The Power of a Story (plus, 10 things we fear)April 14th, 2011
Everyone likes stories. I think.
"Researcher story-teller" Brene Brown defined story as, "data with a soul."
A more stodgy definition is, "An account or recital of an event or a series of events, either true or fictitious." (source)
For an example of a brief, well-told story, you might enjoy this short piece about a conversation between two ladies Donald Miller overheard at a restaurant. I enjoyed it.
In fact, this story really touched me – and challenged me. It raised questions: Why am I not always honest in my relationships? Why do I have this tendency to always want to, "smooth things over" instead of speaking plain truth?
Sure, I understand there is a balance between truth and love, but when I catch myself talking ill about someone behind their back, it’s probably time I be talking directly with the offending party.
Does my reluctance in being straight-forward in delicate situations come from a fear of hurting others? Or a fear that I’ll get an angry response? Or a fear they’ll even reject me completely if I speak the truth? Probably all the above.
What’s amazing is that this short story Miller told raised all these questions within me, and affected me at a core level. That is the power of story.
As an aside, regarding fear, I heard this quote recently, "Sin is nearly always born out of fear, and codified in pride."
Here are some things we can fear:
- We fear that God won’t work all things together for good, so manipulate circumstances to help God out.
- We fear that God won’t lead (or will lead where we don’t want), so take the wheel instead.
- We fear that God won’t meet our deepest needs, so look for quick substitutes to meet our own needs.
- We fear that God does not exist, so live as if this world is all there is.
- We fear that God does exist, and that we’re in big trouble.
- We fear death, so hedge our lives with safety nets.
- We fear life, so drug ourselves with entertainment’s amnesia.
- We fear losing our stuff, so insure everything.
- We fear intimacy, so build walls around our hearts.
- We fear fear, but don’t know how to stop.
I shouldn’t say, "we." I should say, "I." I fear, I fear, I fear. *sigh*
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim 1:7, KJV)
But this bunny trail on fear has got me far afield of my original topic: the power of story! (Focus Nick, Focus)
Jesus taught mainly through stories. Why? Because a story sticks.
Which do you think makes more impact:
- being told, "Love Your Neighbor as Yourself," or
- being told the poignant story of The Good Samaritan?
I think the latter. The theme in that story is absolutely relevant today, the ramifications of “who is my neighbor” something I even now struggle with and often think about.
So, what exactly is the Power of a Story? Perhaps this quote sheds some light:
A message prepared in a mind, reaches a mind.
A message prepared in a heart, reaches a heart.
But a message prepared in a life, reaches a life.
The power of story is that it is a message from a life that can reach a life.