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Monday, February 7, 2011

What's Your Story?


Morning! Gina here. For the last week I've been mulling over what to write. Kept coming back to one topic: Superheroes. I love them. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Not as much as my oldest daughter, Jerah, who is obsessed with them. (If I were obsessed, I'd post a picture of Ryan Reynolds in his Green Lantern uniform.) Primarily Jerah loves Batman. In fact, she has a list of her Top Six Batman Villains. Not sure why she chose six instead of the traditional five. Of all the Super Bowl commercials yesterday, which ones made me stop and watch? Yep, you guessed it: THOR and CAPTAIN AMERICA. I love love love superhero movies so I'm uber excited for the ones coming out this summer and next summer. And that leads me to . . .

At church yesterday morning, a friend of hubby's gave his testimony to the youth group. Four years ago, Mike had a stroke. He was 34. In that spider-bite instant, his life changed forever. That got me thinking about what I wanted to share with y'all today. A life can change in a moment.

So what happens when Gina does a mash-up of Superheroes and Church? This . . .

My Shirt, My Life, My Spider(bite)
 
Maybe the red stiletto boots hooked me. Maybe the twinkling stars and commanding strips did. Or maybe, just maybe, the gold wrist cuffs were what won my heart.

Forget Indiana Jones. The first person to popularize rope wearing was the ultimate heroine: Wonder Woman. And her rope didn’t whip the baddies; it seduced them into speaking the truth. Gotta love Wonder Woman!

Yes, I have to admit I have a Wonder Woman tee-shirt. One of my dearest writer friends thought I was loony to wear it to the opening night of an RWA STAR conference. Oh, but that feline lover was so wrong. I’m not a bit loony. I proudly wore the red shirt with Wonder Woman emblazoned across my chest. In fact, I even wore it to church upon more than one occasion. I'm even thinking ACFW this September.

Although I love Wonder Woman, she’s really not my favorite superhero. Neither are Superman, Supergirl, Aquaman, or the Wonder Twins. Probably my fav is Spiderman. Why? Because he wasn’t born Spiderman. His powers weren’t innate. One day he was happily walking along in geekdom when a spider bit him. In that nanosecond, his life changed.

Every person who has ever lived has had at least one spider-biting moment. Every person who has ever lived has a story. They were born, they lived, and they died. Some stories are exciting.

William Wallace. Ghandi. Genghis Khan. Joan of Arc. Anne Boleyn.

Martin Luther. Thomas Jefferson.
Rosa Parks.

Jesse Owens. Mozart. Liberace.

But some stories aren’t as exciting and no one will find them in any book. Of course, most of us will never James Frey our lives for recognition, but that doesn’t mean our stories aren’t as valuable or significant. What is your spider-biting moment? What is that moment in time when your life hit a huge turning point?

For me, it was June 8, 1992.

I’d just graduated with a degree in Communications with an emphasis in Radio/Television and was working at a news radio station. My fiancĂ© was a DJ at a local top-forty radio station. Life was good. Yet, I was miserable. My life had had a small turning point during my senior year of high school. My church youth pastor did something stupid (nothing immoral or anything, just stupid), which ticked me off so I slowly got less and less involved in church.

So by 1992, I had pretty much walked away from practicing my faith, from believing in the significance of being a part of a body of belivers. The guy I was marrying claimed to be a Christian so I justified that as him being a good guy to marry, yet I couldn’t understand why I was so miserable . .  until I realized that a relationship with a guy wasn’t going to fill the ache in my heart. No man, woman, or child could offer me lasting significance. I need God on a daily basis. I needed to be following His will, His word.

I'd never stopped believing in God.

I'd merely sat down in the middle of the race. Ever done that?

After my realization, I ended the engagement and returned to the One True God who could heal my hurts and give me value. The joy that I had been missing consumed me. My life hasn’t been the same since because no matter what struggles, frustrations, or hell that arises, I have a peace and hope in my soul that defies human understanding.

