For years, I’d sit in church thinking, am I the only woman in this auditorium who isn’t a mom? Is there anyone else who wants to walk out during baby dedications? When is Mother’s Day again this year, because I’m going to skip.
As I battled infertility and child loss I felt utterly alone. Incomplete. Broken. But, one day out of desperation, or anger, I broke my silence and told my story to a pastor, and to my surprise he listened! He then connected me with others, encouraged and empowered us to share our stories and begin healing.
The easiest way to create loneliness, shame and isolation is to not tell stories. I’m not talking about the pastor sharing parables or an illustration he borrowed, I’m talking about a 70-year-old man telling us about his battle with depression. Or, a 15-year-old girl who has been cutting herself because her friends told her she was fat.
Stories provide empathy, inspiration and education. They can connect us to the world around us. They can tear down walls. They can heal and restore. Jesus was telling stories all the time.
Sharing stories is actually simpler than most churches think. Just listen, collect, ask, help and create moments for sharing.
In fact, I did those very things when I wrote this blog. I asked a few of my closest friends "What happens when the church doesn't share stories?" and their responses are powerful.
• “When there is no diversity in stories it sends a message to the already fragile minority that either you don't belong here, or worse, that you are invisible.”
• “As a brand new believer in my church of mainly mature Christians, I felt like a weirdo newbie most of the time. I wasn't hearing stories of brokenness much at all, and I was so lonely.”
• “When my husband lost his job he said he was in such a condition that it felt just as serious as if he'd had his arm blown off. There was no concept of embarrassment. He just knew he needed help and had to tell others in order to get it.”
• “It takes someone allowing themselves to be vulnerable to connect believers in a deep way and foster true solidarity.”
One friend said it best, ”A church without stories is like understanding consonants, but not vowels. Or it’s like trying to read a book in the barely there light at the end of a candle. It’s unsatisfying and always leaves us wanting more.”
Lead Communications Strategist