The Stories We Find Ourselves In

You can usually tell what I’m going through or thinking about by the books I read. There are points in my life that require memoirs, young adult fiction, novels, or some good ole children’s lit. The same is true for my Netflix history. Some nights call for a ‘90s rom-com while others need a serious documentary or a mushy tear jerker.

Over the last two years, I’ve done my fair share of reading books and watching movies. Adulthood can be tough and stories helped me through and gave me perspective. Anne of Green Gables when a friend passed away. Hamilton when I need a reminder of forgiveness. Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga when I need a glimpse of all that’s good and holy in this world. Finding Neverland when I need that child-like wonder renewed. Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha when I need a reminder of God’s grace and redemption.

In great stories, we may be children again. We are vulnerable, happy, selfless. One of the sadnesses of the teenage phenomenon is the tragic joy of self-awareness. It is as if, as we grow, we recapitulate the Fall. We realize what we are, and we set about sewing those fig leaves. I do not intend to advocate the Pelagian view that we are born sinless–it’s St. Augustine for me–only that, as we age, the sin at work in us seems to deepen, entrench, and in our minds there grows a terrible awareness of who we are and what we are becoming. Stories can be an escape from this. But they can do more than just remind us of who we were. Great stories whisper to us about who we truly, deeply are. Or may become. (S.D. Smith, A Magic Deeper Than Tales)

One book that I’ve read several times in the last six years is Epic: The Story God is Telling and the Role that is Yours to Play by John Eldredge. It’s a beautiful little book you can read in just a couple hours. It’s jammed packed with quotes, anecdotes, and Biblical truth of the grand narrative we find ourselves in. It’s helpful in providing perspective for this wild and crazy life that is often difficult and confusing to maneuver.

“For when you were born, you were born into an Epic that has already been underway for quite some time. It is a Story of beauty and intimacy and adventure. A story of danger and loss and heroism and betrayal.” (John Eldredge, Epic: The Story God is Telling)

“It is a world of magic and mystery, of deep darkness and flickering starlight. It is a world where terrible things happen and wonderful things too. It is a world where goodness is pitted against evil, love against hate, order against chaos, in a great struggle where often it is hard to be sure who belongs to which side because appearances are endlessly deceptive. Yet for all its confusion and wildness, it is a world where the battle goes ultimately to the good, who live happily ever after, and where in the long run everybody, good and evil alike, becomes known by his true name…That is the fairy tale of the Gospel with, of course, one crucial difference from all other fairy tales, which is that the claim made for it is that it is true, that it not only happened once upon a time but has kept on happening ever since and is happening still.” (Frederick Buechner, Telling the Truth)

Read on! The stories are true, my friends. Lose yourselves in stories because you may just begin to understand more about your place in this life.

Hannah Zimmerman : Youth Advocate and Design