Why Am I Telling This Story?

People who know me know my stories:DanaNoris

  • The First Funeral Story
  • The Baked Bean Story
  • The Spiderman in Mexico Story
  • The Heroic Wine Cellar Story
  • The Aaronic Blessing in the Mall Story
  • The Target Story
  • The Joan Benoit at The White House Story
  • The Private Parts Drawn on the Paper Towel Story
  • The Beautiful Witch Lady Story
  • The Brain Tumor Wedding Story
  • The Dessert Menu in the Ladies Room Story
  • The Exorcism Teacher in the Church Parking Lot Story

I literally have hundreds of them.  They are all true.   And some are amazing, if I may say so myself.

I’m trying to stop the habit of telling other people’s stories and sticking to my own, and this is hardest when it comes to my kids.  I share stories involving them because my kids are exceptional human beings and I want everyone to know. I’m that mom.

But this brings me to a question, and it’s ultimately a spiritual question:

Why Am I Telling This (or any) Story?  It’s a spiritual question, because the answer discloses my insecurities, my human needs, my sinfulness.

  • Am I sharing this story so you’ll think that I (or my kids and therefore – again –  I) am incredibly smart/good/clever/important?
  • Am I sharing this story to top your story, so that I’ll feel superior?
  • Am I sharing this story to bring someone else down?
  • Am I sharing this story to make an excuse for myself?
  • Am I sharing this story to draw attention to myself for no particular reason?
  • Am I telling this story because I know it’s a winner and I’m basically a Myers-Briggs introvert who wants to go home?

I’m trying now – before I tell a story – to ask myself these questions.  Stories are crucial tools for entertaining, explaining, teaching, admiring, and blessing people.  Or they can be used to imply to our listeners that we are, in fact, the prettiest girl in the room.  (I’m speaking to both men and women here.)

It seems to be a good spiritual discipline to ask the question.

Image of Dana Norris, host of the Story Club Chicago.


5 responses to “Why Am I Telling This Story?

  1. Please don’t stop telling your stories! They are a blessing (not to mention very entertaining!) to all who are fortunate to hear them! I ran across a taped version of your first funeral story in some of mom’s stuff and hope I can find a tape player somewhere so I can listen to it!!

  2. The challenge with stories is that ours intersect others. So unless the story has one character, ours are necessarily others’ as well.

    That said, I agree with Ruth. Don’t hold back. Not sure if there’s a story behind this post (yuk yuk) but I suspect you are already pretty discerning about what you tell.

    P.S. You forgot the Christmas Eve TV story. Which makes me chuckle every year.

  3. Oh right. That’s a good one, MA.

  4. 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.

  5. These are good questions to consider. That said, I agree with the others here, telling our stories is crucial to who we are and how we are with others. Still, always good to ponder the motivation behind the post and what it says about our interior selves. That is the good work of being a reflective practitioner.

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