YourStory YourStory:Sharing stories as a spiritual act
Although I write at great length about the importance of support networks in my book for single women who choose motherhood, I don't "walk the talk" as well as I would like.
I have a few close friends and family that I count on greatly. I've gotten involved with my daughter's school. But it was through the church I joined to help my children grow in a spiritual community that I was reminded how powerful it is for the soul when we interact with others.
I found this out by accident. I signed up for what sounded like an intellectual workshop at my church that would explore our theological diversity. This sounded like something that might be interesting to ponder.
Yet the workshop wasn't for bystanders. The entire 90-minute period consisted of each of us speaking about the moments in our lives that led us to our particular theologies. And what happened was so ... magical ... that we didn't attempt to do anything else.
One by one, we heard moving, intense, honest revelations from roughly 15 men and women. We spontaneously started our conversations about faith by talking about low points in our lives that had prompted us to discover the mystery or spirituality of life.
We came from different religious backgrounds: fundamentalist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Catholic, agnostic. Many people reported having become disillusioned or depressed for long periods of time. One was raised as a Communist in the 1940s and 1950s, which she was ashamed of for decades until she found Unitarian Universalists and learned of healthy ways to put social justice into action.
Another guy worked with battered children and saw the dark side of life often, but survived using the values he learned as a child: There is positive to be found in every day and every life.
Perhaps my favorite story came from an older man who indicated that listening to everyone's stories had made him think about things he'd never thought of-and certainly never talked about-regarding how points in his life had led him to where he is today.
We heard common, yet unusual stories of everyone in the room. In the end, we came out unexpectedly lifted. Buoyant. Touched by the honesty that had spontaneously happened between all of us in answering a relatively simple question about how we found meaning in our lives, and what that meaning was for each of us. The minister who led the conversation was so moved that he made it a part of his sermon that week.
And what was it, really, that made many of the participants (including me) talk about the experience for weeks? There was not one defining moment when we saw with clarity what spirituality means; no profound summary that tied it all together.
Rather, we each felt a kind of enlightenment from the simple act of taking a step back, thinking about the defining moments of our inner lives and sharing it with others. Being vulnerable, and trusting, and deep in a way that gets beyond the general chitchat of everyday life.
What I was reminded of that night is how we develop confidence in articulating ourselves to others. We develop great power in connecting to other points of energy in our universe.
I encourage readers to do the same. Connect in a new way. See what happens when you leave the typical script of our outer lives-talking about work, parenting, causes, hobbies-and instead share stories about the inner values of your life and how they came to be.
See what happens when real people share the simple stories that make up their inner lives.
Mikki Morrissette is the author of "Choosing Single Motherhood: The Thinking Woman's Guide."