Living Out the Best Narrative

We’ve been talking, as a church, about the narrative we are creating right now, the story of “Live Oak During the Pandemic.” Stories are powerful things. In the book Systemic Interventions for Collective and National Trauma, researcher Michal Shamai looked at the groups who survived a trauma and discovered a continuum for how they did.  At one end were the groups that did not have the necessary resources to cope. In the middle were the communities that coped well with the traumatic event, but the narrative they created was about this being a painful part of their story.

The communities that thrived, long-term, were the ones who both had the resources and “constructed a narrative that emphasizes resiliency.”

We see this in families, too. The families that do best are the ones who are able to cope with the trauma as it’s happening, and then have a story to tell that features their creativity, their strength, and their love for one another. My 24 year old son and I got to talking recently about living through Hurricane Ike, and the 3 weeks without power. We laughed about “baking” cookies on our barbecue grill, reading books out loud, and playing board games.

These days are tough. Parents of children, I know there are nights when you just want to run away from home. And all of us, whether we are living alone, with multiple people, or just one other, have days of loneliness, feeling overwhelmed, feeling hopeless. Being irritated at the least little thing.

But when we look back, I predict that overall, we’ll remember the good. We’ll remember talking by phone or zoom with friends, creating music or crafts, finding new ways to do our jobs, and new routines. I hope that in your story, there are funny memories, and things that you are proud of. A narrative that emphasizes resiliency. And if there aren’t enough things in your narrative to make what is, to you, a satisfactory story — you’ve still got time! Part of constructing a narrative is by taking the actions we’ll want to remember.