Holy Shit

Light shining through a window onto a book and vase of flowers representing "holy shit."
photo by Chris Liu

“Where are you, Adam?”

According to Dr. Dan Allender, this is the most central question of the Bible. (To Be Told, p. 193)

When I read this. I stopped. Dumbfounded.

I had never considered this question before. Ever. 

Instead, I had held tight to my naïve, angry, simple-minded version of the Adam and Eve story. We’re all sinners bound for hell if we don’t get our acts together. Not good enough for our gardens, left in a panic of after fear, weight of the world upon us due to our selfish power-driven selves. Man and woman weary of and from our roles, fingers pointing outward. We should be ashamed. Forever terrorized by snakes. 

Forever terrorized by our holy human shitty selves. 

To Be Told

I just finished To Be Told. Besides The Book of Forgiving that I’ve been discussing in October, I decided today, unplanned, to also celebrate Dr. Dan B. Allender’s book during this National Book Month. 

A young man sitting next to me on a flight a few weeks ago saw me reading it and said it was an excellent book. I found his descriptive to be curious since a friend, whose opinion I value, cautioned that Dr. Allender doesn’t have the best reputation. That was hearsay however, not based on personal experience. Not passed off as truth. Simply put, “Bear this in mind as you’re reading.” Whatever conclusion I would ultimately arrive at, I felt it would be worthy of a future conversation. Free from condemnation. I felt affirmed. Witnessed.

I don’t remember now from where I stumbled upon Allender’s book, but I believe it to be from some “worthy” where. And because it was about storytelling, and because I am launching more Embodiment storytelling classes in November, I ordered it. Admittedly, like a time-suck mini-series, I am hopelessly drawn to stories. 

I find value in stories. 
I find freedom in stories. 
I find myself in stories. 

As in, “Where are you, Debby?” 

So, with mixed feedback tucked away, I cautiously entered To Be Told.

Our Stories

“Everyone’s life is a story. But most people don’t know how to read their life in a way that reveals their story.” (introduction, To Be Told)

Dr. Allender had me at page one, and held me to the end at, “Where are you, Adam?” 

“When you have fasted long enough to listen to your own story—including its darkest parts— you’re better prepared to hear and hold the stories of others.” (p. 193)

“So rather than critique a friend’s desire or merely affirm it, give it ground to be explored. Ask questions. Listen to past stories and look for links. Offer an interpretation, but only if it is welcomed. If you do offer an interpretation, keep in mind the most central question of the Bible: ‘Where are you, Adam? Will you come forth and name what is true?’ If we will answer that question, we will go to God, naked and broken to receive his grace. After fasting, after taking away the demands (addictions) and the flight (shame), then in the quiet we can answer the core questions of desire: Where am I? Who am I? And what do I want to become?” (p. 193)

Where are You Adam?

I’ve been wrestling with religion this month (again). And with running (it’s spiritual). And working on my Why (never ending). They’re all intertwined in a life-taking, life-giving manner. So much so, that the knots seem more at home, providing permission to not pull apart every tangle, giving more focus to my story’s nonnegotiable foundation. 

Where are you, Debby?

“The awakening whack helps us see that we ‘move on the margin of reality like a sleepwalker.’ The more awake we become, the more we can play in the story we are called to write for others and that others are called to write on our behalf.” (p. 215)

Where are you, Debby?

Living in the “Ands”

To be told, I don’t know Dr. Dan Allender outside of how he conveys himself in the pages of a book. I’ve never met him. But after reading To Be Told (I didn’t want to put it down), I think Dr. Allender represents the many “ands” of the world that I’m learning to be more at ease with. He’s brilliant and broken. He’s humbled and at times pretentious. He’s understood and misunderstood. He’s put himself out into a bigger world—naked and ashamed. He’s a storyteller of both dark and light. He’s lost and he’s been found.

He seems like me, and maybe you too — trying to live in and through our stories the best we can.

Holy shit. Indeed.

Be Momentous

Register for my upcoming Embodiment memoir storytelling class and explore your “Why?” Virtual: Mondays, Nov. 13, 17, 27. 6-8:00 pm ET

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