Tell Me Again: The Gift of Storytelling

 

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My husband is a great teller of stories. If you don’t believe me, ask our grandchildren. He has several stories he has told to each of them over time that were truly of his imagination and he told them so well that when they were very young, they thought they had actually occurred. I chuckle as I recall how engaged they were with the story as they listened and asked questions.

 

The favorite of them all was about a winter when he spent time on his own with the Eskimos. Oh, the adventures he had! He seemed to never tire of creating new little details in response to their questions. Another of the stories that was a favorite of our oldest granddaughter was more of a dramatic play called “Save Princess”. In the story he played both the role of the villain and the role of the hero who came to save her just in the nick of time.

 

A good storyteller knows that a story is not just reporting a sequence of events, but rather the telling of meaningful and often extraordinary actions of the characters in the story that take place over a period of time. Some people say it requires a certain craft or skill. That is likely true, but I think it is most of all a gift.

 

I think my husband has that gift even though he would insist he is not good with words. I think it is a gift because he sees into the character of the people in the stories. The actions in the story flow through them. He managed to get our grandchildren caught up in the story of his life with the Eskimos one winter through the development of his character, what he did, how he felt, and how he responded to the challenges and adversities of the long, bitter, cold winter. img_2085

 

Stories help us to make sense out of our present experiences as well as those of the past while giving us glimpses of possibilities for ourselves for the future. My husband’s experiences as a Boy Scout and his boyhood exploits served as grist for the stories he told as well as how to become an effective problem-solver throughout his lifetime. I doubt our grandchildren will forget these stories because of the memories they created of not only the story, but also the man who told it.

 

The stories we choose to listen to are significant. Each character we meet, each adventure we explore, provides a certain challenge to us and may well change us in some ways we may never even see or recognize.

 

Wayne Booth has put it this way:

 

“The stories we choose to spend our lives with are a reflection of our values and, therefore, our character.”

 

 I think that points to why it is so important that we not allow ourselves to get caught up in small stories. Small stories never seem to reflect good characters or characters of good quality, but rather take us down a yellow brick road away from truth, virtue, and light for the path ahead. Our minds and hearts get caught up in shadow and deception instead of light.

 

I love what Daniel Taylor says in Tell Me A Story:

 

“We will be defined, as individuals and as a society, by the stories we choose to live and by those we value enough to pass on to the next generation. This is perhaps our ultimate responsibility as characters acting freely. What stories will we tell our children and why? What stories will they choose to tell in turn?”

 

Of all the great and gifted storytellers, likely the stories that have stood the longest test of time have been those that Jesus told and left for us during His life on earth. Generation after generation they have been passed on. The characters in the story never fail to point to or show us something about themselves that allow us to learn something about ourselves as well. They challenge us to be better than we would be without them. They inspire us and show us the way to go.

 

Jesus undoubtedly knew the power of stories. He used them often when He was teaching or just hanging out with His friends/disciples. He knew they would be remembered and that remembrance would show us Him long after He returned to His Father.

 

He wanted us to remember. He knew our stories were and would be broken stories that would potentially discourage and defeat us. He came to heal the brokenness of our stories and did so through giving us another story, His story.

 

As I heard a pastor say this morning:

 

“The world says we are defined by our past, but God’s focus is on the future and who we will be.”

 

 That gives us hope and His stories are the ones we should remember and live out.

 

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20 thoughts on “Tell Me Again: The Gift of Storytelling

  1. I love a great story and it sounds like your husband has the knack. I don’t think you have to be “good at words” to tell a great tale, but you have to feel it, live it as you tell it. What a great thing to pass on to the next generation.

    I love the stories of the Bible, but my favorite thing is when some talented storyteller fleshes out the characters for me. How they lived, what they must have felt, what the world was like then. It helps me to be in that place and marvel at what it was to walk the world with Christ. Amazing!

    BTW, I really like this: “The world says we are defined by our past, but God’s focus is on the future and who we will be.”

  2. Stories are the BEST! I know us bloggers are word girls (or word people), but even for those who do not like to write, read, or even talk that much, they still love a story! And the most beautiful stories are the ones that we turn over to God to finish writing!
    Blessings, my friend!
    Lori

  3. I love stories! Being a good storyteller is something I’ve always wanted to do. I’m thankful no matter what the world says about me and my past, the Lord knows my heart and my future. Thank you for sharing with Thankful Thursdays.

  4. Stories are powerful. They stay with us. My mom is great about telling my kids stories from her life in which she learned lessons big and small. Now my kids will ask me at lunch or when we’re driving, “Mom, tell a story about your life!” So great to think about the kinds of stories Jesus would tell in those situations. Thank you!

  5. Hi Pam! Your images of the children here are so precious! Are they your grands?
    How fun that your husband is such a good storyteller, you must have listened, trying not to laugh!
    You bring up the great point about realizing what stories stick with us. Are they small ones? Are they negative ones? I remember when my children were glorious and loving, and when they were pains in the patoot. Which stories do I tell? That was a really good concept for me to think about today. Our thoughts, our stories, tell us who we are, and sharing them tells others too. I want to be a positive person, sharing the good.
    Great post today!
    Ceil

    1. Hello, my friend! I love the pics, but they are not of my grands who are all much older than these (These are not even from when they were younger.). They are from the app Word Swag that I use when I have no photos of my own.

      Yes, I really was trying not to laugh!! He was so serious as he told the story!!

      Thanks so much for your encouragement and affirmation!!

      Love and blessings, my dear!

  6. I love stories, especially stories that warm the heart. I agree that we have the responsibility to tell the next generation about stories that would help shape them…especially the story of Jesus!

  7. I have been remembering so many of my family’s stories lately, so your post is so timely for me! I am so amazed that God would choose to work through our seemingly insignificant stories to fit us all together into HIS Big Story, that you have been speaking about. Thanks for these precious thoughts! –Blessings to you!

  8. Yes! I truly believe all of our stories are important, but the stories Jesus told are life changing and hope giving. It’s up to us to make sure His stories are repeated to our children and grandchildren.

    Thanks for sharing at The Loft today!

  9. I’m thinking that storytelling could be a lost and dying art. All things digital have encroached on the time and creativity and attention span of our culture.

    Makes me wonder how Jesus would tell His story today if He was actually walking / driving around on this earth. What kind of technology would He embrace? And what would He tell us to beware of?

    Just musing …

    1. You are definitely right about the digital age, but if one-by-one we were to expose our grandchildren to a different time and era then things might little-by-little begin to make a difference. I think He might use it all, but so much of His connection was relational and I don’t think that comes across as well digitally even though folks like you and me try to do that with how we use it. Love your musing, my friend!

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