That’s what I call a life-defining moment.
I remember when I was thirteen
I saw a picture on my T.V. screen
The Reverend Billy Graham and the people singing Just As I Am
And it felt like You were talking to me
And the whole world seemed to fade away
Until I heard my mother say "Son, are you okay? Do you wanna pray?"
And that became the hour I first believed
Next thing you know I'm high and flyin'
Next thing you know My heart is in your hands
Next thing you know There's no denyin'
Next thing you know I'm a brand new man
Got a picture in my head today of how heaven might look someday
I see the people there, so I pull up a chair
And their stories, they blow me away
'Cause I can see it on every face The evidence of grace
And as I listen it occurs to me
Everybody's got their own thirteen
So, what's your story about His glory?
You gotta find your place in the history of grace
~Matthew West, What's Your Story
Every person who has lived as had a life-defining moment, although not all of those moments are personal encounters with God. When a couple marries, their lives take a new course. Even if they divorce, their lives are forever changed. Having children is a turning point. Losing a parent or loved one and realizing that life is about more than chasing wealth and 15 minutes of fame is a defining moment.

Examine your lives for spider-bites. What happened that changed you from a self-absorbed person to a giving person? What changed you from loving the man you vowed to love-until-death-do-you-part into wondering what a relationship with that other guy would be like? What changed you from working in a 6-digit job to becoming a stay-at-home mommy? What made you leave Podunkville, USA for a life in the big city? What changed you from being a joyful person to a cynic or a cynic into a joyful person?

What I love about fiction is reading a character's spider-bite moment. It's when s/he says, "Enough! It's time I change." And then s/he does. Another word for that is REBIRTH.

If you’ve ever read The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler, you saw a comedic and earnest rebirth of a character. If you haven’t read it, then read it.

Writers: Take a really really good look at your manuscript. Is there a rebirth? If there isn’t, then maybe you need to take your manuscript on a tour of a laboratory that specializes in genetically enhanced spiders. Make your characters stop being victims of life and start being students of their experiences. And while they’re at it, why don’t we join them?

Serious Question of the Day: What's your story? What spider-bite moment changed your life? How are you different now than you were before?

Non-Serious Question of the Day: If you could have any superpower, what would it be and WHY? It took me months of pondering (my kids were always asking) until I finally decided I wanted the power to put thoughts into people's minds.

19 comments:

  1. Gina, nice post! You are quick on your feet--another superpower I suppose.

    First, I love love love that Matthew West song and The Accidental Tourist, both the book and the movie.

    You have given me things to think about all day. A superpower? A spider-bite moment? I'll be baaack.

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  2. 1) Gina, although you claim to hate women's fiction, I think you'd love my new novel. My Christian girl is you. Loves God. Avoiding church. Needs a spiderbite moment to accept her youth pastor future husband. Plenty of romance, even some steamy kissing. And a HEA. Yeah, you'd love it.

    2) I actually prayed to accept Christ after watching Billy Graham with my parents. I was three years old.

    3) My son wrote a superhero script called "The Three Godly Spies." In it I was supermom with secret dancing powers and a purple lasso. I sooooo wanted to make that into a youtube video!!!!! Maybe someday. A girl can dream.

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  3. Deb, think long about what superpower you'd like to have. With great power comes great responsibility.

    Which is why I chose, as my superpower-to-have, the ability to put thoughts in other people's minds. That way I could get them to do what I wanted.

    Read minds? Are you insane? I don't want to hear anyone's--least of all, everyone's--thoughts.

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  4. Hmm, Gina. Maybe you should reread Laurie Alice's control freak post.

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  5. Dina, you made me into a fictional heroine?! LOL Just be sure to focus on all my fabulous skills, talents, and abilities. Especially my spiritual gifts of receiving and of putting babies to sleep (as in slumber, not dead).

    I used to watch Billy Graham revivals with my parents, too.

    Secret dancing powers!? Nice. Love the purple lasso, too.

    If I had to have a special tool to use, I'm thinking I'll go with a gold bataan. (For a brief moment in high school, I wanted to be a bataan twiler. Then I saw their outfits. No thank you.)

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  6. She does have a way with children. Gift of receiving. Must ponder.

    Just discovered our mutual friend, Carrie Pagels, twirled baton in highschool, marching with the band, outfit and all.

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  7. Dina, power is more than about control . . . or world domination.

    Wouldn't you like to get your kids or hubby to do something and you not have to say a thing to them to get them to do it?

    Nice!

