I’m a story teller. As a child I would tell myself stories to help me fall asleep, and one summer at camp my cabin mates had me tell them stories to do the same. But as an introvert who dread public speaking, it took a stint with Toastmasters and God’s intervention to get me in front of groups – and enjoy it.
So now I write, preach and teach. I tell stories. And most of these stories reflect my own life.
It’s been a long journey from that scared and ashamed child/teen/young adult to who I am now. It has also been only a few steps.
If you are an artist, regardless of your religion, everything you do is your witness. You cannot hide what you are. Madeleine L’Engle
I had been afraid not of actually speaking, but sharing who I was, who I am.
There are plenty of debates on how much to share and the risks of sharing. I get it. I often censure what I write, what I post, what I preach. I worry that talking about my kids at all will have a negative affect on their future employment potential. I worry that I may be encouraging some creepy guy, that without knowing good men, would turn me off to the entire male sex.
But in the end, I tell my stories. And others do too.
We no longer have the communal bread ovens, wells or city gates to gather around and share gossip and support. The replaced school bus stops, waiting rooms and front porches have become places of quick passing rather than deep conversation. Our lives no longer have built-in opportunities to be community, relegating us to scheduled coffees and self-selected events that limit interactions with those unlike ourselves.
So I tell my stories. And I read the stories of others.
We need to share. We must share.
We need to tell our children about their great-great grandparents. We need to tell our neighbors about the people who farmed the land before their house was built, or the people who lived in their apartment two decades before. We need to tell our friends about the things that really bother us and makes us happy. We need to tell co-workers that their presentation was amazing. We need to tell strangers that their quirky style is inspiring.
We need to tell. And we need to listen.
We need to connect, as it is in connecting that we are clearing away mistrust, assumptions, stereotypes, and walls. It is in sharing and receiving, in becoming vulnerable, that we grow and we help others grow.
The Word calls us to fight injustice, in our own hearts and others. Through sharing and receiving, through connecting, our rough edges are worn down and our light becomes brighter.
Gracious God, help us break down the walls that we so easily ignore. Help us tell our stories, the stories that You have given us, so that we all may move closer to your Kingdom. Amen.