A few weeks ago, I went on a trip with a local youth choir to perform a musical, “Saints and Sinners,” in prisons and churches. I am an awful singer, but I’m a decent actress. Additionally, I happen to be quite good at making sure props get loaded onto the bus and put in the proper location, so they let me tag along. During the weeks leading up to our departure, I was so stressed that I would have told anyone that I never wanted to go on one of those trips again. But then we went, and I was so glad I did.
Earlier this year, I wrote about playing Mayella Ewell in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” I talked about her story, how it was a story that needed to be told, and how I hated having to be the one to tell it. Both of these shows had the same director, Owen, and thankfully, this time he didn’t make me play a character I hated to become. I played Everyman, the allegorical character representing all of mankind. (No pressure, right?) Anyway, God sends death to her and the rest of the play details her search to find out what to do and what to say when she has to make her stand before God the following day. There are so many wonderful, powerful, and beautiful moments in the script that I wish I could share with you all. (Owen wrote this one as well; he did a lovely job.) Since that’s completely unrealistic, I’ll just share my favorite. In the final scene, moments before she is to make an account of her life before the Lord, Everyman talks to Death, whom she finally acknowledges as her friend. Throughout the rest of the play, she has been snappy, rude, and grossed out by Death while he has attempted to help her and become her friend. It’s such a sweet moment of friendship to look over at one of my dearest friends, Andrew, and finally be able to say, “Death, my friend, what should I do? What do I say?” He then tells me to say and do nothing, leaving me with the question, “If I do nothing, how can I stand?” And he says, “Don’t stand. Fall.”
To be completely honest, when we first started rehearsing, I was not the biggest fan of Everyman. She hangs out in bars, is entirely too attached to material things, and did not appear to posses any of the fruits of kindness, goodness, faithfulness, or gentleness. I understood that she was supposed to represent everyone, but I was overcome with the attitude of a good Christian girl that I all too often find myself possessing. I was convinced that she did not, under any circumstances represent me. Then I read a note that Owen wrote for me that said, “I’ve taken to abbreviating Everyman in my notes—- Eve. Thanks for representing all of us.” After that, I began to love Everyman. Because she’s me and you and every single one of us. Every night I played her, I found myself loving her even more, and I found myself being so honored to represent the human race—- our falling and our rising. I think that a lot of the time Eve gets associated with and blamed for the fall of man… We forget that if we didn’t fall, we’d never know what it feels like to finally rise.
One of the absolute best experiences I have ever had was performing in Angola Prison, the largest maximum security prison in the United States. I’ll never be able to explain how it feels to be in the presence of people who will never know earthly freedom again but who have a much greater freedom in Christ while at the same time having the chance to share that freedom with those who have not yet experienced the love and peace that is found in Him. They sang along, understood all the jokes, and more importantly, understood the deeper message better than any of the sheltered kids from a small town ever could. It was a night filled with tears, joy, and the Spirit.
This show told the most beautiful story in the entire world in such a wonderful way. And I absolutely loved to tell this story. To the prison guard who called me baby and talked about how much talent God had given me. To the sweet nurse on our trip who took care of me when I got sick and had faith that could move mountains. To the lady checking me out of the hospital who was just diagnosed with cancer and talked to me about God. To the prisoner whose sentence just got reduced but was expected to die of cancer before he would be released. To the little kids who had never seen a live performance. I just adored being able to tell this story.
The really amazing part of this whole thing, though, is that despite the fact that the run of the show is over, I still get to tell the story of Jesus and his love. I don’t have to be Everyman; I can just be me. I tell the story every second of every day with the way I speak to people, the way I treat the least of these, and the way I go about living my life. I hope I tell it well, and I pray that I tell it to those who need it most.
There is an enchantingly beautiful form of writing called six word stories. People tell a story in six words. That’s it. Just six words, and some of them are honestly the most incredible things I’ve ever read, so I’ll leave you with these two six word stories:
Christ has infinite love for YOU.
I love to tell the story.
1 Corinthians 16:23-24,