Telling stories is not just a way of passing time. It is the way the wisdom gets passed along. The stuff that helps us to live a life worth remembering.  —Rachel Naomi Remen

W hen confronted with a challenging situation in our house, we often use the expression “at least it will make a good story” to remind ourselves that we are called to find the bright side of our difficulties and sometimes, that bright side is simply a good story to share another day. For example, my wife, Sally, and I once had a car die on the interstate in downtown Indianapolis. This was long before cell phones and we found ourselves trekking through some interesting neighborhoods trying to find a phone. Every turn was a risky bit of adventure and now, with time, the adventure seems more and more grand. When all was said and done, it was a good story. We managed through the situation, no major harm was done, and we added an interesting memory to our collection.

This week-end, I was reminded of this expression as I watched my daughter and son-in-law experience the joys and challenges of childbirth. It was a very good story with a wonderfully happy ending. Or should I say, beginning? Over a few days, they have intimately experienced the incredibly rewarding pains and joys that accompany the birth of another human being. As we watched the highs and lows of this process, we witnessed many “good stories” formed throughout and I couldn’t help but whisper to myself numerous times: “this will make a good story.” Something worth remembering, and sharing, for a lifetime.

“this will make a good story”

Our days are full of these opportunities. Stories that become the fabric of our lives. They don’t always have the happiest of endings but they always take us to the places we are supposed to be. In our home, Sally is the story-teller. In particular, she loves to regale us with tales of family members past. She is blessed with a memory for the details and a love for the history. Over the years, I’ve discovered that her story-telling has fostered the legends, cautionary tales, and understanding that give depth and breadth to our own story. She has made much of the past real for many in the present.

As time has gone on, many of her stories have evolved from family members long gone to our shared experiences over the last 30 years. These reference points, now very familiar to our children, create a common ground for the present; a shared language of inside jokes, life changing missteps, and family triumphs. Some of the stories even include items or places in our daily lives: dishes, clothing, furniture, pets, rooms in the house, or vacation spots – each with its own tale. Collectively, they form a foundation and show a pathway; all leading us to where we stand today.

We all know the stories are not always joyful. Along the way, you will also collect stories that are painful. Memories you’d like to forget. Those too are part of it all, part of who you are. Living through those moments also leads to good stories: stories of survival, stories of forgiveness, stories of atonement, stories of discovery. This is your life; there is no story more interesting and you are gifted with the opportunity to live it.

This is your life; there is no story more interesting and you are gifted with the opportunity to live it.

Today, go forward and seek “good stories.” When you find one that you’d rather forget, remember that there is a good story waiting just down the road. See the value in the big and little things you encounter along the way knowing that they all contribute to your story. Then keep them real, and alive, by sharing them with others. These are the legends and the lessons that make life interesting. These are the good stories.