Humans are story-shaped creatures.

Jennifer L. Holberg, Nourishing Narratives

Listen to Our Conversations

The Power of Story to Shape Our Faith

We live in a world saturated with narratives. From the books we read to the movies we watch, from the stories we hear to the tales we tell, narratives have the power to shape our lives and beliefs.

In today’s episode of “Today’s Heartlift with Janell,” I talk with Jennifer L. Holberg, author of the book “Nourishing Narratives: The Power of Story to Shape Our Faith.” Jennifer and I had so much fun exploring the profound impact narratives have on our understanding of ourselves, others, and the world around us.

I loved how Jennifer shared beautiful memories of her grandmother’s house, filled to the brim with books of all kinds. These visits exposed her to a diverse range of stories, from Victorian literature to cookery books.

Jennifer’s family also had a tradition of communal novel and Bible reading, emphasizing the importance of narratives in their lives. This upbringing instilled in her the belief that stories have a more profound influence on our lives than mere facts.

In a thought-provoking discussion, Jennifer encouraged us to examine the narratives we carry within our minds:

Are these narratives nourishing or toxic?

Do they uplift us and bring hope, or do they perpetuate negativity and fear?

By critically analyzing the stories we tell ourselves, we can take control of our thinking and reshape our beliefs for the better.

The power of narratives becomes even more evident when we face tragedy and challenges. Jennifer highlighted the frustration she feels with simplistic religious explanations for tragedy and advocates for humility in discussing God’s will. She urges listeners to pay attention to narrative models that promote humility rather than self-congratulation.

By embracing stories of grief, loss, and lament while still maintaining hope, we can find solace and resilience in difficult times.

I most loved Jennifer’s emphasis on storytelling as a force for good.

She delved into the impact of narratives on society and the importance of engaging with people who hold different political views and ultimately, we are to find common ground as believers in Jesus.

Stories have the power to bridge divides, heal wounds, and foster empathy, making storytelling a vital tool for Christian work in the world.

Jennifer also highlighted the need to listen to and understand the narratives of younger generations. As a baby boomer myself, I acknowledged my own generation’s struggle to fully grasp why millennials, Gen Z, and Alphas engage with the world and the church differently. Jennifer, drawing on her extensive experience working with younger people, stresses the importance of actively listening to their stories and motivations.

As the episode comes to a close, it becomes clear that story is an essential part of our lives. It has the power to shape our beliefs, ignite our imagination, and influence our responses to both joy and tragedy. By examining and nurturing the narratives we consume and share, we can create a world that is more compassionate, empathetic, and understanding.

Let us embrace the power of story, for it is through storytelling that we can find connection, strength, and profound transformation.

This week’s podcast prompts:

Here you go:

  • Jennifer had two profound influencers in her early life that propelled her to understand both the power of reading and the power of story, her 5th-grade teacher, Mrs. Ash, and her grandmother. Who influenced your love for reading and language?
  • How can we begin implementing “the love of story” into our relationships?
  • What are you reading, right now, that is bringing you joy?
  • Do you have a favorite childhood memory of reading? And, what is your favorite childhood book?

Meet me on Instagram: @janellrardon and comment on my posts concerning our conversation.

Janell Rardon Author

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