I listen to action stories without seeing any action. I listen to tales of bravery and valor without seeing any movement. Words and emotions flow, apparently without the heart and passion to make them real. Hope invited and dismissed without anything to show for it. It is hard to describe, yet I find myself returning to food metaphors. In short, it feels as if I am eating calories without anything in them. There is no substance. I cannot taste any flavor. There is no point to eating what is being served.
A part of me wants to throw the conversation away. There is little point responding because there is nothing of substance. Stories of fitness aspirations are shared with limitless enthusiasm without any time spent exercising. Stories of discipline and study are shared without evidence of either.
Life whispers that there is another option.
First, model the action you hope others will take. My life can be a story that is told by what I do. Making an old prayer come true is a starting point; “Let me shout God’s name with a praising song, let me tell his greatness in a prayer of thanks.” (Psalm 69.30) Committed time for reflection and exercise is another. I can speak in a way that is often heard by the heart with the actions I take.
Second, affirm the aspirations of others and express the hope that you will hear the individual in action with the stories to come. Hope lives when we give it voice in responding to the visions of others. Hope also helps others do what they normally only dream of doing. We can be part of helping others make it real.
Third, be patient always. Life is always a lot harder than it seems. Everyone has a story. Repeating our actions and affirmation in quiet ways is an expression of patience. Listen with the intent of hearing. There are invitations to act within each story.
Stories are invitations to be part of something more than just us. They are opportunities that call us to action.