Rhetoric divides us. We become red states and blue states, conservatives and liberals, pro-this and anti-that. Stories unite us. Together we become part of a bigger story, a more important purpose, a deep gladness.
Hi! I’m Deanna Nowadnick. I’m a 1976 graduate of PLU. I’m also the author of two books. I love telling stories. I love knowing that my stories have connected to bigger, more important lessons in life. Stories matter.
Last fall I met with a women’s group who’d just finished reading Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
That same week Khloe Kardashian published her own memoir. In the middle of Maya and Khloe, I asked the group, “Where do our stories fit it?”
On the one hand we had a powerful story of prejudice and personal dignity, an inspirational story of struggle and survival, a coming-of-age story of loss and love, a story that’s as relevant today as it was in 1969 when it was first published.
At the other hand we had reality TV, a story of worth and value, too, but I’m guessing more antics than unique interpretations of the autobiographical form.
Here wealth of information. There possibly too much information.
So I asked again, “Where do our stories fit in?” I suggested we were part of God’s story, implying a whole different spectrum.
Yet even after acknowledging that we might be part of something much bigger, a hesitancy can set in. “I’m just a…” You fill in the blank. “I’m just a student.” “I’m just working part-time.” “I’ve only been here a short time.” “I just don’t have time!” We discount our purpose.
At one end of the spectrum we put the Bible, Old Testament and New Testament stories, David’s beautiful Psalms. That can leave us at the “reality TV” end of the spectrum.
But friends, God hasn’t put the stories of Moses and Abraham in bolded Times New Roman font and left us as italicized footnotes. Our stories are real chapters in God’s great story.
Recently I scored Adele tickets. In case you hadn’t heard, she’s coming to Seattle this summer. Ticket sales immediately divided the world in two: those who got them and those who didn’t.
I got them—Section 104, Row 8! Yes, Row 8!
When God puts on a show, we’re all included. We’ve all got tickets. We’re all sitting front row, center. Not only did the prophets get priority seating, but you did, too. Not only did the disciples get back stage passes, but you did, too.
We’re all seated together, because we’re all part of a huge story with an even huger purpose. The world’s deep hunger for meaning have connected us to God’s great story. And given us deep gladness.
Richard Rohr, a Franciscan friar said, “The genius of the biblical story is that, instead of simply giving us ‘seven habits for highly effective people,’ it gives us permission and even direction to take conscious ownership of our own story at every level, every part of life and experience. God will use all of this material, even the negative parts, to bring life and love.”
Life and love have given you wisdom and experience. Use your story to mentor someone.
Wisdom and experience, even the negative parts, have given you insight and perspective. Use your story to teach someone.
Insight and perspective have fostered in you creativity and imagination. Use your story to inspire someone.
Own your story. Tell your story. Share the deep gladness. Stories matter.