What do you share? Your story or your opinion? What do you like to read? Opinions or stories? Maybe a mixture of both!
I was raised in a home where I didn’t express my opinion much. I was an only child, and one of my parents was quite opinionated and strong willed (guess who I took after?) which didn’t leave a lot of room for anyone’s else thoughts or opinions. I had them, I just didn’t share them.
Then, I got married. My wonderful husband also has lots of opinions and is also strong willed, but he wants to hear my thoughts! This was all a little new to me as a young wife. Could I safely express my opinion without being mocked or corrected? Therein began the saga of how I started to offer my opinion. In the early years of parenting, I gave my children a lot of my opinion. Oh yes, I had a lot to say and I had a captive audience!
When my children were little, it was easy to give my opinion. But as they developed and matured, they need more – they needed relationship with me and relationship with the opinion or idea. They needed a story upon which to see truths played out in real life. My children are now growing up to have their own ‘story’. It is a necessary part of life. The various chapters that make up their story scare me and I wonder if they’ll be alright. But I come back to my confidence, my rock. I come back to the end of God’s story and keep focussed there.
Life, being a beautiful but messy narrative, has a way of teaching us lessons. And so, I realise that my opinions and sayings mattered less and less. Nowadays I find myself waxing rather in-eloquently… relating stories instead of opinion. The listener or reader can take from it what they will. Take from it anything the Holy Spirit impresses upon you. Or not.
Stories are relational, opinions are more like facts. Grace and truth are conveyed through stories. The Old Testament is filled with stories that convey the nature of God, and we see how He relates with His creation. Yet we need to immerse ourselves in the story, we have to work harder to see the grace and truths through stories than if we simply read through a chapter of proverbs. They are different vehicles for nuggets of truth.
Jesus Taught Using Stories
Jesus told parables or stories to teach the disciples. Of course, He also taught by example. Jesus employed the use of a variety of methods to communicate with people. He gave instruction, He taught in parables, used object lessons and more. The main point is that He was relational. He communicated in such a way as to reach the heart of the listener! Many years ago, I took a year or two to study the life of Jesus and that included learning how Jesus was taught and what sort of teacher He was. What methods did He use to teach? And how did that apply to me and my family? It’s a great study and well worth the time and effort.
Stories Take Time
Stories have characters, actions and outcomes which all takes time to be played out. They are intricately woven and allow the listener to make their own rich connections. Stories communicate much, although it’s not always so easy to find the ‘moral’ of the story, if there is indeed one moral to be learned. It takes longer to relate a story and to be a part of someone’s life than what it does to offer a pithy wise saying. I can tell my children to be thankful. I can have them copy verses. I can read Bible verses to them that speak about thankfulness. But a much better way for them to learn thankfulness is for me to be truly thankful- to model it. To be the living example.
My dear Mum passed away in late 1997. She was a story teller and I loved to hear her repeat her life experiences. I learned from them. Providentially, another woman stepped into my life for a short time, and she shared her life with me. She didn’t set out to ‘teach me’ anything in particular, but she taught me a lot, simply by sharing her life and her stories with me. They taught me more than the Philosophy of Christian Womanhood course I did in 1987/1988 in preparation for marriage.
I’ve learned that the people that influence me the most are those who share their life, their story with me and not just their opinion.