Our Stories Matter

Our grandchildren visited for a few days recently, and we did what families do. We talked, ate, played games, and got in a bit of outdoor activity. I am teaching the older ones a couple of family-safe card games, they are teaching me poker. Go figure. They were here several days and through it all it seemed someone was always telling a story.

I remember how rich these times were as a young boy listening to my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles telling the stories of their lives. This is how I learned the little I know of my father’s war time experiences. It is also how I developed an appreciation for family members I’ve never met, some long gone before I heard their story, and some just too far away to know personally.

There is an importance to our personal and family stories beyond reminisces about earlier times. I am hard pressed to think of many stories I heard that did not have an overt or underlying principle. My father once disobeyed a direct order while on guard duty to save a young life. He knew he was disobeying. Why did he do it? Because there was a higher value at risk and he happened to be the one who was in position to save it, consequences aside. To him, the story was not about bravery or disobedience but the power of love for a life. That value, the love of life, was deeply instilled in him and that story helped transfer that value into my own life.

There are others I could cite as examples, but I think you get the point. Our stories matter. They can communicate not only an incident but function best when communicating beliefs, values, ideals, character, vision, and purpose. Stories have a way of staying with us, as do the principles they carry.

We are in a time today when the world seems to be turning itself upside down and inside out every few days. It is hard sometimes to know what is normal, accepted, correct, or allowable. Here is a question for you: Why does it matter what the world thinks is right? If I don’t know right from wrong on my own, then something is missing. Each of us should be filled with our values, visions, dreams, purpose, and character. We should not need someone to tell us what they are, because they are a part of us. These are our anchors and plumb lines, the things we use to judge everything around us. If we love those closest to us, we will be sharing and transferring these fundamental values and beliefs, using teaching moments and yes, even stories of our own experiences to illustrate and anchor the things that matter. These are our sea anchors in stormy times. They live deep inside of us, speak to us, and guide us.

Our stories are a way of transferring generational history and the power of a thousand moments that matter. They are part of our legacy and a tool we can use to inform, shape, and give a part of ourselves to the future. We can bring laughter, thoughtfulness, truth, forgiveness, and love … all through our stories. So …

Tell a story to someone today, and make it count.

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