Telling Stories: Why We Should & Why We Must

Last weekend, during a trip to a large outdoor mall, I characteristically found myself holed up in a deep recess of Barnes & Noble, gobbling up a chapter of a book I’d been wanting to buy. The book was Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas, subtitled “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?” The book had been recommended to me on more than one occasion, and in just a half hour of reading it, I could understand why.

I snuggled up in a window seat on the second floor of that Barnes & Noble and began reading, for whatever reason, at chapter seven. I think it was the chapter’s title, “Sacred History,” that drew me. Thomas explained the importance of viewing your marriage as a history, emphasizing the idea that there’s no such thing as “the one,” but that the person you marry becomes the right person, “the only person,”[1] as he quotes from Anne Tyler’s novel. He or she is the only one who knows you that deeply, the only one with whom you have shared so much.

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Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas

For some, wide-angle thinking comes naturally to them. They can easily include their history with a person into their everyday view of that person. I will venture to say that I am not one of these people, and at times, none of us are. We are little insect-eyed things that see directly in front of us, and not behind or beyond.

We don’t have to succumb to our shortsighted tendencies. In Thomas’s chapter, he borrows advice from author Jerry Jenkins, who encourages couples to think of their marriage as a story, and to tell it often. “Tell it to your kids, your friends, your brothers and sisters, but especially to each other.”[2]

This idea was rattling around my head all week until I met with some women for discipleship group Thursday morning. We were having a very honest conversation about sharing our faith, especially trying to expose those reasons why we so often don’t share. In the middle of this talk, I remembered Thomas’s practical advice. Talk about your story often. Share your story.

It was so clear. I need to think about my relationship with God as a history. Thomas touches on this idea in his chapter, but as his book is really more focused on the marriage relationship than the faith walk.

Really, we could all be better at stretching out our lenses in every aspect of life—stretching ourselves to see our present in light of our past. We can’t expect to be able to do this, however, if we don’t do it first with our most constant Presence, whose history of loving us and sustaining us extends longer into the past than we could ever comprehend.

When you know and cherish that history, it becomes a part of you and will flow out from you. You will tell it because it will be your favorite story. Be an Israelite and bind it on your forehead if you have to,[3] and be reminded, as Israel was so sharply in Psalm 81:10, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.”

Know your Egypt. Talk about your Egypt, and talk about all of the places and times that have filled your journey with God between your Egypts. He is the same God yesterday, today, and forever.[4]

 

 

 

[1] Sacred Marriage, p. 124

[2] Sacred Marriage, p. 125

[3] Deuteronomy 11:18

[4] Hebrews 13:8

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