In their book entitled “The Intimate Mystery’, Dan Allender and Tremper Longman touch on something that has long been an assumption of mine, but I failed to capture it so clearly. Storytelling, in short, is critical to our well being. We are all storytellers and how we treasure our stories and one another’s will directly impact the depth and health of our relationships.
Listen to Allender and Longman:
“Stories are meant to run the gamut from a glimpse into the day’s activities, to mythic tall tales of one’s family’s origin, to the glories and tragedies of one’s personal and corporate past. In our culture a family is inevitably surrounded by stories as the television drones its tiresome fare, DVDs re replayed and music hints at stories embedded in its lyrics. We can’t escape stories, nor would we want to, but few married couples make use of their stories for the sake of intertwining their souls.
One of the great tragedies of a divorce is the loss of stories. If you divorce, to whom will you tell the stories of how you met, the birth of your first child, the day the phone call informed you of your father’s death? It is not merely the future that is lost in divorce; it is also the past….
A good rule of thumb: every story once told opens the heart to new data in a new telling. But that won’t occur unless the listening spouse is curious and reencounters the story with the sensitivity of a fresh hearing.” (p. 71)
Now, there is so much there, but think about the ‘rule of thumb’. What happens if you and I give someone the gift of our curiosity and our attention? What happens if we encounter the gospel story afresh? What happens if we encounter afresh the story of your friend’s dreams, your children’s fears, or your spouse’s desires? Storytelling is no small thing, but neither is the appreciation of a story being told.
What I miss most about my grandfather being gone is the loss of his stories. And when I travel for work, I so miss the stories that the children tell of their school day, their excitement over that class or the other friend. Stories shape us and help us make sense of one another. A good reminder: enjoy another person’s story today and you’ll be better off for it. After all, aren’t we all craving the same thing, namely this: someone to come along, listen to our story, and cherish it like its more valuable than gold? The name we use is often ‘love’; the discipline is storytelling.