Would You Share Your Story?

Would You Share Your Story?

Written on 05/13/2024
Michelle VanderMeer

Stories are my favorite. They always have been, ever since the time my sister opened the land of fantasy and fiction by reading stories to me before I could read. She would entice me to keep walking on long hikes by telling fantastical stories of giant lollipops and a fountain of rainbows on the moon. Throughout my childhood we had regular read-alouds in the evenings instead of watching TV, and audiobooks kept the peace on long car trips. If you want to be sure to get my attention, start telling a story. Even if I’m in a different room, I’ll tune in.

Have you noticed how stories are woven into our everyday lives? Ask someone a question, and they often respond with some kind of story. “How are you doing?” “Why are you here?” and “Have you ever seen such weather?” all set the stage for a short story to be shared. Friendship, C.S. Lewis said, is born at the moment when one person says to another, “What! You too? I thought I was the only one!” (The Four Loves). We get to know and understand others through their stories. Not only that, but we are encouraged, inspired, challenged, and instructed through stories.

It is no wonder that God repeatedly instructed the Israelites to tell their children the story of their deliverance from Egypt, to tell of their wandering in the wilderness and of God’s covenant faithfulness. “We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. … Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands” (Ps. 78:4, 7).

I have had the privilege of sitting down with different members of my congregation to hear their life and faith stories and writing them up for the church newsletter. I have heard about how God was faithful in the realities of World War II, what it was like to immigrate to Canada, the people that planted seeds of faith in their lives, and the songs and verses that brought them through hard times. These stories inspired me, encouraged me, made me laugh, and reminded me of the sovereignty of God in our lives.

Older people who might feel that our modern world is moving too fast: you still have so much to teach us about how to live. Open up to us the world you grew up in, so different from our own. Tell us about your experiences of joy, or about times you struggled but found that God was enough. Remind us that you’ve messed up too, and that there is always hope. Show us how you learned to live, love, and trust God.

As a younger person still figuring out life, I need to hear those stories. They remind me that I am not alone on this journey. My story as a Dutch Canadian girl homeschooled in Africa is quite different from others’ stories. But it is in the sharing of stories that I realize how much I can learn from others and notice the shared emotions and experiences that make us human. Hearing about how God has been faithful to another teaches me to put my trust in God, as the psalmist puts it.

Would you please share your stories with me?