A Story Makes All the Difference

Once Upon a Time

I recently purchased an old harvest/bench table that was hand made in New England in the early 1900’s. Although I was definitely attracted to the table itself, it was the story behind it that captivated me. Laying on the table in the antique mall was a piece of paper that explained when it was made, by whom, and for what purpose. The owner was in her 90’s and needed to move into a retirement home. This table was made by her grandfather, who was a cabinetmaker by trade, and presented to her parents as a house warming present. The table has always been in the family and retains its original finish.

My experience with this table reminds me of some interesting marketing research I recently discovered. When items are auctioned off as simply items, they tend to bring in lower prices. But when the items have a story attached to them, the prices soar and the pieces suddenly become of greater worth.

I’m wondering if the same principle applies to people. When we don’t know someone’s story, it’s easy to dismiss them as having little value, especially if they are different from us. Without knowing their story, it’s easy to brush someone off and make quick judgements. But listening to their story leads to a better understanding of who they are and why they think and act as they do. Even if we disagree with their beliefs and behaviors, we begin to view people with more compassion and empathy. Knowing one’s story adds value to who they are.

Through my own experience with my son, I’m learning the importance of listening to one’s story. When my son told me he was gay, I was devastated. In the past, I have been very judgmental towards the gay community and placed very little value on them as people. But then I heard my son’s story. Listening to him made me realize how much he has struggled with his sexual identity his entire life. Hearing similar stories from parents of other gay and lesbian adult children has caused me to stop and think about the complexities of this issue. Although our belief’s are different, I have become far more compassionate towards him and others who belong to the LGBT community and now see them as people who are just like me – highly valued and loved by God.

My friends, listen to someone’s story today. You don’t have to agree with them to see them as people of great worth. I’m learning that we can love people just as they are, without requiring them to act in certain ways. Hearing their story enables us to do this.

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