You Are Telling Your Story Wrong

Being able to tell others your story is of who you are and where you come from is a standard human exercise. We tell our stories when we are dating someone or even applying for a job. The more I listen to people the more it is clear to me that people are amazing, but are really not very good at telling their stories. 

Stringing a collection of events together in a chronological order is not telling your story, it is giving a personal resume. Resumes are nice and all, but they are not your story. 

Recently I sat with three other clergy friends and we each shared our stories. As I listened to each of them share, it is clear to me that these guys are preachers - they can tell their story as a story and not a resume. Here is what I mean.

 Your story is more than a collection of snapshots...

Your story is more than a collection of snapshots...

When you tell your story, you need to remember that you will be leaving many parts of your life out. It it not possible to share your many years of experiences and how they shaped you in anytime less than the number of years it took you to live them. Since every story you share about yourself is a bit reductionist, you need to pick a strand of your experience. For instance, you may pick the strand that you are a person who has always sought others approval or perhaps you are a person who never feels comfortable in your skin. 

Once you have that strand, share individual episodes from your life that give that strengthen that strand. Tell the time you dated someone just because your friends like them. Or how you generally take a couple of deep breathes before going into a room just to remind yourself that you belong.

As the strand is made stronger, then you are able to share a time or two when you acted differently than you have been sharing. Tell the time you told your friends to shove it or when you stood in front of the crowd and sang karaoke. These "counter examples" layer the complexity of who you are to the listener so they know you are not one dimensional.  

These little approaches to sharing your story not only are more disciplined but they are also more engaging to listen to thus creating changes to ask further questions. As questions are asked your story is now a conversation which you can invite the others to share their story. 

The next time you are in a conversation and someone asks "who are you?" I invite you not to share a resume. Share your story. You are more than just a collection of events. You are a beautiful beloved child of God with more complexity and layers that you are overlooking by just sharing events.