There has never been a time before stories. And there will never be a time after, for all of life is a story. The chapters change and the pages increase in number and spine becomes bent and cracked with age. But there is never after. It always is.
However, there was a time when I didn't know what stories meant to me.
Children who love books usually know they love books, but they don't know the power held in them--we can't all be Matilda Wormwood. Children who love books will cart them to and from the library in large stacks. They will have trouble on library day at school, because they can only check out two books at a time. They will sneak peeks into their parents' bookshelves and steal glances at books they're not mature enough to read. They will do all these things and find thrill in every moment without ever realizing that their love for books is actually a love of story, which is more than a hobby or pastime--it's the adventure of a lifetime.
This sort of adventurous love for story is a compulsion, a conviction, a belief. It is the belief that for every question the answer is a story. Every sorrow comforted, every wound healed, every mistake forgiven, and every joy affirmed by a story. Jesus himself used stories to express his love for people and carry out his mission. The Bible itself is a story of epic measurements.
And so we have this belief as children without knowing it, until one day we do. We know it. We feel it. We believe it.
During the year I decided I wanted to be a writer, I also realized how deeply I loved books. But even then it wasn't until later that I understood it was a love of story that really fueled my love for writing. And there was a difference in everything. My thinking change, my writing changed, my heart changed. The world looks different when you comprehend its story-ness.
Yesterday I was thankful for the stories of my childhood. Today I am thankful for the stories after childhood. I am thankful for the transformative power of a story, for the way they alter my way of thinking and the way I perceive the world. I am thankful for the depth added to books when we recognize a good story, and not just a plot or characters that are "interesting." I am thankful for the way stories engage us at every turn. I am thankful for the way stories allow us to connect with each other, regardless of the people we have been or the people we are or will be. I am thankful that stories follow us and shape us. I am thankful that stories can be uniters and changers and inspirers and convicters. I am thankful for the way faith in Jesus is so naturally shared by story. Most of all, I am thankful for who stories have made me--before I knew they were changing me, and after.
Thanks, stories. You're incredible.