My grandparents and great-grandparents used stories to nurture their family. Whenever there was a thunderstorm, they would turn off the lights and unplug the electrical appliances and gather the family together to tell their stories. They would encourage us to find our own stories by looking at our lives and how we were living them. They taught us to have faith in ourselves and in God. They used what seemed like simple and insignificant tales as vital tools for defining life and faith. And they stressed education as key to personal development in this world.
I entered seminary at the age of 40. I did not show up straight out of college with a guitar and a dog singing “Kum-ba-ya.” Beginning with my first seminary course, we were constantly asked to share our personal stories with the rest of the class. I remember thinking, “Oh Lord. Touchy-Feeling 101.” But I cannot begin to express how those simple exercises transformed my life, deepened my faith, and became the core of my ministry in pastoral care. It took me 46 years and five degrees to get back to what my grandparents taught me when I was 5 years old.
Don’t shrink from sharing your own stories—those from your past, and those that you are rewriting as you live everyday.
This message was adapted from “Telling Stories” by Gwendolyn Miller that appeared in the January/February 2006 issue of Lutheran Woman Today (now Gather) magazine.