Oprah would call it an “aha moment.” You know? Those three thrumming seconds when you figure out something sort of central to your being, all in a flash, lightning on a cloudless day. I was talking with a friend recently and I realized I have this habit, or this quirk, or this way of confronting the world around me.
I tell stories.
When we’re running, and my best running buddy tells me about this thing going on with her kid, I launch into a relatable, sometimes long-winded tale that will, somehow, three miles later, wrap up with a tangential point about the thing with her kid.
When I meet a new person, I ask questions, like my sister and I were genetically engineered to do (she’s a reporter, I’m a writer). Then I find some way of sharing a tid bit about me. It’s never the standard: “Oh I was raised in Pittsburgh.” Instead, I tell about how we lived on a hill overlooking the Ohio River and barges floated by carrying loads of steel, and that Pittsburgh had really had something of a renaissance since the steel bust, and isn’t that like our lives? How we go through these boom or bust periods?
My parents do it, too. I used to think my dad, the pastor had some secret Book of Stories for the Pulpit, because he had a story for every scripture. He could relate the words of Jesus to the back nine with his son or the time his dad lit firecrackers in the outhouse.
Mom is more diplomatic, stingy even, with her stories, but you can see them spinning, like a reel in her mind, all these things she knows. The stories she tells come from the books she reads, lots about Tudor England and some about American history. She finds the tales in books compelling, educational, and they enlighten her, in the erudite, engage in your world sense. My parents are pretty fantastic.
About two years ago, I received an email from a popular blogger asking me to consider joining the Deeper Story team. I emailed her back to smoke sure she got the right address. You mean mean? Yes. She meant me. Deeper Story was and is a faith based blog dedicated to telling stories. Most of the other writers speak and write openly about Jesus, theology, the church, and all that. I’m not so much in that genre as much as I’m all over the place with no defined niche. I’m totes ok with that.
I joined the team, needless to say, and I have the honor of calling the writers there friends and companions and steel against my steel in the marathon of faith. Many of us have books out in the world. We are vast and varied, liberal and conservative, all denominations, every age, tribe and language.
Today, our dear founder, Nish Weiseth, releases her first book, Speak: How Your Story Can Change the World
into the world. Speak is about the power of story. It’s about how when we know someone’s story, we respect them more, maybe even trust them. It’s about listening, and moving into a place where we can hear the tweet of a flute under the boom of a timpani in every story.
I’ve been picking slowly through the book, and I love Weiseth’s voice. She is earthy, sitting at the kitchen table open! and funny. I love funny. She tells her own story as well as shares some posts for Deeper Story to make her point: story changes everything.
If you like stories, and you think words can change the world, pick up a copy.