Audrey and Eve love stories about their younger selves. Often, a particular story will be requested. Last night Audrey turned to me and said, “Tell that story about me and Eve at the playground and how Eve said, ‘Little friend.’” And the story is: When Eve was four years old and Audrey was about fifteen months, we often went to a local playground in the afternoons. Audrey was still unsteady on her feet and toddled along. When she crossed the bridge on the play set, Eve would hold her arms in a wide circle around Audrey and call out, “Watch out, little friend coming. Be careful now. She’s a little friend.” The two would caravan back and forth across the bridge with Audrey wobbling along and Eve protecting her from unaware children who might brush against her sister.
Audrey loves this story and asks for me to tell it over and over. She beams when I share how Eve was a protective sister who devised a way to make sure little sister was safe while on the bridge at the playground.
Recently I read an article that quoted the New York Times family columnist, Bruce Feiler. In “The Family Stories that Bind Us,” Feiler explained how children who have a connection with extended family through stories are more resilient and better able to overcome obstacles. Feiler encourages families to tell their stories because stories empower children to persevere. The concept of telling stories as reminders of whom and whose we are ties directly to our faith stories.
As believers, we read stories of our faith ancestors such as Abraham and Sarai or Ruth and Boaz. Their stories shed light on our stories. We learn that we are not the only ones to struggle with family members who make poor choices or the only ones to face a tragedy that necessitates a new path in life. The faith stories in our Bible are our stories. By hearing and telling them, we find courage and strength to persevere. As believers, we can share our faith stories as well as our family stories.
As extended families gather in this season of holidays, tell those stories. Share about great- grandparents who were children during the Great Depression or about grandparents who remember the day Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Tell stories about how your families lived out faith. Tell about grandmothers who were president of the WMU or grandfathers who delivered firewood to widows because “That’s just what we do. We take care of people.” During this season, if you find yourself surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, ask for stories: “Can you tell me a story about when you were a child?” Their stories are our stories, and we can find strength in their telling.