Restoring Community – Part IIIa: Sharing Stories

At Mount Hermon 2007, the keynote speaker, Dick Foth, talked about a concept called “history giving.” He said that we connect with others by sharing our stories. As we give our history to others, we invite them into our lives.

History giving highlights things we have in common, points of natural connection. How many times have you been to a conference or on vacation and started a conversation with a stranger, only to find out you once went to the same school or you know the same person. Instantly, the person no longer feels like a total stranger because you have a common history.

History giving also illuminates things that are unique about us. When we share our life stories, we reveal things about ourselves that people never knew. We provide more information that helps each of us see things from the other person’s perspective. We gain a deeper understanding of each other, why we each act or think or talk the way we do.

To truly give our history to another person requires being vulnerable and completely honest. Quite frankly, if we’re going to strive for community, then it must be you and I who initiate the history giving. We must be willing to put ourselves out there, knowing that others may hold what we say against us or think less of us or (gasp!) even not like us. It’s hard, and sometimes the repercussions really hurt. But I firmly believe that if we don’t break the chain of superficiality in relationships, then it will continue. We haven’t really created a safe place for relationships to deepen until we share our lives with others.

Once we’ve begun sharing our stories, we also must be willing to hear the stories of others. Learn to ask questions, and then learn to be quiet and listen. We’ll talk more about this side in a later post.

By the way, I’m sure it’s no coincidence that this topic is being discussed in the blogosphere. Stories are powerful in teaching us, binding us or tearing us apart. Check out LL Barkat (and here), Charity and Lynet’s for more thoughts on stories.

Okay, then. Go forth, be vulnerable and give your history!

Photo: An exciting Saturday afternoon (2007)

LINKED to this Post: Pat’s comments on Why didn’t you warn me?



  1. Karen

    Tina, first, I love your orangs, who obviously feel comfy enough to sit and do nothing with each other–my favorite kind of friends.

    Second, I share the common thread with you of basking in Dick Foth’s messages at Mount Hermon this year.

    Third, I’m eagerly anticipating being part of Mary’s blog tour and appreciate your helping orchestrate it.

    Enjoy your day!

  2. L.L. Barkat

    I think it’s interesting to consider that stories can either bind us or tear us apart. I hadn’t really considered the latter. But you are right (maybe this is what Charity was hinting at when she recently said she’s been musing about how we should and shouldn’t tell each other our stories).

  3. spaghettipie

    K – Thanks so much for stopping by. I’m looking forward to Mary’s tour as well, and appreciate your participation.

    LL – I was thinking about that point on a couple different levels. I started to write a response, but I think I’ll add another post.

  4. BJ

    That was one of my favorite messages by D. Foth. It really changed me. I also like how he talked about when you share your credentials in Washington, someone is going to trump you… that’s why history giving is safe. Or like you said… is it safe? Not really. But it’s totally worth the risk. I think you and I both did a little history-giving at the lunch table the first day of Mount Hermon. Thanks for letting me be honest about who I am and where I’ve been. It’s been very freeing. Besides, if I didn’t tell you.. you’d probably wire-tap my conversations with God anyway.

  5. spaghettipie

    BJ – shhhh! Don’t tell people that I can wire-tap those conversations (particularly the Democrats in Congress!) And I’ve loved getting to know you.

  6. A Life Uncommon

    Many have never really had the safety and support to even address their own story. Few have ever been heard without an interruption that might silence a vulnerable moment. When fear of mankind might push back the risk into deadened silence. Masks are made to conseil. Sorrow can cause such disfigurement that the macks might have to be sewn out of some thick medium. When A life is given safety then and only then can one truly reveal the core of wound. Risk must be accomplished on a gradual scale that the trust worthiness be tested out. Many who pour out without gaging risk are left to the wolves and soon die to the possibility of de-maskation.

  7. spaghettipie

    ALU – Safety in relationships is such an important part of creating community as we’re discussing. The question then becomes, how do we create safety?

  8. A Life Uncommon

    Trust is earned. it is a privilege that is given only when patiently deserved.
    In person hood we must first gain safety then a sense of self, to develop affiliation one must have a common bond. Belonging is as core to our human state as we can get. Unfortunately many a religion or group is more about exclusion than it is inclusion. That is why the cults exist. Once we had a sense of affiliation a common ground however obscure it might be in the beginning (like a blog) then aand only then can one pursue a mission it is our part to secure within those we so long to inspire and encourage a mission of their unique self, when that is gained then competency becomes root by root a tree branched out into the ability to grow. Safety is the first step how can one who has never known trust be able to just trust. This is accomplished by small risk/reward graduating into greater risk/reward. If others risk a little to trust us and we are trust worthy then in time they can trust a little for the first time.

    Be worthy in the little things and then we can be given greater things. To secure the safety for another being is a huge trust and a kindness. We are then examples and followers of the one who ultimately holds our safety in His divinity.

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