The Power of Story

Gina Butz identity, loved 4 Comments

do you know your own story?

“All children mythologize their birth. It is a universal trait. You want to know someone? Heart, mind and soul? Ask him to tell you about when he was born. What you get won’t be the truth; it will be a story. And nothing is more telling than a story.” The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield

In the last few years, I’ve thought a lot more about my story. Partly this is from coaching others to know their stories, partly through reading To Be Told by Dan Allender, and partly it’s just the way God is leading me.

Many people think the past is just the past-over and done, let’s move on. But the past is part of us.

We are a composite of our stories and how they shaped us. There are messages on our hearts from every moment we have lived-messages about who we are, what it takes for us to find love and belonging, and how to safeguard our hearts.

The problem is that those messages are often fuzzy versions of truth, and they can lead us to seek ways of saving ourselves rather than calling us to rest in God. It’s unlikely we will change those messages, and the behavior that stems from them, unless we really examine the stories that told them to us.

And more importantly, we can’t know our stories well on our own. The last spring we lived overseas, a group of us met every other week to watch a video series by Dan Allender called Learning to Love Your Story. Afterward we broke into groups and reflected on what we heard. In the process, we told our stories to each other.

It’s interesting, when you tell a story from your life to someone else. You think you know it and understand it, but until you tell it to someone else, you don’t see it for what it is. I’ve had people tell me incredible sad stories, but they laugh while they tell them, not realizing that their laughter helps them avoid feeling the pain of what happened. I have told others stories, heard them say, “That must have been so hard,” and until that moment, I hadn’t realized it myself. We see our stories through a certain lens; we need help to zoom out and see them more clearly.  

When we tell our stories, others can ask questions and help us connect the dots to who we are in the present because of our past. They can help us see how what happened to us in the past still shapes us now, for good or harm. They can point us to wounds that need healing, sin that needs redeeming, lies that need the truth.

One of the greatest gifts is someone listening to your story, feeling it with you, and loving you in it. Here there is opportunity for healing and transformation. In telling our stories, others help us wipe the film from them to see the truth, to recognize the lies and vows we have embraced to help us save ourselves. They can give us the grace and compassion many of us missed in our stories the first go around. This is the power of story.

Do you know your own story? Do others know it?

 

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Related posts:

A Story of Two Houses

An Open Letter to the World 

Comments 4

  1. I’ve been in two “To Be Told” groups and they were both wonderful! I’ve never seen the videos — I’ll have to check them out!

  2. Gina,
    I love this…I have always felt that my “story” is one to be shared, because there is nothing I have gone through in my life that can’t help someone else in their journey. God didn’t let me walk this path so I could keep it all bottled up and hidden. If I share it, then others will know they are not alone. We women need to know that others have gone before us. And that we aren’t the only one who has had to walk this path. I have many things in my life to share, alcoholism, drug addiction, abortions, divorce, giving up custody of one of my children, and the list could go on and on…the thing about sharing these stories is that it encourages other women to know that if God did it for me, then He can do it for them. I love being able to touch women’s lives in a way that helps them to realize they are not alone. Which of course, the enemy of our souls wants us to believe we are… I think God likes to do for others the kinds of things He has done for me, and that gives me a reason to share whenever I have the opportunity. God is so Good. Being a redeemed and loved daughter of the King, it is easy to share with others. Thank you for posting.

    1. You’re welcome! Isn’t it beautiful how God redeems the hardest parts of our stories and makes them places that can overflow in life and healing for others?

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