Here are 3 big reasons I believe Story is so powerful.
1. Stories are emotional. All people, save a handful of psychopaths, make decisions on an emotional level. Logic is important, yes. But it is fundamentally emotion backed up by logic that makes us move or change. Stories create emotion in us like nothing else. I could make a case that without story there would be no emotions at all. Data can’t cause emotion unless we can connect it to a story.
2. Stories are communal. Imagine a total stranger getting up in front of a room of a few hundred people. If they recite facts at us we are going to quickly grow bored. If they impose their beliefs on us we will be offended. If they ask for something from us we will grow jaded. But if they tell a story – maybe the story of their biggest failure, or the fist time they fell in love, or the day they buried their father – then we connect. Story breaks down barriers. That may be what I love the most about them. It could be a liberal black lesbian talking at the NRA convention, but all the differences fade away when a monumental breakthrough occurs mid-story. It’s that commonality that brings to mind the time you yourself failed, or fell in love, or buried a parent. Suddenly we are way more the same than we are different.
3. Stories are imaginative. We are hard-wired to argue over facts and issues. We develop –isms and –ologies to define ourselves. Brian Williams aside, stories are rarely debated. Stories engage our brain in a different way. We suspend our opinions and judgments in the middle of a well-told story. We’re ready to take the ride with someone. We may judge them, but it won’t be in the moment. In the moment, we’re just present. Being present with someone creates space for God to move.
We all go through life with both declared and hidden agendas. We can’t help that. But stories allow us to set down our agendas if just for a moment – like a Christmas Day cease-fire. The most politically charged issues can be gently discussed when it’s someone’s story. I truly believe that’s where God shows up.
We’re trying something July 24th 8pm at The Woodward Theater in Cincinnati. A group of people from all backgrounds, faiths and political affiliations will be coming together to tell stories about their heroes. There will also be some comedy and live music. We’ve done this once before in a show called KISS and it was a holy night. HERO will be the same. I hope you will join us.
Purchase tickets here.
Photo by Darrin Ballman