Stories are important.
Even as a child, it was stories that cultivated the person I am today. They caused me to believe in hope, adventure, beauty, and impossible things made possible. They helped me to understand hurt, pain, disappointment, and fear. They also caused me to become fascinated with people, the world, and culture. These things have shaped me, and now that I am older, influence the way I make decisions, relate to people, and view life.
I am one of the biggest advocates for anything that tells a story, especially a true story, that can move people.
When I say “move people”, I mean that in many different ways.
We have the power to move people emotionally through stories. This means nudging someone from their “comfort zone” of emotions, and moving them into a new realm of emotions. Sometimes this comes in the form of simply from being numb to actually feeling something. Other times it can be moving from apathy to empathy. It can be moving from heartless to broken-hearted… a heart that breaks for something that is not right.
We can also move people physically through stories. We can inspire people through our words to make changes in how they look at, speak, act, or relate. Sometimes when we hear about someone else’s choices, circumstances, or changed lives it stirs up the motivation to DO something. Someone who has a struggling marriage and hears the story about someone else’s marriage who was saved by going to counseling may suddenly be moved from giving up to attending counseling with their spouse. Someone else may hear the same story and be inspired to take classes to become a certified counselor… while someone else may be moved from judging those who go to counseling, to becoming an advocate for counseling.
My favorite way that stories can move people is spiritually. Do you ever hear a story and think, “I feel like God was speaking directly to me through that?” I know this happens to me quite a bit, and what always amazes me is how God can take one person’s story and use it to speak to people in a variety of ways. He also takes the same story and use it to teach us something completely new during a new season of our lives. This happens to me over and over again. The story of Esther in the Bible has always been one of my favorites, and in different seasons of life God has used this story to teach me about faith, patience, injustice, deliverance, courage/bravery, trust, and beauty. In my life, stories have moved me from the place I once was to a richer, deeper, more intimate relationship with God. And in those hours, days, weeks, or even months when I feel off track spiritually… it amazes me how one person’s story can awaken something new in me spiritually.
Not all stories are worth sharing… but some are. Some really, really are. And to be quite honest, it’s usually the hardest stories to tell that are the ones that are most worth telling.
I think it takes great amounts of wisdom to know what those stories are, and when to share them. But know this: Your stories can change lives.
Don’t underestimate your story. It may not be flashy. It may not be dramatic. It may not be pretty. And it may not be over.
But it might be exactly what someone else needs to hear… from where you’ve been or from where you are, your story may be able to move someone in a right and good direction that could forever change their life. Isn’t that worth sharing?
And so again I close with this: Stories are important. Really, really important.
“If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”