this cold rice soup for breakfast and requested my own bowl. She chuckled, perplexed by my desire for this meal she ate out of need as a child. She grew up eating whatever amounts of rice were left, if any, and added water to it because that was the only way to quiet her hollow belly. She continued to do it long after it was a necessity, while standing in a kitchen full of food with a daughter who had never known that kind of hunger.
It wasn’t that I just wanted to be like her, spooning the cold rice and water. What I wanted most was to know her and understand the stories that made her who she was. If she had spent days consuming barely-filled bowls of this soup like treasure, I wanted to taste it.
At an early age, I remember being drawn to stories filled with war, poverty, and hardship. I sat on the rough, gray carpet of my third-grade classroom asking question after question while learning about the first peoples of America, trying to understand what had really happened. At university, I was drawn into literature of the Holocaust and literature from oppressed voices. I would walk home from classes crying from the weight of them, but I kept reading, striving to uncover something within me and the world around me. I saw my mom in every story. I looked for the family she lost and the millions of questions that surrounded her life in every book. I searched because deep down, I believed that knowing her would help me know myself. And knowing myself would elucidate The One who had created my innermost parts.
The stories that surround our making matter. The tastes, colors, languages and landscape matter. We were made to pay attention to these stories because paying attention to them teaches us who we are and gives us the ability to see that God made us to belong to one another. All of our deepest desires are wrapped up in our connected stories.
As I grew into adulthood and the answers I searched for didn’t show up, I wanted to turn my back on these stories. I wanted to give up on the complicated emotions and the hurt and chase after my own dreams. I wondered if I could make myself into whatever I wanted to be, and if I could replace cold rice soup for whatever light-hearted, trendy brunches suited my fancy.
I’ve run my shoes ragged on the heels of some dreams. And in the face of them I’ve met disappointment as those dreams died or the reality of achieving them only showed me that they weren’t enough.
I’ve become convinced that chasing after my own dreams is too small a thing to live for and simply living surrendered to the stories in and around me is everything.
Life has a way of bringing all of us to our knees. Sometimes the path ahead is one painful step after another. No one tells you how much it will hurt to start again, to get out of bed, to say what you really feel, to admit your doubt and disbelief. I don’t know anyone that has hustled their way out of this predicament this side of the veil. And I don’t know anyone who has become satisfied chasing their own dreams.
But here’s what I’ve seen: The dreams I thought were worth chasing were only small clues to the story that was being written down deep. It’s a story that can’t be written without the ones that came before it and the ones that are meant to follow after it. There’s a bigger dream unfolding. It’s an unstoppable revolution of redemption. It will rise up again despite the losses we face and the time it takes for us to realize that our worth, despite everything, is too big to wrap in clichés and Bible verses taken out of context.
Our story, yours and mine, and all of ours together? It’s Christ’s story. This Christmas season, it’s His story that’s begging us to become those who let go of playing tag with our own small dreams and take up the courageous act of sitting still long enough to listen and become those who know how to pay attention.
Our story, yours and mine, and all of ours together? It’s Christ’s story. -@tashajunb: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Michele Morin says
I’m always beating the drum for finding the Jesus story in the Old Testament, the redemptive story arc that reaches all the way back to Eden, and now you’re reminding me that the arc continues forward!
Blessings to you, Tasha!
I love that, Michele. Thank you and blessings to you as well.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I love your heart for those who are hurting and who have been hurt….I see a mission of compassion for others in your future (or maybe already in your present). Go with that quest God has put within you. Yes, the truth is that our stories are always changing, shifting directions, taking unexpected turns and even unwanted turns. There are mountains, valleys, and occasionally the steady days in between. The central character in our story is not us, it’s Christ, and the main action in our story is trust. I’ve found that if I keep in mind it’s not really about me, it’s about God’s plan and purpose, and along the way God’s greatest desire is to shape me into the likeness of His Son, then it better helps me to set aside my dreams and seek His will for my life and to accept the good, the bad, and even the ugly that may come my way. Beautiful reflections….keep asking your mom to tell you her stories and pass them on to your children 😉
Thank you, Bev. I will definitely keep asking for more stories. 🙂 Blessings to you as well.
Robin Dance says
Tasha!! This is beautiful from beginning to end. Starting with food as an illustration, you’ve given us much delicious food for thought :). I loved this: “The dreams I thought were worth chasing were only small clues to the story that was being written down deep.” because it tells my own story of God giving me over to myself in order for me to bottom out and realize all of those things were the cost of finding Him in the greatest measure, as He patiently waited for me.
Robin, Thank you so much for that encouragement. I am eager to read more of your story and hopefully hear more in person in the future!
Beth Williams says
Our stories are epic novels with parts unwritten. Who but God knows how this will all end?. I liken my journey to the Stephen C Chapman song “The Great Adventure”. He talks about blazing trails of God’s amazing grace. This life & the stories that make them up can be a wild ride of ups, downs unexpected twists & turns & the great steady days. The best part is that He is right there with us all they way. Guiding us with His steady hand. We need to learn the stories of our elders & predecessors to understand our own journey & who we are. The hardest part of all this is sticking with it through the tough times. Knowing that God has you in the palm of His hands. He knew this trial would come & He is preparing you & walking with us. This world says go for it all. Chase your dreams it will satisfy. Truth is nothing down here will satisfy our longing for a better home. Our souls crave to be with Jesus & one day we will. For now let’s cherish those stories & legacies. They are His Stories & He isn’t finished with us yet.
