Sunday, February 1, 2009

Telling Our Stories

Last week during the big winter storm, I left my house an hour before we were required to be at work. I navigated the ice encrusted streets, driving about 20 mph the whole way. I gripped the steering wheel with white knuckles and concentrated on the road conditions and the drivers around me to see when they might swerve. I made it to the parking lot and thought the worst was over.

That thought passed quickly when I stepped out of the car and lost my footing, despite wearing my man-like water boots. I stumbled and slid my way across the lot to a fence, gripping it like the banister around a roller rink. I treated passersby to free entertainment as I skated across the street with a look of fear emblazoned on my face.

Once inside the building, I couldn't stop talking and neither could anyone else. Everyone shared their stories about the daring drive in to work and the "almost" catastrophes of trying to walk on the ice.

Contrast these conversations with conversations on a non-winter-storm day. The scary and embarrassing parts of our lives remain hidden. We're not so quick to talk about what is really going on in our lives.

But I was reminded through our sermon today that living life in community is messy. It's dirty and painful to get involved in other people's lives. To listen to their hurts and struggles and to share your own. To trust others with your story.

But the truth is "our" stories aren't really ours to begin with. Yes, we are often the main actor/actress in our stories. But that doesn't make the story ours to keep. Our stories were meant to be shared. If you've gone through a difficult time and made it to the other side but shared the details with no one, how can others in a similar situation be encouraged? Similarly, if you've had something wonderful happen in your life but kept it a secret, how can others help you celebrate?

It's not easy because we don't practice this much. But the next time you are quick to share a story about something routine, think about another story that you might be willing to share. One that might have a positive, life-changing effect on someone. Be bold and share the latter.


kasogayle said...

Remember those "themes" I mentioned before? Well, that sermon series Dallas started about a month ago was titled "Story.." - and it was about this exact same subject! God is funny. I guess he thinks I need it pounded into my head.

Sars said...

Great thought, Alyssa. That connection never occurred to me, thanks for mentioning it.

Renae said...

Hi Alyssa! I read this earlier in the day, and it has stayed with me all day. There are some things about our lives (my life) that are difficult to share. (What would they think of me if they knew?) And some things that are just painful to bring up.

But you are right. During the difficult times of my life so far, it has helped to hear from someone who has walked that road before me, and come out victorious on the other side.

We all want to make good impressions on people, and not let them see our weaknesses. But truly, what most people are really looking for is transparency.

As always, great post, my friend!

Alyssa said...

K - I love how we are studying the same themes!

S - You're welcome.

R - There's definitely a delicate balance to be achieved between dumping information at every opportunity and being completely closed off. I think it boils down to transparency as you mentioned. Authenticity is key for strong relationships.

Krista said...

There you go again, able to make these great spiritual implications out of, well, this time, your graceful (wasn't it graceful??) adventure across the parking lot! As I have said before, your future children are going to benefit incredibly from this God given gift!! Just like we do....