Whilst people maybe suspicious of dominant narratives, stories that seek to explain the meaning of life for everyone, we instinctively live by stories. There are dominant narratives in our lives, in our imagination, beliefs, values, inner voices and dialogues, childhood experiences, that are the reality we live by.
My Nan always tells me to put myself first because no-one else will! She means well, but it’s a not a story I want to live by. I got to thinking about where we hear expressed the narratives that dominate how we really live and order our lives. One place they seem to come out into the open are when we get together to eat meals and socialise. Looking back over the conversations I hear, and have, there seem to be a few stories we tell in the west.
1. Busy: we are all so busy, and justify our existence by being busy and letting others know how busy we are. We order our lives, the space we have for mission around this story, certainly in London.
2. Tired: Hot on the heals of being busy, is being tired. Is there anyone who isn’t tired and busy, because if there is we are suspicious of them. We invest so often with what we have left over from being tired and busy, and wonder we have so little to give.
3. Passing Through: Almost everyone I meet is passing through. The place they live is just a place until they get to the place they really want to live, usually the seaside, or Australia, just anywhere that isn’t where they are. What is the cost of not seeing ourselves as located in the communities we live in? No wonder we find it so hard to connect to our local communities, when we are ordering our lives around the telos of where we will be one day, rather than where we are now.
And any one seeking to do life together, mission in community, locally, faces these dominant stories that we order our lives around. How does the Gospel engage and challenge this monolithic stories, and set us free to live by a different story, and identity? And what are the stories that we order our lives around that you hear?