I grew up in a tiny town nestled in the heart of western North Carolina (see above). My hometown had one post office, one gas station, and zero traffic lights, what it did have, however, was really great stories. There really wasn’t much to do in our town when I was young. Entertainment on the weekends usually meant going over to another family’s house for dinner. The kids would trample through the woods, coming up with whatever games our imaginations could conjure, and our parents would sit on the porch and talk. When it got too dark to play anymore, the kids would settle in as well and listen to the stories our parents would tell. They were personal stories about hard times and overwhelming challenges, but also about good days and special memories. The stories would make us laugh at times and reflect at others. Those stories always made me want to live the kind of life that would collect great stories of my own to tell someday.
Stories connect people in ways that few things can.
A Jewish poet said it like this:
"I will teach you hidden lessons from our past, stories we have heard and know, stories our ancestors handed down to us. We will not hide these truths from our children but will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of our God. We will tell of his power and the mighty miracles he did." (Psalm 78: 2b-4)
Stories make us stronger. Stories encourage our children to dream big dreams of their own. Stories make all of our relationships deeper and more fulfilling. Here are a couple of thoughts that will make you a better story teller:
1)Be Honest With Yourself
Take some time and think back over your life. Think about the hard times and the really good times as well. When have you laughed? When have you cried? What was God like for you in those moments? You have great stories to tell. They may not seem great to you, but they could mean the world to those who care about you. Every honest story you tell is a small piece of you and is incredibly valuable to those who hear it!
2)Be Honest With Your Listeners
Your story isn't pretty. Mine isn't either. Remember, every great story has hardship, and every great hero has to overcome some obstacles along the way. Include your best moments in the stories you tell, but be honest about your mistakes as well. Your audience, (especially your children) need the encouragement of knowing that everyone messes up, and that sometimes those mistakes can still lead to really great things!
3)Trust The Process
Your children, or spouse, or friends may not always seem deeply enthralled by your stories. As a child I rarely made eye contact with the adults as they told their stories. I dug, twisted, kicked, and bounced continuously, but I was listening, and the stories were impacting me. Your stories matter, because you matter, don't let a distracted audience ever cause you to doubt that!
If you want stronger relationships, become a better story teller. You already have great stories inside of you, you might as well share them!