Don’t worry, he knows. I swear if I ever die in my sleep while Dave is on a business trip, this is how they’ll find me: rolled up on my side of the bed, tucked in by books and Bibles, glasses askew. I start and end my day with words. Usually not my own.
Tell me a story.
Show me with feeling, with piled up tension, a prize I want so bad by the time you take me near it (only to swipe it away over and over) that I am holding the book under the covers with a flashlight just to get closer to the words. Make me swoon, I tell you, ’til I am hiding the next paragraph with my hand because I can’t trust my hungry eyes not to rush to the next part. I must not cheat them because every word will be worth it, whatever ‘worth it’ is here in this land. The pain of the pained, the getting of the get, the tasting of the taste, no matter, whatever. O, tell me a story!
Storytelling is the absolute most powerful tool to compel a human brain. – Donald Miller, Building a Story Brand Podcast, episode 1
If a picture is worth a thousand words, it’s because a picture is telling a story. We are always telling stories. The hearing, the listening, and even the living of them captivates us to continue on, asking where it will lead. Flaw-full awe-full stories draw notice and become legends.
“They make their own bread.”
A story can be as simple as a sentence. I’m at a local cafe enjoying a sandwich because my foodie friends have said it’s something I must try, even though I’m not a sandwich-person. When this cafe first opened last year, I saw Instagram reviews and I had to check them out, and today a sandwich with a Vietnamese name had this girl who doesn’t like to eat with her hands choosing to do so. I may bring a bite home to Dave, but, you know….I may not. As I enjoy the Bahn Mi at The Local Moose, I can’t help but overhear customers introducing their friends to the menu, and the bread just keeps coming up. A guy sitting near me, also having the Bahn Mi, can barely contain himself. They make their own bread? Five little words that speak of a family, a snapshot of long labor, and the smell of a kitchen you want to pull up a stool in. And that’s a story.
We live our lives in stories. Think about the last time you caught up with a friend after some time apart. If you had at least an hour, good coffee or an adult beverage, you probably covered the family, your jobs, & your funny but not-so-funny car troubles. But perhaps she got you past the easy stories to what’s making you effervesce, quiver, rage or numb out. If she loved you and you let her.
A few years ago I started asking for stories after I understood how much it heals us to tell them. So, instead of asking “what’s wrong?” when a friend or a stranger had signs of an obvious injury (like a purple cast, for instance) I’d start by asking, “What happened?!”. That question just softens us. We want to tell the story. Because there is always something that happened, and talking about it without fault or guilt is soothing. This also works great to break the ice, I find, where there is ice. Try it today, and tell me what happens. 😉
My family has a new story that just started a few weeks ago. You know when a big story has begun because it rocks the rest of the day like an earthquake, knocks you around like you’ve been spun. Then your day just ticks forward. Stupid day. How come it just keeps coming? Some one should ask me what happened.
But there is time for that. Time for the story to have chapters full of beautiful landscapes and loud laughter and weddings and boat rides and seafood. We are deliciously lucky.
Believe me, I know. Sometimes telling a story feels risky. Certain stories of mine, I rarely ever tell because they reveal something about me that is unsavory. The hard part becomes becoming the one who is that, or who was that, for the listener, before you redeem it. Before it reveals a beautiful strength, if it will. Remember in school when you got a better grade on a math test if you showed your work? Storytelling is showing our work. Here’s the kicker: you’re not fooling anyone. If you have not told the story, the story has still been told in the lines of your face, the far off glances that answer a question, or the special way you glow that makes people wonder what it is that you’re withholding ~ unspoken treasure that would set a man free.
When people stop telling their stories, people stop asking. I sure don’t want that to happen. Your stories color you in for those of us who are living our stories nearby. Find a way to tell them. If only for that knowing look in another’s eyes that is seeming to say, “I thought I was the only one.” Because being known is decadent ~ more holy than love, more wholesome than bread.
That’s what stories do – they give us a big circus tent to congregate under. A place where people believe in the same magic we do.- Reagan Pugh