I’ve always been fascinated with story-telling. Whether it was loving Star Wars as a kid (textbook example of Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” concept), or sitting around a campfire with a few friends and a few more beers, I’ve somehow understood that this art form was important long before I knew it had a name.
Story-telling was a big reason I entered into ordained ministry, exploring how the biblical stories intersect with our own and transform how we live. Eventually I discovered things like The Moth and Tenx9 existed, where telling a story that wasn’t part of a didactic sermon was a thing all its own.
There are lots of folks who help us appreciate the power of story-telling. But I’m becoming convinced we don’t really appreciate the equally important power of story-receiving.
Telling/giving and receiving are reciprocal. They need one another to exist.
At the most basic level, most of us are not going to put something together if there is not an audience for it. Sure, we may journal and do other things, but how many people take the time to compose a sermon if there isn’t a congregation to receive it? Or to craft a song if there is no audience in front of the stage?
(Keeping it 100- I’ve been tweaking this blog post for over a week because I know at least a few people will read it.)
Our stories aren’t shared until they’re heard. Not merely listened to, but heard. When I hear someone else’s story, I identify with parts of it, while other parts are very different from my own experience and lead me to ask new questions. I am challenged, I am entertained, and I am reminded that my own stories matter, just as the one I’m receiving matters.
The gift of receiving another’s story goes far beyond applause or laughs I give as part of the audience of a story-telling show. Receiving stories creates space so the storyteller knows that what they have to share matters. That they matter.
For the next few days I’m attending the Dad 2.0 Summit, where people who write and speak about what it is to be a father are gathering to make us all better at what we do. I’m also curating a storytelling project for Fathering Together– a growing new online community created by an old friend who graciously invited me into dreaming what it could be with him.
Together we want to help other dads know that they have a story to tell that matters because they matter. We’re endeavoring to produce an e-book in time for Father’s Day this year so those dads can have a platform to share their stories, and so the rest of us can receive them.
I’m looking forward to receiving what these other dads have to share, because I know it will make me a better father, and a better person.