Our Stories Have Power

Mary and Martha cup

Since moving to Kentucky, I’ve gotten involved with teaching English to refugees. They work hard and occasionally despair of ever learning the language well enough to make it here, and there’s no turning back.

But every so often I see a light come on in one of their faces and I know they are starting to get it. They are starting to think maybe they can learn to navigate the waters of their new circumstances.

Nothing beats seeing that light in their faces. It’s the light of hope.

I SAW THAT SAME LIGHT recently on the face of a father who’s sustained a tremendous blow he hasn’t been able to talk about. For two years now, he’s barely been able to talk about it. But then I told some of my story and something happened.

We are at a cookout.
Men stand over the grill, discussing cars.
Children play tag.
I cease playing hide-and-seek and sit on the patio, chatting. When I reference my story, the great wound sustained and my ensuing withdrawal, that father lights up. He sits upright in his chair and says, “That’s what happened to me!”

And there’s that look, the look of someone who, for the first time in a long time, is starting to think that, while there’s no turning back, there’s a lot of life ahead, and maybe, just maybe, the waters can be navigated.

Nothing beats seeing that light, that hope.
I am again reminded: Our stories, when we risk sharing them, have the power to help set captives free. This is important work in this world.

If I hadn’t stopped playing hide-and-seek, I would have missed it.

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About Marilyn

Reading, thinking, listening, writing and talking about faith, creativity, ESL for refugees, grief and finding the story in a story. Student of Spanish. Foe of procrastination. Cheez-it fan. People person with hermit tendencies or vice-versa. Thank you so much for reading.
This entry was posted in community, courage, creativity, encouragement, finding your voice, writing. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Our Stories Have Power

  1. pastordt says:

    I am so glad you stopped playing hide and seek. Welcome back, Marilyn! When did you move to Kentucky? Weren’t you in Ohio? Or somewhere near there?


    • Marilyn says:

      You are right. We were in Ohio, but last September we relocated here (job transfer, maybe the last). It’s been great. We loved where we were in Ohio, but we love it here, too!


  2. Jacki says:

    I love this, Marilyn! So glad to be reading your words again. Hope… A word swirling in my thoughts lately.


    • Marilyn says:

      Great to hear from you again, Jacki! Is there a specific reason hope is in your thoughts lately? If so, and you can say, I’d love to hear. Email me.


  3. Belinda says:

    And aren’t we all in one big story? I love that thought, and the thought of how important it is to tell our own for the sake of others.


  4. sarahfarish says:

    Printing this…it’s a good reminder. I have a friend who speaks frequently. While in Texas for a speaking engagement, a woman asked her in the restroom: When will we hear your story? And the speaker said…You won’t. You’ll hear the gospel. For a long time I struggled with this. Even erred on the side of “yeah, telling our stories makes it all about us, and we should just talk of Jesus.” This speaker is a great woman of God, but I finally decided to disagree with her. When I tell my story, it’s really not about me at all. In fact, it’s the hope of Him in me as anyone who knows ‘my story” knows that it was Jesus. I am the light he sent into this world – the part of the world in which is He places me at any given time. To hide his work in my life seems to be hiding under a bowl to me. And sometimes I do not know how I feel or what I think until I hear another articulate it. So very thankful for those who authentically share as “they set the captives free.”


    • Marilyn says:

      Timing has so much to do with sharing, don’t you think? I sometimes fear that in advocating for story, a reader will rush out and dump all their stuff on the world without sufficient internal processing. When teaching workshops on this, we always spend time discussing that aspect. Enjoyed the anecdote, Sarah!


  5. Pingback: When Telling Your Story is a Scary Thing and It’s Just Easier Not to. | MarilynYocum.com

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