Christians have been talking about storytelling for a while, emphasizing the spiritual dimension of storytelling, relating our stories to God’s grand story, and using stories in evangelism. “The chief role of a Christian is to tell a better story,” according to author Donald Miller.
Personal narratives are also enjoying a cultural moment. Storytelling has become the latest buzzword in business strategy. We’re paying more attention to storytelling as an art form on stage, in comedy, and through podcasts. As always, we love a well-told story.
Being focused on storytelling doesn’t just involve listening to others’ stories and sharing our own funny, embarrassing, emotional, or poignant moments. Storytelling also compels us to look at how we live: We’re writing our own life stories all the time, whether we consider ourselves writers or storytellers or not.
These stories are shaped by our own words. They can be remarks like:
“I’m such a mess.”
“I don’t have time for it.”
“That’s not something I’m good at.”
“It’ll never happen.”
Too often, our stories—even as Christians—are infused with pessimism, negativity, and hopelessness. These attitudes can hurt us more than we realize. Yet, it’s possible to edit our stories and change our lives in the process.
Miller, who speaks through his organization Storyline, instructs Christians that the criteria writers use “in editing their stories—Is there conflict here? Does my protagonist have a purpose?—are the same criteria we can use to edit our understanding of our lives and the Christian faith.”
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