The Power of Story

When our children were much younger, the grocery store in our town went through a major renovation. The store was beautiful when it was done, and the parent company wanted to advertise the new look. The chain had a spokesman who appeared in all their commercials back then – one of those friendly, helpful, cheerful guys you’d love to have for your next door neighbor. So, of course, he had to be part of the grand re-opening of this store in our small town.

Except he wasn’t there in person.

He was a giant cutout on the roof of the building. And he moved.

As I sat in our van in the parking lot one night with our four children, waiting for my husband as he dashed into the store for something, that giant face appeared over the edge of the building. And disappeared. And appeared again.

My younger boys – ages two and three – were frightened to the point of tears.

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“Who is that, Mommy?”

“Where did he go?”

“Will he come down here?”

By the time we got home, they were in a state of panic. No explanation about pictures with machines to make them move would satisfy them. That man was a monster who was going to come down off the roof of the grocery store, and THEN what would we do?

That’s how the stories began.

Every night I told the boys the same story. It was about the “up-down boy” (that’s what they called him). He couldn’t go up and down anymore because the machine was broken and needed to be repaired. The store manager called Batman to save the day, but Batman couldn’t fix the problem by himself, so he asked Benjamin and Michael to help him.

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In the story, the boys went up on the roof with Batman and helped him fix the machine that made the up-down boy move, saving the day. They were heroes.

I told that story every night for months after the up-down boy had moved on to another store opening. The boys were even disappointed when he left – a big change from their fear the first time they saw him.

That experience brought home the fact that stories have power. They have power to heal emotions, to inspire, to encourage. They have the power to help little boys understand that a cardboard cutout isn’t alive. The power to turn frightened children into heroes.

Do your stories have that power? Do they inspire your readers? Point them to the Truth? Encourage them to do great things for Christ?

We writers have been given a gift. Our gratitude for that gift inspires us to use it for Him.

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