What If I Fear My Story?

This week’s podcast continues our Story series, in which Dan is addressing some of the most common questions he hears—like “What if I don’t have a story?” and “How do I trust my memory?”—from people interested in engaging their stories and the stories of others—work we’ll be fostering through the next Story Workshop, April 20-22 in Denver, CO. This week, Dan discusses the fear that so many of us hold about confronting the stories of our past.

“How do we approach our story without being bound to fear? How do we approach the issues that come up in a way that leans us toward the comfort of Jesus rather than anxiety?”

Dan breaks this fear into three different categories:

  1. I’m afraid of what will be brought up, so I’m reluctant to give myself over to this process.
  2. How will I be received? If I share a story that really matters to me, will I be handled with honor and care?
  3. Where will this story take me? Will it lead to more harm, or could it actually lead to redemption?

“Any story that is really important can never be told in a single telling. […] In its telling, the questions that will arise will require that story to be reengaged again. So all important stories have to have a context of reiteration, therefore a person who understands that you don’t tell a story and have it be over if the story matters. A story has to be engaged, and pondered, and distilled, and then allowed to ferment.”

Engaging the stories of others requires both tenderness and strength—an ability to invite the teller into deeper truths without being pushy or demanding. To be able to do that, first we must be able to tell our own story and to recognize the biases and assumptions that we formed as a result of our story. In other words, as we’ve said before and we’ll say again, you can’t ask someone to do the work that you haven’t done yourself.

“Then the issue of fear gets addressed. I am afraid of the past and what I don’t know. I am afraid of what’s going to happen as I engage that, and I have a history of people not hearing, not listening. It’s hard. It’s a huge risk. But I think the real issue is: Do I really want the stories I’m engaging to break my heart, to make my heart more tender, to receive from the Lord God more comfort, therefore, more confidence, therefore more freedom—to be free not from, but far more free for the sake of bringing goodness to others?”

If you are intrigued by this conversation and want to begin the beautiful work of engaging your own story and learning to engage the stories of others, we invite you to join us for our next Story Workshop, April 20-22 in Denver, CO.