Everyone loves a story. I served for many years as a pastor. Several times over the years, someone would mention a particular sermon that I had preached, and they never remembered much of the content or the specific point. They did always remember a story I told. Stories connect us, and they are picture windows that let us see into a person’s heart and life.
All of us have a story. Our stories help us learn, remember, and grow. Stories help us make sense out of the difficult, help us to develop empathy, and help us see connections that were there all the time.
Stories are about memories. My grandmother was a great story-teller. I could sit and listen to her by the hour. Her tales of life, faith, disappointment, victory, and loss all left me wanting to hear more. She weaved the history of our family, and in telling about relatives who were gone before I was born, I developed a sense that I knew them. How often over these past thirty-six years since her passing have I wished I could hear her talk about her life one more time. Often a snippet of memory comes to my mind, and since the years have dulled my recollections, I wish I could ask her once again to help me keep the stories alive in my heart. One cannot get locked into the past, but memories are an essential part of the fabric of our lives.
Your story helps others. When you share your experiences, your life story helps to inform and empower as well as inspire others. If you are not well known in the group, this would be especially true. They may think you have always been doing what you are doing now. There is a temptation to believe that others have not had to struggle or have experienced setbacks, heartache, or disappointment. When people discover what you have been able to overcome, they start to believe that they can make it as well.
Your story is a work in progress. Your story did not end when.. you fill in the blank! Bad things happen to people; some have had to endure horrific things. Do not let your story end that way. Let faith, overcoming, resilience, determination, and transformation be a part of your story. If you are experiencing pain and heartbreak today, never forget that your story is not over and allow God to help you write a new chapter.
Telling your story will help you and others as well:
- Telling the story helps you accept what you cannot change. There are some things in life I can change, and there are some things that I cannot change. With the help of the Holy Spirit, you can be transformed and not imprisoned by your past.
- Telling your story can give you energy! You are excited to share how things have changed, and in the telling, you share your passion. Several times this has happened to me. With the distance of age and the grace of God, I can say today that many of the things happened ‘for’ me! What seemed awful at the time, was instead an event that made me trust God more as my character was being hammered out on the anvil of life. It is hard to accept this when you are going through difficulty. Amazingly I can look back at a few painful events and see how God has used it for my benefit.
- Understanding my story helps me in my relationships with others. Knowing my story and hearing the life stories of others has helped me to develop empathy. Understanding and appreciation comes when others are vulnerable and share about their lives.
- Stories help us to connect. When you know someone’s story, and they know yours a connection is developed.
An excellent exercise for a staff meeting would be to put everything else aside and go around the room and give everyone a few minutes to tell at least a part of their story. Have them share something that will help everyone to learn something about the person that they do not know. Story-sharing could be an excellent way for the group to come together and connect. That is the power of a story. Stories operate like relational glue
I would love to hear your story!