What’s Your Story?

“So…where are you from?”

Last night I was at a gathering for young business leaders and people who want to make an impact on society. As we got to know each other over cheese fondue, we asked all the ‘normal’ small talk questions.
And there it was again.
The harmless inquiry on my biography that makes my insides curl up and my words tangle up in my mouth. 

Where do I even begin?

As TCKs we are well acquainted with these awkward questions on where we’re from or what we call home. When we don’t have an easy answer straight away we’re often faced with blank stares or even more questions.

So I crafted different versions of my story: the short version for superficial chats, the long version for someone who’s really interested.
I tend to leave parts out which might only bore the others, I rather zoom in on the good parts, the stories that make you laugh or wonder.

Don’t we all find ourselves in such places at times?

Our life stories are supposed to look perfect. We brush them up with Instagram filters and hide the parts we’d rather not make public. We’re all about sharing – even if we actually just share parts of it. 


I sometimes wonder if we don’t miss out on a lot of great things by editing our life stories.
We show ourselves, but only parts of us.
What if we revealed something else?
What if we gave someone the gift of the unedited, raw pieces of our lives?
What if we unveiled the dark spots in our story – the doubts, the unanswered questions, the experiences that don’t make sense?
What if we added a bit more color to the otherwise perfect picture?

Our stories are the greatest gift we have.
When we share from ourselves we invite someone else to get to know us, the real us.
We actually get to know and love ourselves more by embracing our own stories, all of it.
And we allow the Lord to reveal a bit more of himself in our broken narratives.

Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

[#write31days] Day 3 The Breakdown

Welcome to Day 3 of #write31days! 
For more information check out the series’ page

I was doing too much, my back and my wrists had been telling me for months. Studying, preparing congresses and camps, typing thousands of words per day. Sleeping too little and eating at unhealthy times.
Thinking I could do it all. 

When I look back I sometimes marvel how I managed to do as much as I did. I guess a good portion of adrenaline and a great amount of God’s grace strengthened and saw me through.
When I look back I always knew it all had to come to an end some day. Sooner or later.

Over New Year’s I could see the congress I’d been working on for a year come to life – what an experience! Despite a lack of sleep and constant running I got to know the sweetest people who blessed me with their work, their jokes, and their encouragement. I was worn out, but I was happy.
Right after I had to get back to my books and study for my finals. Five years of studies came to an end with written and oral exams in February and April. I couldn’t complain about the results.
I was done. The stress was over. I could get back to my life.

A week after finals I went to lead a TCK camp. No matter how exhausted or busy I was, these camps had always been a time to refresh and have fun. These people were my second family.
But this time it was different. I came completely empty, not ready to give anything. Nothing. 

day2aWhen it was time to meet and have fun, I wanted to run and be alone. When it was time to dig into the Word and talk about it, I wondered if all of this even made sense. I had my facade ready to show off, but behind it there was emptiness. Nothing.
I started leading worship, trying to brush over it with music, but I couldn’t.
Instead of adoration there was disgust.

Instead of love there was hatred. For the people in front of me, for the musicians next to me, for the words of the songs that meant nothing to me at the moment.

I had to get out. 

So I did. I cut the song short, got up from the piano and ran.
In tears. Horrified by who I was at that moment. That stranger in my skin I didn’t know anymore.

I lost it that day.
The strength to go any further.
The passion for what I love to do.
The love and emotional energy to give to others.
The ability to let others pour into me.
The eyes to see how wonderful the world is. 
The heart that seeks the Lord in good and bad times.

Yet, I somehow mustered up the courage to tell a friend about it. It was good to hear, “You’re not alone in this. It’s time to stop and rest. It’s time to change.” 
She was right. Something had to change.

Have you ever felt like you ‘lost’ it? In what circumstances was it more difficult for you to feel passion and energy for God, other people, or your job?  

[#write31days] Day 1 Welcome to My Life

Welcome to Day 1 of #write31days!
For more information check out the series’ page

A day sometime in August 2013.
My alarm clock rings at 6.30 am. Before I get out of bed my mind is wide awake, making mental notes of everything I have to do today. 
I make myself a cup of coffee and by 7am I am at my desk, ready to work. The early morning hours are the only time of day I am somewhat productive. I finish writing a paper for my professor, then move on to my daily reading chores for my master’s thesis. The amount of notes grows and grows and in the back of mind I worry a bit how I will ever fit all of this in comprehensive sentences.
By 10 am I take a breakfast break and rub my wrists which slowly start to itch. This pain has become my companion in the last few busy months. Your state board exams with a double degree sure don’t come easy.

The afternoon is reserved for responding to emails. Despite my full university schedule I joined a team to organize a Europe-wide youth congress over New Year’s. This meant about 50 emails to respond to per day. Most of them with good questions or encouragements. Some of them with complaints and impossible requests.
My hands are in pain by now, my back begs me to stop, but I keep going.


Concentration is harder to maintain now, so I keep getting distracted by social media. As I scroll down the page I see pictures of the perfect wedding, the perfect first baby, the perfect date, the perfect vacation in paradise.
I sigh. What am I doing here? Sitting and working, while others are living their lives.

The phone rings. A guy from church asks if I could lead worship in church on Sunday. I say yes because there’s no one else who could do it.

I get back to my emails. I am responsible for a TCK camp in October and haven’t prepared anything yet. Another busy weekend, but spending time with TCKs is like being with family, so I agreed to do it.

A friend texts me and asks if I want to meet up tonight, but I say no. I am just too busy. As much as I miss the company of people in the midst of busyness, I am way too exhausted to even see someone else.

Around 8 pm I start packing because I’ll visit my family tomorrow. Haven’t seen them in a while, so it’s time. There seems to be trouble at home, and I should come to ‘fix it.’

I check my phone, but there are no new messages or emails. A day without human interaction. My depressed self thinks, “No one really cares.” My angry self thinks, “Why doesn’t anyone respond when I need them the most?” My sad self leaves disappointed.

At 10 pm I start cooking and have dinner while watching an episode of some show I don’t even remember the name of. My wrists are covered in ice packs, the only way to deal with the pain.

All I want is to sleep and get ready to do it all over again tomorrow.

How does a ‘normal’ day in your life look like? How much do you do for others? What do you for yourself and for pleasure? 

[Disclaimer: Some of the following might sound a bit exaggerated. But all of this is true. Even though not of all this took place on one single day, it serves as an example of what a life without boundaries might look like.]