The simple question "What's your story?" sounds like an easy ask. So why did it leave me bumbling away and at a loss for words?
After all, I love stories, I write stories, stories are my jam. I had just spent the last hour hearing the sweet personal story of the asker - a young man and his girlfriend. They shared openly what was on their hearts and I was privileged with the chance to pray over their needs. It was a natural next question for them to want to know me. So why was it so hard to share in a real way? The truth is, it's easy for me to be curious about other people, but it's harder to be vulnerable with them.
When the "what's your story?" question came up, my first thought was to answer in a surface way. Factual answers like: I'm a writer, I've been married for going on 27 years, I'm a mom/stepmom to three adult children who really don't need any momming. I love cooking and gardening. But the truth is the question was asked to know me personally, not my resume or my list of activities.
To be real, my answer was kind of lame. I awkwardly talked about how I loved serving others because it allowed me to practice my faith, what I'm learning, and how it was a chance to spend less time on my own worries. It was a passable answer, but again, more about my doings than who I truly was at the heart of things.
Here's what I wished I would have said:
"Thank you for asking about me. It's a rare quality that people actually want to take the time to know each other's stories. I think if I had to sum up what I'm about, I would say I love to encourage people. Whether that's in my words through writing or spending time listening well to other people, or serving people - like my family, my church community, or friends. The times when I have either truly felt like I'm flourishing in life are when I'm encouraging others in Christ."
What About You? How Would You Answer That Question?
My encouragement is to take a moment to think about that question. Don't dive right into your factual self, but consider answering it with what it is you truly love and what makes you feel most alive. How has God designed you that makes you uniquely you? What's your real story?
Isn't that what we really want to know when we meet people? Not just their accomplishments, but the trueness of their heart. This takes a smidge more vulnerability than listing where your work and your hobbies. But when people take the time to truly know who we are, we owe them a good answer.
When we share our stories, we share the very best of who we really are.