We live in story. And it’s through story that we make sense of all the big and small matters of life. In fact, much of the angst we experience when our world is turned upside down is because we’ve lost a meaningful narrative to explain our situation. And so we’re quick to start telling stories to help us find our footing again. For better or worse, we are storytellers.
To be sure, raw facts are meaningless without some interpretation. For instance, it’s not sufficient to simply know our loved one has been in an accident. We want to know what happened, as knowing the story helps us to make sense of the facts. We’re not changing what has happened. The facts remain the same, but a narrative is still needed to interpret and find our way forward.
And this is true throughout our life and relationships.
For example, we tell a story about our marriage. And we can make it through many hard seasons when we have a meaningful narrative to navigate our challenges. Perhaps this allows us to see the evil hell-bent against our marriage, for instance, rather than fighting against each other.
Likewise, we tell stories about our work and society, parenting, friendships, and the like. We cannot keep from telling stories. Even from childhood, constantly asking why is a kid’s way of inviting story and making sense of his world.
While we need story, not all stories are created equal. Some inspire and motivate us toward love and good works, while others leave us divided, depressed, and filled with bitterness.
We cannot avoid being storytellers, but we can be wise in how we tell our stories and receive stories from others as well.
In the end, we’re storytellers to our core. But wisdom is needed to tell stories that honor our pain and suffering while also bringing more life and goodness into the world.