stories of belonging

My wife and I had dinner with some new neighbors the other day.  They are missionaries of a different faith.  They are super nice people; we just don’t believe the same things.  After dinner the conversation turned to religion.  They asked me if I had any questions for them.  I did have questions but they weren’t technical, they were narrative.  I asked them to tell me the story of their religion.  How did it come about?  What was their god like?  Why do they believe what they believed?

The sad thing was that for people who are so passionate about their religion that they would give up a few years of their life to spread their religion, they didn’t know where to start.  I was kind of shocked that they couldn’t answer the question.  It wasn’t my intent to trick these people or to be duplicitous in any way.  I simply wanted to hear more about them.  I believe that embedded within our story are the keys to our being.  Our story speaks of our love, our suffering, the good and the bad.  Our stories are who we are.

I was really hoping that these missionaries would tell me a good story because I really wanted to understand them.  Sometimes it is difficult to understand others.  Sometimes when others speak we give them a strange look because it is difficult to understand why they said what they just said.  I think stories are powerful.

What if simply by telling stories in your family you could all of the sudden have a more connected family?  You could tell stories of life, death, baptisms, weddings, vacations, funny moments, hard times, and God’s provision.  I think families are beginning to lose their narrative, and when that is lost their sense of belonging is lost with it.  As humans we have a basic need to belong to something.  Your family story helps you belong to your family, just like your faith story helps you belong to a religion.

I think it would be sweet if a dad of a 17 year old girl walked into her room and told her the story of the day she was born and how excited he was.  How loved would she feel? Even though it might be cheesy she would feel even more deeply connected with who she is as a part of her family.

If you’re a parent I hope you will spend time with your kids telling them their family story.  If you follow Jesus, I hope you’ll tell God’s story to your kids.  If you love someone I’d challenge you to help them belong by telling them a story today.

 

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