Last night I went out with a group of friends to one of my favorite local spots. We sat and talked and enjoyed one another’s company for a few hours. The question was raised, “take a look around the room, what do you see when you look at the people? What do you think they are here for?” I scanned the room and noticed everyone but one person was there with someone and she looked sad.
As I scanned the room I was struck by the thought that every person in that room had a story. EVERY person has both a story being lived as well as a story to tell. Not one of us is simply made up of a random set of disconnected events not worth being told.
There are stories behind every register, found in every waiter or waitress, being lived by the person in the car next to or behind or in front of us in our cars. There are stories being told by the people we love, the people we struggle to like and the people we don’t know. There is not a person on earth who does not have or live a story.
Each story is filled with events that cause actions or reactions. The story we each have lived effects the way we participate in conversations and groups as well as our ability to connect or not connect intimately with others. Our stories impact the way we live.
As I desire to get to know people and walk with them in life I have learned that not everyone knows how to tell their story and not everyone is living the story they wish they were living. It amazes me how many of us wishes we had some else’s story. We make assumptions that some else’s story is so amazing based only by their outside and compare it to how we feel on the inside. Inevitably we’d rather live the other’s story as we only see what is evident, not that which is hidden.
I’ve also learned that we like to ask questions that only tell the timeline of the story. What did you do yesterday? What will you do this weekend? How will you spend your summer? We struggle to ask the questions that get to th story itself. Questions like: What was the highlight of your day yesterday? What made it so? What are you thinking about these days? What are your passions? What are your dreams? Where is there struggle in your story? Where is there cause to celebrate? These questions open up the life of a person by telling us how past and present collide in today, revealing the heart of a person.
Telling my story and asking others to tell me theirs continues to open me to new relationships. These relationships enrich my life.
This week take a chance and see how many stories you can hear. For one week, see each person as a story teller and ask questions. For instance you might go to the grocery store, you have a person in front of you with a name tag. Use the name on the tag and ask him/her a question like, “What is the best thing that has happened to you today?” You can try this out with bank tellers, waitresses, co-workers, neighbors. Just start asking questions and see what happens.
I’d love to hear what the result is as you begin to hear the stories of others. Leave a comment below that shares how it all worked out.