The Bigger Story, Part 1: Story.
Updated: Aug 5, 2019
By Nigel Mohammed
They buried the famous missionary David Livingstone’s heart in Africa because that
is where it belonged. If you died tomorrow, where would they bury your heart?
The heart is central, for out of it flows our true authentic life and being. We were all shaped by people, places and experiences and this is where our story begins, in the home. A good home is where important words have been spoken, which have established identity, defined our vocation and even envisioned destiny. As the saying goes ‘the mother gives you roots and the father gives you wings to fly’. Roots and wings, but if you don’t have any roots and therefore no wings to fly, what story do you live in?
A very wounded and broken story is what you live in.
I am Asian-Caribbean-British and was put into the care system just after I was born, had no parents to shape me and so I went through much of my life without knowing who I really was and what I had to offer the world. I had no roots and no wings to fly, so like a lion cub cut off from its mother and father, I wandered through the jungle, hungry, lost, scared, and did what I could to survive. That was the story that shaped me - survival and a heart that was buried in resignation.
Many years of attaching to destructive subcultures compounded my broken identity. A life of crime in my teenage years and drugs in my twenties were the symptoms of the pain of no roots to form me. Like a bird with a broken wing locked up in a tiny cage, I limped through life, literally as well because a car accident in my late twenties disabled me and sentenced me to a life of chronic pain.
When we live in a broken and wounded story and what it does to our hearts, it becomes our default to look at our story through the cracked mirror of that brokenness. It is only the radical wild love and grace of Jesus whose death and resurrection provide me with a radically different perspective in which to view the landscape of my historic story.
To bury the deepest longing and desires of the heart is not a healthy or good thing, for we then ‘live’ a life of ‘just getting by’ which is a deep unconscious settling for the normal status quo, or passivity.
Yet somewhere in our hearts there is a place that knows we are living from someone else’s script and we are playing a role that we know deeply with all our being simply does not fit who we really are. It is only as we allow what surfaces in our hearts to speak to us and walk through the pain of our deepest root wounds that we can live in a different story. In other words, you have to walk toward your deepest pain in order to come out the other side and experience a deep inner shift, ultimately by the love of God as revealed in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, that empowers us to live from a place of inner rest, not for approval but from approval.
For countless men and women with no home that provided healthy roots and no wings to fly into a calling and destiny, survival is the script that we live out of. Men need to live in a bigger story as do women, but healthy masculinity sacrifices for others and offers life not death. If survival shapes you, then you become very good at isolating yourself. As humans we need to attach to something, for like a branch cut off from a tree, isolation withers our heart and we wither and die inside. Moreover, we cannot be fruitful. Only safe healthy relationships heal.
Men are good at isolating themselves, like the wounded animal that retreats into the cave to lick its wounds, but if you don’t want to get hurt, then don’t get too near the wounded animal.
As I behold the landscape of Western culture, what is the view really like if I am to face reality? The story we have lived in will affect what we see in our cultural landscape.
There seems to be a colossal epidemic of fatherlessness and addiction with men, with no roots or wings to fly.
Nigel Mohammed is a teacher, mentor, author and public speaker. He has worked with homeless men and has provided mentoring for younger men; he has worked overseas with women and children at risk; he has worked in leadership development and has ran men's groups.
Nigel is passionate about his Christian faith, and today he serves his community by equipping other men to ''live in a story bigger than themselves''.
He is currently developing a variety of courses that he will run at a local community hub he is a part of.
Nigel and his wife live in Worthing, West Sussex.