Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Sharing Our Wisdom and Love Through Stories

 “The world is shaped by two things- stories told and the memories they leave behind.”
                                    Vera Nazarian, Science Fiction Author

My husband, John, comes from a very large family.  Whenever the family gets together, the stories abound of their growing up years. The matriarch of this large, loving family is my 85 year old mother-in-law, Gretchen.  She is strong in her love of the Lord and is a kind and gentle woman, with a great sense of humor.  She has a great sense of humor, an infectious laugh, and boy, can she cook fantastic Cajun food! She was a devoted wife to John’s father, Jack, until his death, after 50 years of marriage. She raised 10 kids and had a very rewarding career as a school teacher.

Gretchen is also a very wise storyteller. The wisdom in her stories has shaped her husband, children, their spouses, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Having been a part of this family for the majority of my adult life, the wisdom in my mother-in-law’s stories have shaped many aspects of my life.

One story in particular, has really had a lasting impact on my life. Just after she retired from teaching, Gretchen shared with me an observation about her life:
“I’ve lived my life in 20 years stages. The first 20 years I spent growing up and getting a high school education. The next 20 years I spent having my 10 kids and raising them. When my youngest was in kindergarten, I started the next 20 years of my life by getting my degree in education and having a fulfilling career as a teacher. Now I’m in the next 20 years of my life - the retirement years.”

When she shared this story with me, I was impressed with the many things she had accomplished in her life. I was also impressed with the wisdom she showed in focusing on a few key life areas at a time, instead of trying to do it all at the same time. She shared that story with me almost 20 years ago, and as you can tell it made a lasting impression, as I still share this story with others.  Her story gave me permission to focus on what was most important to me at different stages of my life.

Sharing stories from your family is a great way to pass on wisdom to your children. The memory of my mother-in-law’s story, in many ways, has shaped the progression of my life. Just as Gretchen’s story gave me wisdom to apply in my own life, telling your children family stories can have a profound impact on the decisions they make in their lives.

What stories have you heard that have stayed with you over the years?