Speak: On Stories and World-Changing

speak3_final How would your life be different if you shared your stories? …Nish Weiseth exhorts Christians to follow Jesus’ example by using story as a vehicle for change…Speak is a call for grace, openness, and vulnerability. [She] encourages those in the body of Christ to know their own stories of transformation and redemption and to use those stories as a catalyst for change. (From the backcover of Speak: How Your Story Can Change the World)

Utah wedding and portrait photographyI “met” friend Nish Weiseth around a year ago when Sarah Bessey, one of the editors and author of Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible’s View of Women, (shockingly) asked me to be a regular contributor to Deeper Story. What I’ve loved the most about being a part of the Deeper Story collective of writers was the access to a venue where I was encouraged to share the stories closest to my life and it never explicitly had to concern faith. And not just any stories, not pretty stories, not happy-ending or happily-ever-after stories, not even complete stories but snippets of our lives that revealed thin places, where the divine and human intersect in genuine and meaningful ways. All our stories were and are so different but there are so many wonderful ways we overlap, too.

It’s also a privilege to find one of my stories in her book, a blog I wrote called – Beyond Black and White: Yellow Fever and Letting Go of Shame.

Yellow Fever: 1. An infectuous tropical disease carried by mosquitoes. 2. A term usually applied to white males who have a clear sexual preference for women of Asian descent. [From Urban Dictionary]

3. Feeling shame about one”s asianness. (My definition)

I wrote about being “yellow,” being Asian, being Korean feeling like a disease and an illness and so it was yellow fever because I felt shame for this sickness – my skin color and cultural heritage. It was perhaps one of the few times I felt empowered to speak of experiences I’ve kept so close to my heart – stories about shame and racism within the church, and since then I continue to feel more and more compelled to speak out like through another blog called Faith Feminisms.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. -MLK Jr.

I had been asleep, maybe dead for awhile, until I began to speak about God – to speak about faith and church, my family, and about racism and sexism. I spoke about my life, and I didn’t need to qualify it or explain it, defend it or have someone else affirm it. And speaking brought logos-life to my bones, and the resurrection somehow meant more when I saw that God was not man or a white man but someone who shared in my humanity right down to the core of my struggles. God became possibility, the ground of all being, חסד (the Hebrew word hesed – “steadfast love,”  “kindness,” “loving-kindness,” “mercy,” “loyalty”), continuous and constant presence, Wisdom and grace, giver of life, flesh-and-blood passion and love, and beyond-words.

I love Nish’s book for its direct and honest call to all of humanity to delve into stories as a way to transform individuals, communities, and the world. We don’t need more dogma or doctrine, more programs or prescriptives, more agendas or answers. We need stories. And it’s not just about us telling our own stories but about providing space for others’ to tell their stories, too.

Definitely, give her book a chance and check out Deeper Story for people who are passionate about the work of telling the stories of our lives.

When reaching out with our hands, resources, an dlove to those in need, may we always look into their faces and listen to their stories. Even though it can seem like the voices of those on the margins have been silenced…they have stories, lives, and experiences, too…it’s our job to simple be a microphone, offering our volume, influence, and privilege for the sake of those who need it most…May we be the hands and feet of Christ as we sit and listen and tell the stories of the least of these. -NW

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