Storytelling is powerful. Stories enchant and delight, teach and inspire, challenge and motivate, imprinting a picture on our mind that helps us understand and make sense of the world. They make us feel alive, fall in love, and they break our hearts. Sharing a story is the most powerful way we have to communicate and connect.
From ancient cave paintings and camp fire stories…to a downloaded podcast, what could be more powerful than telling a story? Maybe leaving a story untold?
If Shakespeare had never written a play for an actor; Bono, Bob Dylan or the psalmist David never wrote a song; Steven Spielberg chose not to put his thoughts on film; Steven Jobs kept his crazy personal computer dream to himself; the apostle Paul decided not to tell of his journey; and Jesus Christ thought parables were too trivial to share…? The list goes on, because we can learn a lesson from every sphere we know.
I have heard it said that the graveyard is the wealthiest place in town – for here is where all the unwritten books are buried, the medical cures that remain undiscovered, the magnificent works of art that were never painted, and the songs that were never sung. All the untold stories that could have made the world a richer place.
Learning from the experience of the stories of others is far more powerful than the basic human need of simply being entertained. They help us choose how we will shape the future. Leaving stories untold denies others the opportunity to discern and interpret genuine dangers and essential truths discovered from the collective experience of a shared narrative.
Neuroscientists have discovered that when we share stories with others, the brain of the person listening actually synchronises with ours. Scientifically, when we are being told a story, every area in our brain that we would use when experiencing the events of the story are activated: our sensory cortex lights up when someone describes how delicious a certain meal was. Our motor cortex becomes active when someone tells a story involving movement and motion. We automatically link the journey of the story with literal happenings. Our brains become more active when we participate in a story.
Storytelling is too important to leave to just a chosen few. When we think of blockbuster stories that break box office records and top the best seller lists, it would be easy to convince ourselves that a story has to be elaborate and complex to be interesting. The truth is, the simpler a story, the easier it is to relate, and the more likely it will truly connect and make an impact.
Once upon a time I wanted to write but couldn’t shake the thoughts of, ‘Who am I to do something like that?’ So I didn’t. I couldn’t see how telling my story would benefit anyone – until I read a scripture that challenged me in Revelation: ‘And they overcame the evil one by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony…’
Our storytelling comforts and inspires, enlightens, strengthens and guides; and holds valuable power that someone will miss out on discovering if you don’t tell it.
Never underestimate the power of your story.
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