Stories have been a bit of theme for us over the last few years, we’ve worked to learn how to use them well as teaching tools, to weave our story into God’s grand story, to show others how to do the same. We’ve listened as we’ve made new friends and learned their stories, cherishing the moments when we are invited into their journey. We’ve learned a few things through these moments. We’ve come to discover that stories hold power. They hold power over the story teller, threatening to suffocate the soul if not shared with someone, somehow. They hold power over the listener, inviting a person into a place, a life that doesn’t belong to them. Stories have the power to release us from the chains of shame and fear. Stories have the power to inspire us, empower us, and allow us to be known.
I was reading a book recently and came across this quote about people sharing the hard stories of their lives:
The storyteller says, “This is my wound. This is what happened to me, and it’s important. It’s not important because I’m the only one who suffered. No. It’s important because I suffered and I’m important.” *
I stopped when read this, wondering at the simple truth represented here. When you listen to my hard stories, when you recognize that my pain is important, you recognize that I, as a person, am important. But the truth does not stop there. When you recognize that I am important and you can share a story that demonstrates that God, creator of the World, recognizes that I am important you provide hope. By accepting my story, you recognize me as a person. By sharing a story about God, presenting me with hope, you invite me into a story of hope far beyond my own story. My story has value, my story contributes to the whole story, but my story is not isolated or removed. My story is recognized, validated, and included in the storyline of life. I matter.
Perhaps this is the greatest reality in storytelling. We invite the simple stories of our individual lives to come face to face with the great story of the universe. The story of a God who sent his son to live among us, to suffer for us, and to provide the way for us to be reconciled to God, others, and ourselves. When we share the stories of God, we invite others to bring forth their stories and match it up with God’s story. We invite them to discover truth through the lives of others. We introduce others to God in a way a lecture, a theological debate, or a persuasive paper cannot. When we share stories, we share life. When we share life, we are a community. When we are a community, we discover truth together. When we discover truth, we live in freedom.
* In the Land of the Blue Burqas