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  8. Whoops. Baton. Not bataan.

    I can't spell this morning.

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  9. Wow, Gina, you don't pull any punches, do you???
    But then you ARE a super hero!!

    My spider bite moment: I was sixteen and anorexic- 5'10, 99 pounds. I was attending a tiny Baptist church because they accepted me. One night they showed a movie about satan worship and I realized that satan was real and that he wanted me dead, and that if I died he would WIN. So I decided to live.

    Superpower: I'd like to be like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. I want to wake up and discover that I had the power all along...

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  10. Nothing like a good Monday morning post to get me thinking, Gina!
    I'll have to go through my list of spider-bite moments. Too many of them have been the kryponite kind... oops, mixed superhero metaphors.

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  11. I had a mini bite about two weeks ago. I woke up and realized I was a writer. It wasn't just that I wanted to be a writer and that some day I'd stop pretending and I'd go back to my real life. I realized it was my real life.

    Super Power: I'd like to be able to stop time, go back and leave a love note/word of encouragement for people just at the time they needed it most. For all those times I could have done it but didn't.

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  12. Ooh, Deb, I love your super power. I don't have mine figured out yet. I think it should have something to do with a lovely singing voice (which I don't have).

    Dina, I'd love to see that You Tube, and how cool of your son to give you a power. I love it.

    Cheryl, having seen first hand the effects of anorexia, I'm so thankful you conquered it.

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  13. Wow, Cheryl! Now that is a victory, not just a spider-bite moment. Yay, God!!!

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  14. Deb, that's an interesting superpower to have. Makes me wish I paused more often and took time to encourage those around me. The spirtual gift of encouragement is one I see being needed more and more these days.

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  15. Well, I'd need to go back pretty far (with my super power) because I started my suspicious ways sometime after 2nd grade when someone I thought was my friend stole my favorite change purse (it was tartan plaid).

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  16. Cheryl, I'll second Gina: that's victory!

    Great post, Gina. I'm thinking of spiderbite moments -- what an exercise. I think I should do this more often. I need to consider God's goodness and power in my life.

    I'm considering my superpower. I know what I *don't* want: laser vision like Cyclops, or whatever it is that happens to Hulk. Deb's is wonderful, but I think I'd probably blow it and rather than truly encourage someone, I'd spend too long dawdling in the past for my own purposes (and I'd call it research or something noble-sounding!).

    Encouragement, compassion, faith -- all superpowers I'd like more of.

    But if I were one of the X-men, I'd love to be stronger so I could defend others. I also wouldn't mind having regenerative properties. Gee, I'm Wolverine without the sideburns.

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  17. It was one of those moments- like in Jennifer's post yesterday about choosing life or death- and I knew it.

    If God could do it for me, a clueless Catholic attending the Baptist church because they LOVED me...

    Thanks everyone for reminding me of the power of love!

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  18. Wolverine without the sideburns . . . LOL, Susanne!

    Cheryl, it seems like we've learned that the greatest superpower of all is the power to love.

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  19. Wow, Gina. Some post.

    And Cheryl, I try to keep 'awesome' for the really big things, but when I finished reading about your spider-bite moment I thought - awesome!

    I had a spider-bite moment when I was trying to get pregnant with my 2nd child after giving birth 12 yrs prior. I was seeing a fertility specialist because my insides are deformed and the doc was giving me hormone shots and fertility drugs and I was taking my basal temp every morning. We were doing everything to create a miracle. But you see, I was still smoking at the time. Then one day I had a spider-bite moment and thought... I've been at this for almost 2 yrs and I've had 3 miscarriages during that time. If I don't show the doctor I'm serious about carrying a child, he's going to give up on me. Yes, I'd tried to quit numerous times before and always gave up before a week or two was over. But after that spider-bite, I quit cold turkey. When hubby saw that I was serious, he quit too. Neither one of us has had a smoke since and that was over 20 yrs ago. Yes, Jessica is now 20 yrs old. I conceived her a few months after I quit smoking and managed to carry her until 6 wks before her due date. It wasn't a picnic to quit. And it wasn't a picnic to carry her. But every time after when things got really bad, all I had to think was... if I didn't need a smoke during the times I almost lost her, why would I need one now.

    Anita Mae.

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