Stories are powerful.
They are the stuff by which decisions, both big and little, are made.
They form in us a sense of worth, value and purpose.
They fuel a voice in our minds that is never silenced.
Each time we see a billboard, TV commercial, advert in a magazine or even just the label on a food item, there is a story being told of what that item might bring us in happiness and contentment. In fact, many times these stories can turn our days into an endless pursuit of “just one more _____” and THEN we will be satisfied.
Beyond these more recent stories are the bigger stories of how we got here as a person, family, country and even all of humanity. Evolution and it’s many cousins, is the story of how all of this (world, plants, humans…. everything) became all this. What made all this stuff? And why? Or who?
When’s the last time you asked someone how they made the choice to start breathing?
Might it be that we don’t often think about all of the “why”s because there is so much in life that just happens or put simply “life just is”?
Looking at the history of humanity, the stories of each culture revealed so much about who those people were and what shaped their lives as individuals. The mythic origins of Rome tell the story about one brother crushing another to form this Empire. When Rome went down in flames it was largely from the royal family’s conflicts and corruption over the course of hundreds of years. Each culture has similar stories and each one shows clearly where that culture is headed. Of course, we don’t know the future, but we can look at history and see how the creation myths dictated much about the rise and fall of empires.
So what about us, the people not in power?
Can the story of how we got to where we are mean much to us?
Here’s a story:
Once there was a being who had power and creativity without limit. This being set out to make a world that would last forever and regenerate itself using a dependency and connection to its inhabitants and its creator.
Then this being created animals of every kind with plants of every kind. All of this for no other reason than the simple pleasure of creating and engaging this creation. At some point in time this creator being made humans. Creator being used hands, and breath, to bring them into being in a way that reflected this being’s own existence. They were given the whole world to enjoy and a creative task to do: name each animal with a sound that emerges from your mouth.
All this creative being desired was relationship with these human beings but they wanted more than just relationship, more than food (and a complete lack of need for shelter), more than the limit of doing the creative work set up just for them.
So they grasp onto this idea: we want more options. We want to know what is good and what is bad. We want to decide for ourselves.
Brokenhearted, this creator being gave them what they wanted. They would need clothing to cover their naked bodies, of which they were previously unaware. They would need to know that pain would come in ways appropriate to man and woman. They would need to be cut off from living forever so that the pain would end someday.
Now this creative being did something beyond what is sensible, reasonable and logical. The being pursued these humans for thousands of years. Trying again and again to be in relationship with them as it was in the beginning. Since the disconnection, the humans couldn’t grasp being connected to a being so big and beyond their small lives. So this being did the unthinkable. Born into a human family, this creator being became limited like the created beings. Then, as a human man, the being died for the humans and came back to life so that one day the creator being and the created beings might enjoy creation in harmony once again.
Now, how is this different for a teenage girl with an abusive boyfriend and a serious eating disorder? Could this story change her mind about her own worth? Would it captivate her imagination knowing that the Creator of all this stuff wanted to be lovingly connected to her? Can the story that she is a random occurrence of atoms have the same affect? Does it matter? Do we matter? To whom?
Stories arrange us. They put us somewhere and connect us to an idea of reality that shapes our life EVERY DAY.
What story is guiding your life today?