You have a story to tell. Yes you, the one reading these little words right now.
Maybe you are thinking, “What story do I have to tell?” And maybe you say that because you think your story is boring, because you know you have a story. Life is a story. It starts way back when, before we can remember. I don’t even remember the age I was of my earliest memories, and sometimes I don’t know if I remember something about my life or if I only remember the stories I was told. I guess it doesn’t really matter. All of that jumbled up mess in my head becomes my story.
I was born on Sept. 3, 1980 at exactly 1 p.m. PST, which is 4 p.m. EST. I don’t remember being born. I don’t remember the first time I was held by my parents or the first time my mother kissed me. I don’t remember any of that, but I’ve heard stories about it. And while we each have our own stories to tell, we find out in the course of our lives that other people have their stories to tell, and sometimes in their stories we make appearances, sometimes they have stories to tell about us.
I look forward to being able to tell Langston about some of the stories I have about him. There will be some moment in his life when things seem to be spiraling out of control, because there are times in everyone’s life when that is true. And when that happens, maybe I can tell him about the day he was born. The way he urinated all over the nurses as soon as he came out. The way he puckered up to kiss his mother the first time their faces met. And while that story may not help him in whatever he is going through, it might help him realize that life is bigger than any one moment no matter how horrid it is.
The truth is –- even if we think our stories are boring –- we like to share them. Today I was sitting in a living room with three other people sharing stories. One of us would say, “There was this one time …” and then we would share about that one time — that one time unique to whomever was sharing it.
Then someone else would come up afterward saying, “That reminds me of the time …” and then some other story maybe similar or maybe not was shared. In the hour I was there I must have shared a dozen short stories of my own life and heard many more. And as I left our little story telling session I realized something, we had each grown closer in that hour.
Perhaps that is why we share our stories in the very end, to grow closer with others. I recently read a study that was done over the course of years about couples. This study said that when people were dating the two could sit at the dinner table and would talk on average 51 minutes an hour. That leaves 9 minutes for eating and drinking and whatever else. When people got married the time spent talking immediately went down, and continued going down the longer they were married.
At first I was a bit saddened by the study, but as I thought about it some more I realized it wasn’t such a bad thing, maybe it is even a good thing. Surely there are less stories to share with someone you know so well, therefore you are not trying to get to know them as much as you are just trying to be with them. The stories that you have now you have together. Since God shows up in the silence (read about Elijah if this sounds strange to you), maybe the silence we can have with our loved ones means that we are just comfortable loving them as they are, and then being with our beloved, because what can be more special than being with the one we love?
Now I have a couple of thoughts. First, it is good we share our stories with people we meet. It is the only way we make friends, people who know us, and friends are good. Secondly do not forget to listen. It is as important to listen to another’s story as it is to share our own, because only in listening to them do we get to know them, can we grow to love them, can we move to the point where we create stories with them, and then maybe we will be able to sit down together and not say a word and feel like plenty was said.
Finally perhaps God sometimes seems so hard to hear because God does not feel like there is anything to be said. God sits there with us silent just because God knows our stories and loves us without having to say a thing. God is happy being in the presence of God’s beloved. Next time I am sitting alone in silence, I hope I can remember that I am not alone, God is there, too, happy just to be with me.