Sticking with it in some of those middle pages can be so tough, you are so right. I am so grateful we can remind each other to do just that and that God gives us his strength our weaknesses. There’s more to come. Thank you for your words, Beth.
Oh Tasha, rice in cold water is definitely the best and unless you are Asian, you won’t understand this concept at all. I mean that sounds gross doesn’t it but it is totally comfort food for me. I remember my mom didn’t like to use the rice cooker so she made me get up extra early before school to cook the rice the good old fashioned way where you soak it the night before and steam in the morning. I hated doing it then but goodness, the rice definitely does taste better. Rice at all meals, of course… So many stories from my momma about the war. So many things she wished she had not seen. Those stories make me feel connected and closer to her. The story of Christmas is a story we must continue to share with everyone and especially during this season to remind those who are lost, hurting that there is hope and that hope is found in Jesus. Thanks so much for sharing.
Yes, Maylee!! I love that you got up to make the rice and how you hold similar stories from your own mom. I am glad you are here and that we’ve connected here.
Darlean Tipke-Kane says
Compelling,with such art of the detail!!!!!!Thank you.
Thank you so much, Darlean!
Hi Tasha, thank you so much for sharing. These are true and beautiful words. Everything you shared spoke to me….loved the ending so much,
“Our story, yours and mine, and all of ours together? It’s Christ’s story. This Christmas season, it’s His story that’s begging us to become those who let go of playing tag with our own small dreams and take up the courageous act of sitting still long enough to listen and become those who know how to pay attention.
That’s my prayer….that I will sit and be still and pay attention.
What a privilege and blessing to learn from your story and from all the other comments today. Thank you all.
Paula, thank you. I am praying that prayer alongside of you. I am so glad you are here.
Profound wisdom that can only come from having lived and experienced the joy and the sorrow of knowing and becoming who we are in Christ. It is through this process that we become who we are to become – a beacon of the light that only Christ can shine as a hope to others trying to find their way in the darkness. Shine on dear sister, shine on
Oh, thank you, Loretta. I receive that and pray the same for your unique light in the world.
This was truly touching, thank-you for sharing with us.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.
I hope that you all have a blessed day,
Penny, I am so glad to hear that. Thank you for your words.
Jasmine Ruigrok says
Oh this!! I feel like you’ve put into words what God has been whispering in the deepest part of my heart; our greatest calling this side of heaven is not what we do, but who we become; and how we help others become who they were called to be. How can we do that without entering into each others’ stories?
Jasmine, yes, exactly…who we become. Amen to all of that. I am so glad you are here and that you are obviously paying attention to God’s whispers and the stories surrounding you. Lovely.
Nicole T. Walters says
Tasha, this is so beautiful and so important for us to remember for us and for those around us who have different beginnings and so different stories. Oh, how I want to know the stories of those around me too and how they shape people. And I just had to laugh at the rice, all the rice. My son has not learned to love rice yet living in South Asia. My daughter looks like a true Bengali, digging into her after school “snack” of rice with her hands, messy and happy. My son refuses and all our friends asks, “But how can he live without rice?” Oh, how our roots shape our hearts.
Hi Nicole! Thank you. All the rice is right. I love the picture of your daughter’s embrace of it, and the picture of your son, still hesitant. 🙂 Both are stories in motion themselves.
Marinalva Sickler says
Hi, Tasha. I was touched by the way you spoke about your mom and the sufferings of your past stories. I had the privilege to visit my mom after 20 years living in US. I flew to Brazil in 2015 with my grandson, Wesley, to meet his 3 cousins. I couldn’t take baby Oliver because his immunization was not completed. I’m a grandma raising 2 grandsons. They both love rice, especially the white rice. On the following year my mom died. I identified myself with your love for your mom. I pray blessings over you and a very merry Christmas.
Marinalva, what a beautiful reunion that trip to Brazil must have been. I am sure you treasure those memories and especially getting to share them with your grandson. I am so very sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing a glimpse of your own story and reaching out here – it’s a blessing to be connected to you through our unique stories. Merry Christmas to you as well!
Becky Keife says
Tasha, I could read your story all day long. The way God stirs your mind and soul and sense in deep ways stirs ours. I’m so with you. Leaning into the stories that surround us, paying attention, grasping a vision bigger than individual dreams — it all matters as a matter of soul life or death. Thank you for this. xx
Becky, thank so much for those encouraging words and it means a lot to know we are in this together, friend.
Emily B. says
Thank you for releasing some of the pressure to do and be everything I want to be, to chase after my dreams and conquer them (all things that are supposed to be inspiring) and reminding me that’s it’s not just okay, but good to be still and Know that He is God and to wait upon the Lord. God is working through you, friend!