As he explained the diagram, we all begin with our own story—our own wants and needs, our own experiences and gifts and wounds. Our story is important. But if I am limited to my story, if I am confined to my own wants and needs and do not have meaningful human contact with other human beings, I will be stuck in Hell.
When we meet another person, we naturally swap stories. If we establish a connection, if our stories overlap somehow, our two stories come together, at least in part. My Story becomes Our Story. That is considerably more satisfying than My Story alone.
But, our presenter explained, “Our Story” is normally defined over against the story of others. His example, which spoke to me, was “Bulldog Nation,” the fans of the University of Georgia football team. I consider myself part of Bulldog Nation. He noted that fans can bond around their common loyalty to the team. And part of bonding in support of the Georgia Bulldogs is hating rival teams. In Massachusetts, I think about the Red Sox and the Yankees. It is fun to be part of a group, and fun to hate rival groups. But ultimately, said our presenter, this is only a more pleasant version of Hell.
The only way to get past the problem of competing versions of “Our Story,” competing versions of who “we” are as distinguished from those who share different stories than ours, is to see our story/stories in the larger context of “The Story,” the big story that we all share, the story of the God we know in Jesus Christ. All the versions of “Our Story” should come together in God’s Story, should find their true significance and their proper place in The Story of which we are all a small part.
Our nation is badly in need of a big story that can hold together the many competing versions of “my story” and “our story.” As Christians, we should be able to pint the way. We should be able to glimpse the big story of which our stories are a part. And we should be able to share that more comprehensive, more compelling, more true and authentic story with the people around us.
I love this notion of starting with my story, bonding with others in my community to share a common story, “our story,” and seeing the whole in light of the story of God in Jesus Christ. I must think more about how God’s story shapes my story and the different versions of Our Story of which I am a part. And I would like to be much better at sharing with others how the nested stories can and do work together. Much work to be done!