the power of the story

Stories become more true in the telling.

I started this blog because I wanted a place to reflect and write as I sought to live a better story with my life, something I was challenged to do after reading A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, by Donald Miller.

Stories are intrinsic to our lives. We tell them every day – stories of conversations overheard on a bus, about the strange dish we had at a restaurant last night, the holiday we had, the dream which woke us in the middle of the night and the prank we played once on our younger siblings. We love to tell our story. We want to be known, heard, laughed at.

Tonight we went to see the movie “The Help” and I was reminded again of how powerful it is when someone who has never been able to tell their story, has the opportunity to do so. Without spoiling it, a young female writer listens to, and writes the stories of the “helps,” the African-American women who tend to the wealthy white families in Jackson Mississippi in the 1960s. I was horrified to watch the way that the white people, especially the women, treated African-Americans, – who were practically raising their children, generation after generation, for them. How could humans treat other humans this way? Fear, manifesting itself in various ways seemed to keep people quiet and compliant with the status quo.

It is a profoundly moving film. It has inspired me to write, and to keep seeking and listening out for the stories that need to be told, to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves and to live in faith, without fear for breaking the status quo. Because stories do become more true in the telling.

In the last couple of years I have had the opportunity on a few occasions to tell the story of my life – from earliest childhood memories to the present, and I have listened to the stories of those who listened to mine. On one of those occasions, I had forty minutes to tell it and it took all that time. It is a most humbling, emotional and wonderful experience all at the same time – both for the listener and the story-teller. It is my hope that others get to have this opportunity sometime in their lives.

Our lives are stories, and the days, months, years ahead – they are blank pages waiting to be written. What will I write in my story tomorrow? And whose story can I listen to, that it might become more true?

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