In every story, there are layers. When I started a new assignment a few months ago, I knew I did not know the story. I know I have listened to several layers of the story. There is a growing sense of history and perspective. As I meet and simply ask, I find that most want to share with someone that is listening. I also know that there are more stories to come if I am willing to be present.
With each story, I find myself with a question. What should I do with the information I now have? Do I hoard it with the idea of using it to my advantage when the time is right? Is it something that I should feel good about?
While the first question is important, I am not sure the other questions are important. Stories are priceless gifts we share with each other. With each, one takes a step closer to the other’s heart. With time and trust, we have an insider’s view. Similar to the laws in many countries, insiders have unique responsibilities. I believe they apply here.
We should do no harm with what we know. The gift of knowing another’s story can provide the knowledge of how to inflict pain. If we are insiders then trust says that we will not use another’s story to harm.
If someone is in danger, our insider position makes us accountable as first responders. An examples was when “Paul’s nephew, his sister’s son, overheard them [enemies] plotting the ambush. He went immediately to the barracks and told Paul.” (Acts 23.16) Our responsibilities, from prevention to intervention, are the same.
Stories are an invitation to walk beside another. In whatever role, the more we step inside the closer our journeys become. In every circumstance, our lingering question remains to be shown. What will we do with what we know? Are we willing to nurture, acting with compassionate wonder? Will we share the load? Will we be Hope, acting to make a difference?
In our actions today, our story will be told.