Tell the Whole Story

Friendly Reminder: Tell the Whole Story

By Andy Stanton-Henry

In the last Friendly Reminder, I invited you to “tell a story” — to incorporate more narrative into your life, love, and leadership. Today, I would like to be a bit more specific in my invitation: “tell the whole story.”

By “whole story,” I don’t simply mean to include all the facts and details (although I am a big believer in that!).

I mean that we should tell stories in a way that promotes wholeness.

As individuals and organizations, our portfolios of stories should include a range from past failings requiring repentance, spiritual courage inspiring action, and complex history provoking discernment. There are many simplistic stories about Quakerism, some glorifying, others demonizing. I don’t think they are “whole stories.” We need to talk to each other about all of it: challenge, affirmation, possibilities.  

Partial truths and partial stories cannot heal us. And they do not have the power to move us into our vital futures.

There is a lovely gospel story in Mark 5 about a woman seeking healing. She is determined that if she could only touch his clothes, she could be made whole again. In a moment of transformation, she reaches out and touches Jesus, and is “freed from her suffering.”

But the circle of wholeness is not quite complete. Jesus wants to talk with her. So he asks a simple but surprisingly profound question: “Who touched me?”

The disciples dismiss his question. They are doing crowd-control and not interested in pausing for human contact. But Jesus insists. And in doing so, he affirms the value of every individual and the sacredness of every story.

As we move through our lives, we are constantly “touching” others and being “touched” by others. Friends, strangers, enemies. Human beings, the Holy One. So it’s important to pause from time to time to stop and ask: “Who touched me?”

In other words, sometimes it’s important to stop for a story.

What happens next? The text tells us that the woman came to Jesus, fell at his feet, and “told him the whole truth.”

Only after telling the whole story (and being fully heard) was the woman sent away in peace.

How do we tell the whole truth and whole story about our lives, our congregations, and our institutions?

This is a query with which we all must wrestle.

Our memory impacts our movement.

How we think back influences how we move forward.

So we ask ourselves:

What stories need retired?

What stories need recovered?

What stories need re-told?