I have the privilege of leading a weekly mentor group of college guys. Recently during one of our group meetings, I was struck by something. We had all experienced a particularly difficult week and as each guy shared his story, I became impressed with the dynamic of what was happening in the room.

Our stories were poignant. Each guy was a story, a great story that included frustration and resolve; pain and joy; discouragement and victory; growth, trust, hope, excitement and love. As each story unfolded, it became evident that there were parts of the story that we all connected and related to. It also became apparent that each story was part of the greater story of us, as a group of friends. Our stories were interwoven.

Most importantly, however, I watched each person, including myself, slowly become refreshed and renewed through the sharing of our stories – and what struck me was the power of the story.

Image courtesy of adamr @ www.freedigitalphotos.net

 

We need each other’s stories!

Our stories create reality. Our stories tell us who we are, where we are going, and what we are becoming. Telling our stories and listening to others creates a critical connection for us to experience the power of the story.

Telling your story will be empowering because of the following reasons:

1. Telling your story brings validation and value:

As I sat with the guys in my mentor group and listened to their stories, I watched each guy engage the other’s story. They asked questions, sought clarification, and responded empathetically. I noticed that there were times when each guy’s story was validated. Their ideas and experiences were understood. Their opinions were affirmed. There was even validation when there was disagreement because each guy was allowed to tell, and be heard.

It was as if the story was now real because someone heard it. It wasn’t a fabrication of events in an individual’s mind or a series of crazy notions in the gap of the surreal. It was valid. The ideas were explained, misinterpretations were corrected, and the events were spoken. You’ve probably had this experience before where something happens to you and you just can’t wait to tell someone about it. You may think that it’s not real until you share it. That’s validation.

Each guy also felt valued because his story was being heard. Telling our stories gives us significance and value. We are stories in progress, constantly growing, changing and seeking greater significance. When someone listens to our story, we come away with a renewed sense of value.

2. Telling your story brings perspective and direction:

Have you ever had an experience where you met with a friend who begins to tell you about an ordeal that he or she is going through. The conversation becomes more impassioned and you start to realize that you are not saying a word because your friend is really, “on a roll.” After the conversation (or monologue, to you) your friend thanks you for your help. You didn’t say more than two words the entire time. What your friend gained was perspective.

When we tell our story we actually see it too. When your story comes out of your mouth, you get to look at it. Without telling, your story is impotently singular in perspective, floating around in your head. But when your story is in the middle of the room rather than in recesses of your mind, your perspective becomes clearer. This often results in direction.

3. Telling your story crafts vision and builds dreams:

Dreams, hopes, aspirations, desires, etc… are all woven into the fabric of our stories. When we tell our stories, those dreams are shaken free. They begin to come alive. We begin to envision what could be.

Dreams and goals are also elements of the vulnerable part of our stories. While vulnerability reveals our humanness and can expose our flaws, vulnerability can also free us!

I have encountered many who fear that their dreams will be dashed and they will be rejected if they tell their story. While there is the potential for this to happen, we must realize that fear shuts down dreams. Where there is no vision people perish because deep within in us is the desire for our hopes and dreams to be known. Telling your story provides that opportunity.

4. Telling your story brings healing:

Let me tell you the rest of the story with my mentor group.

After a while, there was a lull in the conversation. Each guy had shared his story. We realized that a few hours had passed and we laughed, cried, rested, rekindled – and saw God, together.

How?

We were known.

Our hearts were bound together through our stories and we became united in a deeper way. We cared for each other, advised each other, and joined in each other’s struggles and hurts. We became aware of the collective wisdom in our verbal exchanges. It was a profound and impacting experience. We became a part of each other’s stories – an element of healing, hope, and redemption for each other.

Know and be known.

I love mentoring. I relish the connections forged, the friendships built, the stories told, and the adventures shared. The best part is, its simple. Mentorship is simply intertwining your life’s story with that of another in an intentional way. Knowing and being known.

There’s no special training necessary and you’d don’t have to be perfect.

The powerful story I share with those college guys goes on. But more importantly, yours can too! People love a story – tell yours and listen to others.

 

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