Directions: Read the assigned chapters and click on the above tab entitled, “Create Journal Entry,” to journal on the questions below. Your answers should reflect two elements: critical thinking and the integration and personal application of each chapter to your life. Your entire journal entry should be 2 pages per question (4 pages total). (APA format not needed). 1. Allender points out that we are all “a collage of stories” that begin with the stories our families make of us. What are some of the stories you were told, by your own family, about you as a child?2. Allender speaks of a story being an expression of “how and why life changes.” It begins with peace, but that peace is shattered by something that happens to us. Describe a defining event from your life. Who was there? What happened? And how did the event change you?m
our path and our name due to the sto
family of origin.
IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND MOTHER
At birth I was Dan Price, not Dan Allender. My father’s name, Price, most
likely was changed from the German Jewish name Preiss. The name Preiss
likely sounded too Jewish for my relatives, who wished to blend in to their
WASPish world with greater ease. I only had that name for four years, years
that I don’t recall except from the occasional stories I’ve heard from
mother. Seldom do
of us recall the actual events of our own first five
years of life. Every now and then a few hazy images or scenes are unearthed,
but at that age we don’t think in narrative sequence, and therefore we can’t
recall those images as a story.
We simply remember what we are told or what the pictures from our
photo albums tell us. The stories told are freeze frames, and they are family
d not our
myths. They may be true, or they may be the preserved fictions that enable
a family to mark how a son or daughter will fit into the family narrative.
A friend of mine was told from his earliest memory that he was born
and depressed. He was the youngest in a family and had three older
sisters. He was treasured by his sisters, and apparently he became the
in a tug of war between his sisters and his mother. His mother was not fond
could soothe him.
of the girls, who were the delight of their father. The mom therefore
marked her son with the epithet Problem in order to be the only one who
The name he was given—Angry and Depressed-marked him for
of his thirty-two years. He was the moody child. He was artistic and
sensitive, and the only person said to be able to understand him was his
mother. His relationship with his mother has been full of awkward inti-
macy, contempt, and need. He was named by his place in the family story.
We all are.
Families are not always as damaging as this mother was when she
named her son. Her act of violence was likely not conscious and evil but
unwitting and defensive. She was acting out her story, which was set into
motion by her mother and father, whose story was set into motion, of
course, by their families.
Clearly each of us is a collage of stories. Most of those stories are lost
to the telling, and the stories we know are seldom the stories that are most
illuminating, since they often serve to hide or dull the far more revealing
family stories full of heartache and shame. Every family has shame they
wish to hide. In every family, there are unfaithful cousins, wine-bibbing
aunts, eccentric uncles, lazy brothers, gossiping sisters, or not fully repu-
table fathers. At best, stories are told with the benevolence of laughter. If
these stories are questioned, there is a genial hush or a
among those who know that it is best to tell no more.
i condescending look
So we grow up in a sea of stories told in a way that fits what we want
others to know about us. The stories told in most families are a kind
information, as they were for my friend who was wro
rongly named Angry
and Depressed. It took him three decades to see that this name was not true
ing the consequences. So our life is a journey to discover our true name,
propaganda. The tragedy is that often these stories are simply a form of die
to the name he was given by God. But our families name us without know
though, sadly, many of us never choose to begin the search.
Most of us don’t know where we are going or why because we’re too
busy to think about it. For the same reason, most of us have never consid-
ered the themes of our story or pondered the meaning of our name. Doing
so appears a little too esoteric, too self-indulgent, or perhaps a pointless
waste of time.
Studying our story is one of the most difficult tasks of life. How do we
come to hear and name our own name? How do we come to read our own
and also write it? How do we gain a sense of who we are to become
on the basis of what has already happened?
We are embedded in story, yet reading and interpreting story is our
foremost means of finding out the meaning of life. Our story is made up
of countless moments in our life in addition to the stories given to us from
other sources. For the Christian the prime source is the Bible.
This idea that story is important might make sense to us on some theo-
retical level, but it seems impossible to look into our own story to study its
trajectory. Part of the problem is that we don’t want to take the risk. But
the other aspect is that over time all our stories blend together in memory
ture day when our
past shalom will appear in glory at the Day of the Lord. Our willingness
to hold dear the moments of past shalom prepares us to imagine a new
and better day and, even more, to move toward that day with passion and
Shalom is shattered by sin, by the intrusion of a lie, a distortion of the truth
that mars the pleasure of being naked, transparent, trusting, and true.
Shalom is not shattered merely by the presence of something ‘not good”
because, in the Garden of Eden, God said that it was “not good” for man
to be alone. Apparently, God wanted Adam to know loneliness and absence
in order to enter the glory of presence and companionship. Mere absence
is not tragedy, nor is our shalom shattered when we experience loneliness.
Instead, shattering occurs when our dignity is assaulted and death enters to
divide and destroy.
Consider the so-called innocent teasing of childhood. A
gathers around a timid classmate who is overweight: “Fatty pants, fatty
pants, you’re a big blubber butt!” Such words attack the most tender and
raw part of the child’s being. Such words shatter shalom as sin severs trust
grows shame like
shame like a cancer. The result of the shattering is death. In
every story, in every life, there are moments of death that take away our
name and rename us as strangers, orphans, or widows.
At the moment of being unnamed, we are thrown into our story. We
lose the name Friend and are given the name
t of being unnamed is a mild fluctuation between good and
e Reject. Our story prior to the
may be a boring or rather empty story, but at least it’s safe. Then tragesta
enters the garden, and we are forever changed as we are cast from the sweet
protection of shalom. From that point we embark on a journey that offers
only intermittent moments of rest. Our life is anything but mild, anything
went to find his brothers. Apparently, he wasn’t used to being out in the
relatively happy until he
rough-and-tumble world, but for some reason he was allowed to travel. His
short trip became the starting point of a long and agonizing journey to an
Joseph’s life followed this pattern. He was
inhospitable foreign land.
Obviously shalom had been shattered long before this event, because
Joseph’s brothers already hated him. But once the opportunity arose for
them to punish him, Joseph’s life journey truly began. Tragedy always
moves our story forward in a way that shalom could never accomplish.
Joseph’s encounter with tragedy removed him from his father’s benevo-
lent provision. He went from Most Likely to Succeed into shackled slavery.
Such a reversal of fortune, the shattering of shalom, takes away our iden-
tity, reverses our expectations, and steals from us the security of our name.
No longer was Joseph Favored Son. He was now Powerless Slave.
Listen to your own memory of times when you were unnamed or
destabilized by a shattering experience. Some moments are monstrous,
such as death-dealing incidents of sexual abuse. Or these moments can be
as subde and common as being mocked on a playground. In either case,
the shattering moves us from a place of shalom to a place that is harsh and
unrelenting. The shattering brings us a keen awareness that we are alone
and in danger. We are on our own.
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