Your Story Matters
By Haeon Kang
When I think about some of the greatest influences on my life, I think immediately of stories, particularly of people’s testimonies. Testimonies are true stories about how God has acted in someone’s life. They can be riveting, heartbreaking, inspiring, emotional, joyous, subtle, or even frustrating. Hearing about the specific ways God interacts with others is incredibly influential to both the storyteller and the people listening. It opens up our minds to different possibilities, inspires us in our own journeys with God, and helps us to hold onto hope. One of the biggest reasons I became a Christian was because of the true stories I grew up with, the testimonies of my parents and other people around me. And ever since I was old enough to understand language, I have been disproportionately influenced by stories.
The stories we hear and tell ourselves have immense power to dictate how we interpret the past, how we think and act in the present, and how we build our futures. For example, if you hear or tell yourself the story that all people of a certain group are bad, you will avoid associating with them, or if you do, you may treat them as less than human. On the other hand, if you believe all people of a certain group are good, you will intentionally seek out people of that group and spend more time with them. Perhaps you will even try to become part of that group and in so doing, you change things or enhance things about who you are in order to fit that mold. In both cases, you act according to the stories you believe to be true. This is why the stories we are exposed to are so incredibly important.
In my early twenties, I became seriously ill and developed a condition that would put me on medication for my entire life. I was hospitalized for a month as the doctors tried different medications to try and stabilize me. It was a dark time in my life, but I very clearly remember what saved me. It was the stories my family and friends told me about my future. They would tell me about all the things we would do together when I got out of the hospital, the degrees I would finish, the thesis I would write, the time I would spend with my dog, the picnics and hikes and trips we would go on. Of course, they didn’t know what they were doing would have a life-saving impact on me. They probably didn’t even see these things as a big deal. They simply believed that I would make it out of this alive, and they communicated that to me in the plans they made for our future. But those stories absolutely saved my life. I began to believe those stories for myself, and I began to see a future apart from a hospital bed. It was this believing that gave me the drive and energy to get better.
When I got out of the hospital and readjusted to a “normal” life, I began to tell my story of recovery to others. My master’s thesis centered my experience as a Christian person with an illness and through telling my story, I began to hear back from people who were also struggling with illness or who had loved ones who were struggling. My life has since been flooded with stories from people who have found strength and inspiration in my story of recovery. Not only that, I have also been flooded with stories of others who have overcome illnesses and could relate to my story on a deep level. In telling my story, I created a community of people who could encourage each other and empathize with each other. This is the power of story.
We all have stories to tell, stories that are full of moments of joy and heartbreak, anticipation and disappointment, healing, and pain. Christians in particular have a unique story that, when told, can heal the world. The stories we have of God’s faithfulness, God’s hope for this world, and God’s unconditional love for humankind are ones that can transform lives. We are stewards of our stories and we are faithful when we tell them.
What I really want to drive home is that your story matters. And how you tell it matters. It matters to your kids, your spouse, your church community, your friends, your neighbours, and anyone else you encounter throughout your life. If you are an author, your story matters to everyone reading your book and your words have the power to lift someone up, give meaning to someone’s struggle, and impart hope into otherwise desolate situations. At Word Alive Press, we believe in telling good stories because we know the power of stories to transform and change lives. As Easter approaches, we encourage you to reflect on your own life and think about the kind of story you want to tell. In telling your story, you may change someone’s life forever.
For a blog that talks about the importance of how we tell our story, click here: The Power of Storytelling.
About this Contributor:
Haeon Kang is a Publishing Assistant with Word Alive Press. She has a master's degree in theology and loves to read, create art, and play with her dog and bird during her down time.
Terrific. This follows the amazing work Leslie Leyland Fields is doing around the world in churches, seminars and prisons. Your Story Matters is the title of her book. She has a community of around 900 regular taking part in her online teaching. Check her out. You’ll be encouraged by this author, commercial fisherman, and teacher in Alaska.
Precious words. I feel very encouraged by your story. Joe.