Consciously or unconsciously, or both, we shape our lives through stories. This is true in general: a story told and retold about a grandmother’s courage during the years of the Great Depression can come to represent a standard of courage acknowledged by the heirs of that sturdy woman. But in particular, stories are also key in how we understand ourselves as persons of faith. The stories that shape us may be family stories, stories we repeat out of our own experience, other’s stories we identify with and appropriate for our own, stories that move us, stories that appall us, and biblical stories that made an impression in our youth and have been carried into our adulthood, and on and on. The stories can be positive or negative, a mixture of both, or can be viewed as simply, “the way things are.” Stories capture the emotions that inform our religious lives—our hopes, fears, doubts, joys, frustrations, expectations, and pain.
And our stories have histories. We frequently change stories in the retelling, sometimes in important ways. We also abandon stories that no longer ring true, discover new ones we find more compelling, and combine stories to develop a network of narrative that define what we believe, who we believe, and how we believe.
During the consultation, board members shared stories that have given shape to their religious lives, and explored how stories have changed them. They also reflected on the role imagination has played in their religious lives over time.