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?