The Stories We Tell
After nourishment, shelter, and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world. - Philip Pullman
Jesus taught in parables more than any other method of teaching---telling stories to his followers and the crowds that gathered to hear him and employing the kinds of images, metaphors, and analogies that his hearers would easily grasp.
Once his followers asked him why he told stories so often when he was addressing the crowds who would often flock to him, and Jesus gave a cryptic answer:
“Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them, it has not been granted... This is why I speak to them in parables, because ‘they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.’" Matthew 13:11-14
In other words, he told his disciples, "Listen, you get to hang out with me all of the time and get the benefit of deeper teaching, but most people need a way into what I'm trying to show them, and stories are just the best way to do that."
Stories have the power to shape the way we see ourselves and the world around us. The Phillip Pullman quote at the top of this page offers a bit of insight into how stories are also an enormous part of human development.
I want you to know something. Your story is powerful. And don't start thinking to yourself, "I don't really have a good story." You do. In fact, you have scores of them.
Our stories are important to us on so many levels. We need to be able to share our stories with people we trust so that we can get the benefit of their wisdom, and learn that sometimes the stories we've been telling about ourselves aren't that helpful.
We also need to be able to listen to ourselves as we tell our stories so we can gain understanding about who we are, heal from our hurts, grow in faith and maturity, and give ourselves grace when it's needed.
Padriag O'Tuama once wrote:
To live well is to see wisely and to see wisely is to tell stories and to tell stories is to tell of things that are always changing, because even if the stories don't change, the teller does, and so the story always moves.
I loved that quote when I read it because it spoke to me about my own particular journey. I may tell many of the same stories about my life of faith, but as I've grown, and experienced trials and triumphs, challenges, and choices, I've come to see my stories a bit differently.
But the greater story, the story of my life of stumbling after Jesus and trying to become my truest and best self, that story keeps moving. It is constantly being written, and it also needs to be shared.
Don't ever hesitate to tell your stories---even the painful ones. If you don't currently have someone in your life to listen to your stories well, start actively searching. And let yourself be surprised by what you learn in the telling.
May it be so for you today and every day from this day. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.