23 June 2016

That's your story to tell

Matthijs and I had a delightful visit with a couple last week. I knew them from my time in Grand Rapids and appreciate how they, too, are a mix of cultures, love community and love God.

While we were talking, every so often they'd stop and say "oh, that's your story" or "no, that's my story, let me tell it." It was striking, and I loved it.

I loved it because it highlighted how each of them was unique and each had their own individual stories to tell. Even the things that they'd experienced as a couple, if she had initiated the situation, then it was her story to tell, even if he also experienced it. By actively recognizing that something was the other person's story, they made space for the other person to be part of the conversation and to have a voice. The whole experience made me appreciate each of them better, as well as to appreciate how this little phrase "that's your story to tell" was an outworking of the hospitality they had towards each other.

The experience also motivates me to use that phrase more often. I like talking, love telling stories, and sometimes like being the center of attention. This sometimes comes at the cost of being hospitable. It'd be good for my ego and for my practicing of hospitality, not only to Matthijs, but also to others, if I could at times stop and realize that, no, this is not my story to tell: it's your/his story. And I should not only refrain from telling it, but instead should encourage you/him to tell it.

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