story time

I’ve had the privilege of hearing a variety of stories lately. Straight from the people who have lived or are living the situation. I’ve also shared bits and parts of my story recently. And I’ve found people are appreciative I’ve told it, just as I am to hear others tell theirs.

I don’t believe you can truly know a person until you open up. I don’t believe you can truly help anyone until you know what they are facing or have faced in the past.

We need examples. Models to follow. And someone to offer a pat on the back. Or a prayer.

Speaking of prayer. I’ve realized as of late how much is shared around prayer. Talk a little then pray. Or how much people can come to realize by praying for a person. I might not know much of anything about someone. But by praying, I think I can see just a little into their being. Their soul. Oh, nothing magical happens. But through vulnerability, it’s easier to see.

Through opening up, I have seen I have so much in common with people I would have never guessed, and in turn I also can reap benefits from being around people I truly have little in common with. We all share so much. And what we don’t share naturally, we can offer each other.

Wouldn’t life be so much easier if we just shared openly? Laid it all out? Not to everyone. But to the people who are willing to listen. Those who stick around and ask a few questions. Sometimes we’re offered a captive audience and it’s our obligation to expound. Partly because someone needs to hear. Maybe just one someone. And partly because in telling, we are able to experience just a little more healing.

I received a card in the mail the other day, basically thanking me for sharing part of my story. An encouragement. It’s so much easier to swap recipes, discuss the weather, play a game of cards. And while those are all fine things to do, they don’t take us quite as deep with each other as blabbing away about what we’ve experienced.

A friend and I talked this past week about “at least” statements. You’ve heard them. They’re comparisons, really. At least you don’t have cancer. At least you have a job. At least you have one child. At least you have hair on your head. At least you still have time.

I’ve been known to throw an at least at people. And it’s wrong. I should listen and truly hear someone’s story without comparing. Without sizing it up. Listen with compassion. There will always be a sadder story. A longer story. A more complicated situation and someone who has been through much, much more. But because one person hurts a lot doesn’t mean someone else can’t hurt a little. And life is relative to what you’ve experienced, right?

I have always enjoyed my parents’ tales of their childhoods. I can’t wait to hear my daughter’s first hand accounts of her experiences this school year in Europe. I am glad my church is in the midst of a series in which people share their struggles verbally. I’m happy to have gotten to know a few people better these last months, simply because we were able to tell our stories.

“The key to a healthy society is a thriving community of storytellers.” – Franco Sacchi

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