A few weeks ago, I wrote about how important story is in our lives. We live in story, we learn in it, we grieve in it and find joy in it, we love in it and we die in it.
I could probably have stopped at “we live in it,” as life pretty much covers everything. But specifics can be pretty important when sharing a story, and there are moments in life when sharing a story means sharing an experience that is profound and deeply personal. That may, in fact, be the point of sharing the story: to make a connection, to create and build on a relationship.
It’s why we share stories about God and about Jesus: we’re building a relationship with God, however we know God, and with each other in a way that engages what God’s about: love and living well.
So, a few weeks ago, I was encouraging us all to share our story, to share who we are with others. I said that our own context, our own experience, our own thoughts and perceptions are forever framing our story, and that may resonate with others when we share it.
There’s another side to that, of course. Listening. We shouldn’t only share our story so that it becomes the story, the only story and the only way. I want to say we don’t do that, but we do and we shouldn’t. Much like the Bible, our world isn’t one book, but a library of diverse and unique experiences from which we can learn and grow. It shouldn’t be about getting our way, but about being able to hear the voices we can engage with. We need to listen for the stories of others and ensure that they’re heard, especially the voices of those that are vulnerable or marginalized.
Also much like the Bible, we tend to tell the stories of Jesus as Jesus did this or that and emphasize the action and authority of Jesus. Rarely do we hear that Jesus listened.
It would be easy to suggest, of course, that Jesus, being divine, already knew what needed to happen. Even so, the very human Jesus would also know that our humanity requires our own part in our restoration. Not just that we believe we are healed because he said so, but that we know it in our hearts and go forward living it in our lives. That’s how we are made whole.
No, I think Jesus took the time to listen and affirm people. Those short miracle stories often seem so eager to get to the power of Jesus in action that they miss the real power: that Jesus listened first. I think that knowing people’s stories, especially the marginalized and vulnerable, was key to how Jesus acted.
It should be for us, too. I’m writing this on the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. We need to listen for the truth, acknowledge the stories that need to be shared, and honour those that aren’t here to share their story personally. Reconciliation can’t come until stories have been heard and listened to and learned.