Friday, October 19, 2012

How we tell the story

I live in Metro Detroit, and most of us are pretty excited that our Tigers beat the Yankees in four straight games in the American League Championship Series and are bound to the World Series. Great news for any home team, right?

This morning’s USA Today on my Kindle Fire, however, led with this story from Bob Nightengale on their “top stories” list: Nightengale: Ugly end will lead to changes for Yanks. It’s not about how Detroit won, but how the Yankees lost.

I get that story – the Yankees' sad performance in the ALCS series is noteworthy. And I don’t want you to think I’m so much of a sports fan that I can do more than three paragraphs on a baseball story, so I’m going to get to my point:

There’s always another side of the story. In the case of the ALCS, one side is the Tigers’ winning four straight, and the other is the Yankees’ losing four straight.

When I was in a position to counsel couples, I quickly learned there is always another side of the story when one spouse came to complain about the other.

The same is true for the narrative I have in my head and my heart about the gospel, the restoration and the church today. Sometimes we define things by what they are, and sometimes we define things by what they are not. And how we tell the story may determine how we feel about it.

For instance:

For some, a literal reading of the creation story pits the biblical account against scientific evidence for an “old earth.” For others, a more figurative reading of the creation story allows room for a discussion of scientific theory with less discomfort.

For some, changes in church practice signal that we have an open canon and continuing revelation. For others, it signals that earlier leaders were wrong and gives credence to the notion that today’s leaders could also be wrong about certain things.

You get the idea.

I recognize a tension in myself. I am that natural man that King Benjamin describes as an enemy to God. I am not submissive by nature, and must actively work to learn to submit myself to the will of my Father in Heaven. That is, according to King Benjamin, the way to overcome the natural man. For me, understanding how to submit comes from my own personal study, from what I hear across the pulpit, and from what I feel in my heart in the quiet moments when I can seek out the promptings of the spirit.

In the end, my own goal is to sort out not what my narrative should be, but what God’s narrative is. And my life experience has taught me that I’m likely to find clues in the places someone reading this blog might expect: the scriptures, the temple, modern prophets and personal revelation.

Of course, I’m still learning. If you were to take a cross section of my understanding of the divine narrative today, I hope it’s better formed than it was ten years ago. And I hope that ten years from now, it will even better than today. I can share my view of that divine narrative, and you might disagree with me on one point or another (or ten or twenty points…). That’s probably ok, because you and I are likely in different places in our journey. I have things I could learn from you and from your experience. And maybe you could learn something from me, too.

What’s key is that I am seeking to discover the Lord’s narrative, rather than write my own.

Oh, and by the way -- my latest post at Real Intent, "Living Imperfectly" (published earlier this week), is here.

And don't forget to check out the short story contest finalists at Everyday Mormon Writer, here.

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