What’s your story?
Our society and our lives are missing out on stories. The art of storytelling is dying and yet we all know how uplifting it can be to hear a good story.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve really noticed this. Firstly, I read this excellent interview with Justin Lee where he said:
I think we Christians should be more in the habit of asking the people we encounter in our lives: “Tell me your story.”
Why was the woman at the well so impressed with Jesus? It was because he knew her story. That alone made her eager to listen to him and bring others to do the same.
Our God is a personal God, and as the Body of Christ, we have an obligation to represent God by taking an interest in people’s lives and stories.
Then, this week I went along to the amazing Bring the Happy performance by an art group called Invisible Flock and the band Hope & Social (read my review here). At the core of the project was the question ‘what’s your happiest memory?’ The artists shared all their findings and something that struck me was that in asking this question, you really touch on who a person is and where they come from. Although the question was about happiest memories it often brought out sadness and grief as well. It goes to the heart of what it is to be human.
What’s your happiest memory?
How does it make you feel recalling it? How would you answer this question? What does it reveal about you?
We need more testimony I think in our conversations. So much of our conversation is banal and meaningless. When do we touch on the deeper things of life? When I say testimony what I mean is the sharing of our stories – either what has happened to us in the past or what is going on right now, and for Christians, we can share how God is or has been present in that.
I went to Wednesday eucharist this week at our church and got talking afterwards to one of the old ladies. We were talking about being scared of spiders. She went on to tell me an incredibly moving story of how her husband had always dealt with spiders in the house as she was terrified of them. Then one day he said to her, “you know, Lily, I’m terrified of spiders too”, and she slowly plucked up the courage to learn how to get rid of them herself. She shared that she realised that he’d told her he was scared of them too so that she would be able to deal with them when he had gone.
I was really struck by this. What a moving story and just over a cup of tea after a church service!
Hearing all the memories shared at the Bring the happy event was like being drenched in these beautiful poignant moments of people’s lives. The undercurrent of sadness, though, was what brought us together. There was a strong sense of ‘fellowship’ in the room as these stories were shared of love lost, opportunities missed and funny childhood incidents.
Thinking in terms of evangelism (what a dirty word!) – or as I like to put it, sharing one’s faith – I think we could do worse than to ask people ‘what’s your story?’ and maybe tell ours as well, whether a sad story or a happy one. Those of us who are Christians can see how God has been present in our lives and it is most often in those darkest moments that we have felt God’s presence most keenly. Just as in the performance I attended, it was in the sad stories that the atmosphere shifted and we felt a solidarity with one another.
So next time you meet up with a friend or start talking to someone after church, why not be daring and ask them what their happiest memory is, or where their favourite place is and why? Let’s start connecting with each other on a deeper level and see what it shows us about life, the universe and everything.
“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” – Colossians 4:6
Following on from some of the comments on this post I would encourage you, if you are a Christian, to watch and use this video as a springboard for talking about evangelism in your church community and with your friends:
Find out more on the website tell.show.be.