My wife and I love to share stories of our girls.
Familiar recitations of shared experience
comprise common evening fare
and the source of much joy and laughter.
One of us begins a story,
and with pleased smiles of recognition,
the other finishes it
as we each anticipate what we both know is coming.
We also love to swap stories—
that is, to hear new stories—
stories of those experiences of which one of us was a part
and one of us was not—
that is, to give and receive memories we don’t share.
We’re not threatened by any of this.
Our sense of belonging together as family
is not threatened by stories of our children that we don’t recognize—
particularly when within those stories we don’t know
we do recognize their unique personalities,
familiar tendencies, habits and traits.
Our love for our children (and for each other)
is not threatened
by another’s unique experience of them.
to hear of their individuality experienced apart and distinct from us—
sometimes having reaffirmed what we know of them,
sometimes having new insight offered.
And our sense of our own children is deepened
in the embrace of another’s story.
It is joy.
Why then is it, when it comes to God,
that we fear the experience of others—
deny experience not shared—reject experience not recognized?
Do we really only want reaffirmed what we think we already know?
Why would we not anticipate and enjoy
the opportunity and the celebration of
the wonder of discovering God distinct from us—
the fun of recognizing the God we know in stories we don’t?