Saturday, March 24, 2012

Merciful Traveling - Some Thoughts on Faith (Part 3) The Story

You can read Part One here.
You can read Part Two here.

I love to hear stories.

If you’ve ever told me your story, you’ve likely been peppered with one million questions as I’ve tried to find out more.  I want to know your likes and dislikes, your political persuasions, your plans and dreams, but what I really want is your story.  It’s the heart of who you are and how you became you.  And that is what I'm after.

Stories are powerful.  Give me a vulnerable and honest story over a “how to” or a “should do” any day and I’ll be eating out of the palm of your hand.

Shortly after we chose to leave “church” we found ourselves in the middle of a community of people who were in the process of telling their stories.   Some of us had already left church, some were in the process of leaving, and some just didn’t know where they belonged.  There were threads of disappointment, pain, confusion, anger, sadness, grief, expectation, hope, relief, freedom, and curiosity running  through  and alongside us.  We all had a story.

This community of story-tellers became our safe place.  We were understood there.  Doubt was accepted.  We could say what we wanted without fear of judgement.  We could approach faith unconventionally.  We could vehemently disagree and argue with passion and then share a glass or two of wine afterward.

As is the case with most times in my life, what I was reading and listening to at the time painted a hue over my experience.  Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller and A New Kind of Christian by Brian McLaren were on my night table.  Both books were rich with story.  I felt as though mine was intertwined with both of those.  I loved Donald Miller’s honest narrative.  I had never read anything before where a Christian exposed the nagging thoughts of my mind like he did.  His story was rich and honest.  I cried through most of it and underlined the hell out of that book.  With A New Kind of Christian,   I loved the way Brian McLaren used the fictitious relationship between a disheartened pastor and his daughter's high school science teacher to tell his own story.  It was creative and edgy.  While some in my old circles said it was blasphemous, I simply said, “thank you”.

Our little gathering of vagrants solidified to become our faith community.  We continued to hear each other’s stories alongside the story of Jesus.  We listened to His stories and held them up to our own.  We invited our kids to join us and tell their stories.  They discovered that their voices were just as relevant as ours.  They expressed their faith in ways that made sense to them.  We created and listened and talked, explored and muddled our way through months like this.

Around this time, I heard a song that became that season’s anthem.  It was Brandi Carlile’s The Story.  The first time I heard it I got stuck on one of the lines in the song.  I furiously scribbled it down for fear that I would lose the power it gifted me in that moment.

“But these stories don’t mean anything if you’ve
got no one to tell them to.”

For the first time in a long time, I had a place to tell my story.  Not the version that was appropriate for church or leadership.  No, I was no longer looking for nods of approval or an  endorsement from an authority. 

I was simply looking for a place to be - messed up story and all.


  1. Great timing for me to read this today. Thanx Schwester.

  2. There's a teaser if I ever read one. Don't leave us hanging too long - I'm thankful that you are a person that gives space for people to share their "real story".