I have long sensed that a strong connection must exist between God and story, but I’m only just beginning to put words to it. After all, story has always been the way civilization attempted to explain nature, ambition, good, and evil. Jesus himself chose story rather than lecture, and He often told stories rather than give answers.
Melissa, Lauren, Melanie, and I have been meeting for writers’ lunches for a few months now. One of the reasons I’m most grateful for these lunches is because of the way they’ve solidified and deepened our friendship so quickly. It’s not simply the consistent time spent breaking yummy Panera sourdough bread with one another–though that helps. I think our friendships have gone quickly to the deeper, stronger, more vulnerable places because we are telling our stories–quite literally. Each week, we bring a blog post (or something we might turn into a blog post later). We read them together, point out the typos, ask questions about the structure or meaning of phrases. More significantly, we affirm the truth the others are telling.
C.S. Lewis famously said, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’” Melissa, Melanie, Lauren, and I have become further knit together each time someone says, “Yes. I totally understood what you were trying to say there.”
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Right now, I’m reading Speak by Nish Weiseth. It’s simple and straightforward, without much flowery language or metaphor, but it is full of wisdom, and certainly lots of inspiration as far as writing and storytelling are concerned. I’m not quite finished with the book yet–maybe 2/3 of the way through it–but today, I found my thoughts wandering to our writing lunches.
Weiseth writes, “These shared stories and this retelling of ourselves are the things that build relationships. A relationship deepens when the stories get longer and more intricate, and a relationship deepens when the number of stories shared between people grows.” That is, quite literally, what’s happening when we meet for lunch.
I don’t yet know every detail of these girls’ lives, all the twists and turns their paths have taken, but we fill in the gaps with every story told (even the incomplete and the rough drafts–maybe especially those), and I’m learning I can trust these women like the oldest and dearest friends.
I think this must be why people trusted Jesus so easily when they met Him in-person: like the woman at the well, they could sense that He already knew their stories and loved them all the more for them.