Stories aren’t easy to tell. They are best lived out, breathed in, experienced, because words should be stumbled upon, not forced off the tongue.
Stories require relation; living requires relation. What is relation? Relation can be the “act of telling or recounting,” but more significantly it is a “quality (such as resemblance) that connects two or more things or parts as being or belonging […] or as being of the same kind.” (Merriam-Webster)
Stories are meant for empathy, to draw us near to the posture of others, the suffering, the joy, the lukewarm. Leslie Jamison, in her The Empathy Exams: Essays, states, “Empathy comes from the Greek empatheia - em (into) and pathos (feeling) - a penetration, a kind of travel. It suggests you enter another person's pain as you'd enter another country, through immigration and customs, border crossing by way of query: What grows where you are? What are the laws? What animals graze there?” (Jamison, The Empathy Exams: Essays) Who are we as human beings? Where are we? Considering these questions, an opportunity is offered to all, to travel, to step into, to live in some else’s where. This is relation; this is empathy; this allows for story.
What are the implications and expectations, then for God’s story, for each other’s stories, lived out in the earth for the purpose of the kingdom? What does relation, empathy, and story, look like here? Imago dei. All human beings were and are made in the image of God and the world and everything in it belongs to God. In Psalm 104, David testifies to the glory of the work of God’s hand, praising, “How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” (Psalm 104: 24) God’s story embodies and requires all of his creation, and in turn our own stories are founded on human beings’ relation with and empathy for one another.
When considering humanity, Compassion is immediately brought to mind.With this idea, the understanding and deep feeling of the human condition, there is a need and desire to capture such a feeling in bronze. But then what becomes of compassion? When does humanity then act on the feeling? Paul urges, “Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from His love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” (Phil 2:1-5)
And so let the story begin with Him, lived out through you.