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Do you think of God as a storyteller? Consider this

Pais lendo com a filha - Yuri A | Shutterstock

Daniel Esparza - published on 03/13/24

We are the stories we tell ourselves. By carefully choosing the stories we share with our children, we shape the narratives of their lives.

My three-year-old daughter has suddenly become a fan of story time — to the point that she now thinks of the discount store as a kind of public library. Whenever we walk by the book section, she says, “Daddy, read me this one,” “Daddy, now this other one,” “How about this one?” After we leave, she starts asking me for more random stories: “Tell me about when I was little, and we had a mango and the mango fell and I picked it up and you ate it.”

Of course, bedtime is also about storytelling: one, two, three stories before she finally falls asleep. And then the next day, it starts all over again. Yes, it is a lot of work – but also a lot of fun.

Storytelling is central to faith

Now, from the earliest tales whispered by firelight to the great narratives of Scripture, stories have always held a special place in the Catholic tradition. It is not an exaggeration to say that storytelling is at the very core of Catholicism. The importance of the narratives we inherited from our forefathers in the faith goes far beyond mere entertainment or instruction. The stories we share with our children, both sacred and secular, become the building blocks of their faith and character.

It is no wonder we are all so fond of storytelling. Scripture claims that we are made in the image and likeness of God, and God himself is a storyteller. The Bible is a collection of stories, not just a theological treatise. From the first breath of creation to the promise of a new heaven and a new earth, we are told stories through which we discover God’s love, justice, and mercy. We see his relationship with humankind unfold.

But stories are more than chronicles. The stories we expose ourselves to eventually shape us. St. Augustine famously said that “we are what we love, and what we love shapes who we are.” Stories plant seeds in our hearts. They show us courage, kindness, and forgiveness in action. They allow us to see the world through different eyes, fostering empathy and compassion. As parents, the stories we choose can become powerful tools for faith formation.

Valuable lessons

Reading about saints like St. Francis of Assisi exposes children to beauty, humility, compassion, and care for our common home. Fairy tales, with their fantastical elements, can teach valuable lessons about good and evil, perseverance, and the importance of keeping promises.

However, stories are not just passive entertainment. Reading aloud allows for discussion and reflection. I am starting to ask my daughter new questions: “What did you like about this story?” “Who was your favorite character and why?” “How did the story make you feel?” “Why do you want to read that one again?” These conversations open doors to exploring deeper truths about faith, morality, and the human condition.

Remember, we are the stories we tell ourselves. By carefully choosing the stories we share with our children (and by letting them choose their own) we shape the narratives of their lives. With each story, we can plant seeds of faith, love, and virtue. 

So, open a book, gather your children close, and take a journey together. You may be surprised at the impact these stories have on their hearts and minds.

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