Being in community with others helps bring balance to our lives. Sharing our stories helps us develop community.
I was just looking over my notes from the Storyline Conference I attended in San Diego last February. Donald Miller has been one of my favorite authors since I first read Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality. But it was his book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years that really made an impact on my life. In the book he compares the making of a movie about his life to the story that we are writing in our own lives.
Are you living the story you want to live?
Is your story purposeful?
If not, what needs to change in your life to write a better story?
Here are some quotes that I wrote down (I think it was during Donald Miller’s opening talk).
Jesus is calling us into meaning. God didn’t create us to live in reaction (to the things happening around us) but to be co-creators of a meaningful life (with Him). God gave you a blank book. Together, are you writing a meaningful story?
And my favorite
What will the world miss if you don’t tell your beautiful story?
As a hospice nurse, I see the value of stories every day. The stories I carry of the patients that I have cared for make me a better nurse. The story I lived with one ALS patient and his family will make me an even better nurse when caring for my next ALS patient. When I meet with a family whose loved one has just been told they have weeks to live, they have a need to share their story. When I meet with dying patients, life review and sharing their stories is some of the important work that people do at the end of life.
Sharing our stories as we build friendships is also important, but it should be a give and take. You share part of yours, I will share part of mine. And piece by piece, the picture on the puzzle becomes clear.
And believe me, EVERYONE has a story.
Why it’s important to share your story:
Sharing your heart with someone, telling them your story, is how we get to know one another. Beyond just the “How are you doing today?” “Oh, fine, how are you?” To be brave enough to tell your story is to take off the mask and show where you came from, how you have grown, who you are now, and who you hope to be. That is the beginning of a reciprocal, heart-to-heart friendship.
Why it’s important to listen to another person’s story:
Of course there is the obvious, because that is how you get to know them. But it goes much deeper than that. When someone shares part of their story, they are giving you a little piece of themselves. If you are flippant or callous, or even if you just aren’t fully present, they may not share again with you. If we treat the gift of their story with an open heart, a present being, and hands of gentle grace no matter what they tell us, we build trust, which paves the way for friendship and deeper community.
Why EVERYONE’S story is important:
I have learned in the past few years that if I have an instant dislike for someone, or if they rub me the wrong way, one of the most important (and difficult) things to do is to take time to learn their story. In the past I would be more likely to just avoid difficult people, especially people who seem purposely cruel or who treat others poorly. But I found that as I took time to listen to them, to ask questions, to spend time with them, little by little, puzzle piece by puzzle piece, they would give me bits of their story. (Trust is very hard for difficult people). And as I started putting the puzzle of their story together, it helped me to love them more. As they shared ever so cautiously about the pain in their lives, it helped me to understand their anger, or their refusal to help others, or their habit of lashing out. From there, even if I don’t like their behavior or the way they treat others, I can try to understand where they are coming from.
Hearing the stories of difficult people helps me to give them the gift of grace.
So, what kind of story are you writing?
What do you need to change to write a better story?
With whom will you share a piece of your story this week?
Who’s story will you listen to this week?