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The Power of Story – Shawna R. B. Atteberry
Feb 232010

In stories, the subconscious mind gives voice to some of its most deeply cherished longings. In myths and legends, men and women make desperate attempts to tell one another who they are, why they are here, where they are going, and what they are meant to do. –Jim Ware, God of the Fairy Tale: Finding Truth in the Land of Make-Believe*

I was frightened, and I tried to heal my fear with stories, stories which gave me courage, stories which affirmed that utlimately love is stronger than hate. If love is stronger than hate, then war is not all there is. I wrote, and I illustrated my stories. At bedtime, my mother told me more stories. And so story helped me to learn to live. Story was in no way an evasion of life, but a way of living life creatively instead of fearfully. –Madeline L’Engle, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art (Wheaton Literary Series)*

Stories have always been important to me, to who I am. I have read stories since I learned to read, and before that my mother told me stories. One of the first stories I remember writing was in the second grade. The only thing I remember is that it was set on Venus–we were studying the solar system in science.

I think the reason I prefer fiction to nonfiction is you can say things in a story that is harder to say in an article. You can challenge the status quo and confront issues from the side instead of head on. I think story carries more power and truth than an article based on fact. We have confused fact and truth: they are not the same thing, and they cannot always be equated. Facts and datum are just one part of truth–one facet. Not everything can be quantified and qualified by scientific method. I think that is the main reason that literalist Christians who have to prove the Bible as fact irritate me. Godde and her acts in this world cannot be reduced to mere facts and datum. And that does not make Godde or her actions any less true.

Story has the power to make you admit you are not the person you want to be. In story we can admit to what we really want and what we’re really looking for. It’s a safe haven, a sanctuary. There we can admit what our wildest longings and passions are, and it’s okay. I have learned more about God and life through story than I ever have through facts thrown at me about how God exists, and here’s the time line (or insert another chart) to prove it. I have learned more about who I am and who I want to be through story than through any other means. There is a reason why 60% of the Bible is narrative or story. We live in our stories. Life does not happen in one set of equations to another set of facts to another set of definitions. Life happens in living with each other, our stories overlapping, and growing into new and different stories.

I like to write nonfiction, but there is a reason why I write creative nonfiction: I need a story. But truth be told, I will always be  more at home in fiction than nonfiction, and fiction will always be my first choice when it comes to writing. (Hmmm may be I really do need to balance working on fiction and nonfiction more. May be I would write more of both if I wrote my first love along with the second. Is it possible to work on both a novel and nonfiction book at the same time?)

Here’s the last of my storytelling rambling: Nothing beats a good story…except for writing a good story.

(Originally posted on July 22, 2006. Sometimes you need to read back over old blog posts to remind yourself what you’re really supposed be to doing.)

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Did you know there are only eight verses in the Bible that discourage women from speaking and holding leadership positions in the church? Did you know there are thousands of verses in the Bible that tell the stories of women who were leaders in their homes, towns, and religious circles? Meet the women in the Bible who were religious & civic leaders, business women, & women who challenged both Jesus and Moses in What You Didn’t Learn in Sunday School. What else didn’t you learn in Sunday School? Find out when you buy What You Didn’t Learn in Sunday School: Women Who Didn’t Shut Up & Sit Down from Wipf and Stock Publishers or Amazon.com today.

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  5 Responses to “The Power of Story”

  1. Found my way here while blog surfing and thought I would stop and say hello :o)

  2. Hi! I’ve just met you at Chicago Writes yahoo group. Someone else on the same page as me–there are lots of us out there. That book sounds so great!

    Have you published anything yet?


  3. No I haven’t published anything yet, but Discipleship Journal liked the query I sent them, and I am writing an article on speculation for them. So hopefully soon.

  4. Amen to this post! I also feel that it was from reading stories as a child, fairytales, Biblical stories, novels that I learned values like courage and compassion and the desire to hold myself to thoss standards.

  5. Elizabeth I feel the same way.

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