A few weekends ago sitting on the deck of our friend’s lake home, each of us in the small group was asked to share our life stories. This was not a pre-planned assignment that we were ready for - just a spontaneous request from our host. An amazing thing happened as each person offered their story.
The openness and honesty became a magnet that drew all of us – closer to the person and closer to each other. The sheer knowing of another’s story was a catalyst for community. This spontaneous exercise took our group to a different level, and again I saw the power of story.
If you really want to get to know someone you need to know their story.
Eugene Peterson, in Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places, offers,
“Story is the most natural way of enlarging and deepening our sense of reality, and then enlisting us as participants in it. Stories open doors to areas or aspects of life that we didn’t know were there, or had quit noticing out of over-familiarity, or supposed were out-of-bounds to us. They then welcome us in. Stories are verbal acts of hospitality.”
When I offer my story to someone I am giving a gift of myself. And, I am receiving a gift when they offer theirs in return – a holy and precious gift because it is the story of someone’s life – a sacred story, all the pieces.
In his book Tell it Slant Eugene Peterson calls it “swapping stories” when the Apostle Paul tells his life story in Galatians(1:11-2:21) referring back to his conversations with Peter.
Each of our stories is a part of the Larger Story, an Epic, as John Eldredge calls it. This metanarrative is the overarching, all-embracing story of humankind into which all the particular stories fit. For a Christian the biblical narrative of creation, fall, redemption and new creation is the narrative of all humankind. In this sense the biblical narrative IS the metanarrative.
My story is intersecting your story in the midst of His story.
People often wonder how they can get beyond the superficial in a group, how to create community and the bonding so many of us are longing for. I would suggest this simple process – tell your stories to each other and see what happens. You might just experience a sighting of the Deity – the evidence and the presence of Christ.