I write and speak for a living. Sometimes it is my own story that I communicate while many times it is the stories of others – of friends, Biblical characters, interesting people past and present. It is honestly a fun way to spend my time and I enjoy what I do.
But every job hits a wall and I recently retreated from my own life to the wonderful countries of England and Ireland. During my two weeks there, I found myself writing and reflecting about my own job and my role as a storyteller. I began to think about the health of a storyteller and what I am finding to be true. Here’s part of what made its way into my journal:
“I’m reading in a cafe. NLA. No Laptop Allowed. This is nice. I’ve watched four movies in four days. I’ve spoken with total strangers and made new friends. Other people’s stories. It’s nice to step into them. I need to step into them. After all I am a storyteller by trade and my own story isn’t nearly enough to propel the heart of a storyteller.
“I’m learning that the health of a storyteller is directly tied to his or her (in)ability to move both inward and outward. To move inward is to move into my own desires, motives and behaviors enough to understand them. It’s asking the Spirit to search the heart and then actually opening the heart up instead of leaving the door secretly closed at the same time (which is my normal routine).
“To move inward is also allowing the deeply seeded dreams to bloom, to tap into the river flowing underground. It’s as if the world of ‘Me’ was already created with fossils under the surface, waiting for the external busy archaeologist to actually start digging.
“The move outward means for me to step into the lives of others, to become unselfish and find beauty and whole-ness in the community I have been blessed with. It is spending time with my wife, my family, my neighbors and finding their story as interesting as my own. It is also helping them to find their story as we share life together.
“Balance is needed for both and I usually move too far in one direction or the other, later wondering why I am feeling so disjointed. I hope I can return with a fresh sense of the importance of each and make the proper time to live in both worlds.”
Matt Conner is a freelance writer and music journalist. As the founding pastor of The Mercy House, he led a church community for more than six years in intense community development across racial and socio-economic lines. As a writer, he’s interviewed thousands of musicians for multiple print and web-based publications.