Why Your Life Stories are Worth Telling pt1

Everyone loves a good story.

Stories transport us outside our experience or ignite something within the soul that inspires us on a uniquely human level. The most memorable stories are those of everyday people like you and me who:

- overcome hardship

- display generosity and mercy

- are joyful in unusual circumstances

- have an experience we completely relate to

- have an experience very different from our own

We’ve all been moved by a story that causes us to reflect on our own lives. Your life stories remind us that we are connected, and we only make that connection when a story is shared. You may know your mother or father from a child’s perspective, though you are all now adults, but you may not know much about your parents as the rest of the world experiences them.

Seeds of understanding

My father was known for his gentle demeanor, quick wit, and patient counsel. My mother for her hospitality, love of learning, and skill at managing money. What I did not know about my parents was how often they shared money with others in need; no questions asked, no guarantee of repayment.

I never knew this deep level of generosity embodied in their marriage until I casually interviewed my mother in her last years. As her stories emerged, so did the heart of a deeply generous couple.

Power of sharing family stories

Their story caused me to reflect on my own sense of generosity and inspired me and my husband, Mike, to host a “Pay-It-Forward” New Years party. As our guests walked through the door to our home, each one was surprised to receive an envelope containing a$1 to $20 bill and instructions to give it to someone in need.

Funded by nothing more than inspiration and a couple of dollars, we heard back from nearly everyone. Their responses were filled with stories of gratitude and a renewed sense of our universal connectedness as they multiplied their dollars into a local tank of gas for someone or a micro-loan in a third world country. One question became one story that became the dozens of stories of generosity.

What inspiring stories lurk behind unasked questions in your family?