Over the holidays, my husband and I finally watched the final episode of Game of Thrones.
One line which struck me most profoundly, was a response from Tyrion Lannister after a new King had been chosen, and Tyrion was appointed to be his hand, basically his chief advisor.
“No your grace, I don’t want it…I don’t deserve it. I thought I was wise, but I wasn’t. I thought I knew what was right, but I didn’t…Choose anyone else.”
“I choose you.”
There is truth and vulnerability in Tyrion’s response, which suggests he was a man whose sense of identity had been shattered. He thought he was wise and that he knew what was right. He had made decisions which aligned with what he knew, and then he watched as the city he grew up in was destroyed by someone he trusted and had chosen to serve. When he was asked in this broken place to be hand to the King, Tyrion pushes away his old desires, “no, I don’t want it”, he finds himself unworthy, “I don’t deserve it”, and ashamed, “choose anyone else”.
I can relate. I too once thought myself wise and thought I knew what was right. I trusted people who let me down. I have since seen the walls of my known world crumble to the ground. For several years now, I have felt lost as pieces of me lay broken on the ground along with the rubble of my fallen ideals. I have naturally doubted and questioned myself, and what I thought to be true and good. I have navigated deep hurt, grieved losses, and have been debilitated in my ability to make decisions. Without even realizing what I was doing, I removed myself from the running so to speak, because I found myself unworthy, and I was ashamed.
Looking back, I can see now that these past several years have been a natural, slow journey from who I thought I was to who I truly am. I thought I was wise and knew what was right. I see now that I am human.
To quote Tyrion again, “there is nothing in the world more powerful than a good story. Nothing can stop it. No enemy can defeat it.”
From where I stand today, I have a different idea about the content of a good story. I used to think it was filled with wisdom and the pursuit of good ideas and ideals. I now realize that a good story requires strife, where characters are debilitated by fear, fight costly battles, suffer losses and spend time imprisoned where they have time to think.
Navigating our way through life’s challenges may mean a loss of our sense of self. Our identity and wellbeing may be shattered, but in time we find ourselves changed. A layer of armor is removed, and we carry ourselves differently. We may find ourselves one with humanity, compassionate to her struggles, empathetic toward her needs, raw for what makes her raw, vulnerable to her shifts and changes. We may realize that life is not a matter of being wise in judging right from wrong, but about being and loving; allowing ourselves to be shattered by events, people and situations worthy of having profound impact.
Yes, a good story is a human story, which we can all relate to, where we grow, we learn, we fall, and we keep going. The terrain of our stories allow us to experience a vast array of emotions, adventures, decisions, ups and downs, highs and lows. And all of them shaping and molding us into a human who is more powerful, raw, compassionate, vulnerable, real.
Because of the mistakes you’ve made, the trials you’ve encountered, the battles you’ve faced, you carry within you a profound, significant story being written through your daily existence, and you have something remarkable and unique to contribute to the world.
Know that the battles you face, the wars raging in you, the loneliness you feel, the disappointment pulsing through your veins are all growing you and shaping your story. Keep going, and share your story with people you meet along the way, for we will each become a fuller and more complete person in the hearing of your good story.