The Power of Story

I have discovered the power of story to change people.  I have seen a story heal shame and free people from fear, ease suffering and restore a lost sense of worth.  I have learned that the ways we can befriend and strengthen the life in one another are very simple and very old.  Stories have not lost their power to heal over generations.  Stories need no footnotes.

— Ruth Naomi Remen, M.D., Kitchen Table Wisdom, p. xxii

God Knows Our Stories

But the God of Scripture is also the God who refused to nuke Nineveh, even though that’s what Jonah wanted; who forgave David for a really staggering list of wrongdoings; who wants only for us stiff-necked people to repent and come home; who goes out into the stormy night for the one lost black sheep; who throws a party when the Prodigal Son returns; who loves us so much that God did indeed send his only begotten son to come live with us, as one of us, to help understand our stories — each one unique, infinitely valuable, irreplaceable.

— Madeleine L’Engle, The Rock That Is Higher, quoted in Glimpses of Grace, collected by Carole F. Chase, p. 323

Changing Your Story

Although we may be beginning to understand that our Story is just a Story and not the Truth, it still can feel a little risky to be tampering with it.  Adaptive beings that we are, we’ve figured out how to tolerate the limiting story.  We know our way around that territory, and we know what to expect from it.  When we open ourselves up to a new possibility, a new Story, we often fear we’re opening ourselves up to false hope.  What if nothing changes?  Then we will have to face disappointment which we could have avoided by sticking with the old Story.  I agree that it’s risky.  It takes courage to move toward what you want, to come out of the cultural trance and wholeheartedly go after what matters to you. . . .

When we orient our lives around what we most care about, we see new ways of being that we were blind to when we were focused on eradicating the problem.  I invite you to refrain from attending to something that needs to be fixed.  Instead, try looking at what you care about and what you really want.

The bottom line:  It’s All Story.  Abundance is a Story.  Scarcity is a Story.  Yes, there are facts supporting both of them, but remember that it isn’t the facts that shape our lives — it’s our Stories.

— Victoria Castle, The Trance of Scarcity, p. 44-46

Upgrading Your Stories

When we upgrade, we are trading . . . Story for Story.  We’re not trying to convince ourselves we can change the truth about ourselves by reciting endless affirmations.  That hardly respects our intelligence and, furthermore, it doesn’t work.  As long as we hold that something is the truth, it is unchangeable.  As soon as we recognize it for what it is, however, a story, the story buffer line is open and we can help ourselves to a better one.

Regarding our Stories, the question is never “Is it true?” because it can’t be true; it’s just a Story.  The question also isn’t “Is it the right Story?” because that implies there’s only one correct choice.  The most helpful question is “Is this Story useful?”  Given what I care about, what I want to contribute, and what matters to me, is the story I’m telling myself a useful one?  Most of us constantly replay hundreds of inherited default Stories that trample our life energy and steal our peace of mind.

— Victoria Castle, The Trance of Scarcity:  Stop Holding Your Breath and Start Living Your Life, p. 35-36


It is a miracle if you can find true friends, and it is a miracle if you have enough food to eat, and it is a miracle if you get to spend your days and evenings doing whatever it is you like to do, and the holiday season — like all the other seasons — is a good time not only to tell stories of miracles, but to think about the miracles in your own life, and to be grateful for them.

— Lemony Snicket, The Lump of Coal

Fairy Tales

Fairy tales awaken the inner child in us all, and that child is sorely needed in the middle years, when men and women are weighed down with responsibilities and endless chores.  This is the promise of the stories.  To every man or woman, pausing perplexed in the middle of life, magic and wisdom wait in unexpected places.

— Allan B. Chinen, Once Upon a Midlife, p. 21

Life Is Story.

The deepest convictions of our heart are formed by stories and reside there in the images and emotions of story. . . .

Life is not a list of propositions, it is a series of dramatic scenes.  As Eugene Peterson said, “We live in narrative, we live in story.  Existence has a story shape to it.  We have a beginning and an end, we have a plot, we have characters.”  Story is the language of the heart.  Our souls speak not in the naked facts of mathematics or the abstract propositions of systematic theology; they speak the images and emotions of story.  Contrast your enthusiasm for studying a textbook with the offer to go to a movie, read a novel, or listen to the stories of someone else’s life.  Elie Wiesel suggests that “God created man because he loves stories.”  So if we’re going to find the answer to the riddle of the earth — and of our own existence — we’ll find it in story.

— Brent Curtis and John Eldredge, The Sacred Romance, p. 38-40