Significance of Story
with Darby Strickland
Ann Maree: Hello and welcome to the Safe to Hope podcast. My name is Ann Maree and I'm the executive director for HelpHer and the host of this podcast. On the Safe to Hope. Hope Renewed in Light of Eternity podcast, we help women tell their story with an eye for God's redemptive purposes. All suffering is loss, but God leaves nothing unused in His plans.
We want to help women see His redemptive thread throughout their circumstances, and then look for opportunities to join with God in His transformational work.
I'd like to welcome again, Darby Strickland as we continue our discussion on the Safe to Hope podcast series about storytelling. In episodes one and two, we discussed the importance of storytelling in one another care and the language we used. In episode three, Darby expressed God's heart for victims as He invites them into Scripture. An invitation into His word. She also helpfully talked about navigating a situation when someone has been the recipient of a misuse of Scripture. How to gently guide them back to hearing God's word. If you haven't had the chance to listen to episodes one through three, I highly recommend listening to Darby and gleaning from her wisdom and compassion for the word and for people.
Today Darby shares how important our humility is in responding to a victim's story, including asking good feedback questions and building relationship at the right pace for them. I'm really looking forward to how she's going to help us learn how to store the stories well and whole person care.
So in, in terms of landmines, talk about the importance of how we, you and I or the helpers respond to somebody when they do share their story.
Darby: Yeah, I think several things that are important. Probably what's important for me to highlight… initially, as you wanna invite feedback from that person. So when someone's sharing a story, we know that we're gonna make mistakes. You know, we, the affect in our face might not be correct. We might interject at the wrong moment, cutting off an important detail.
We might choose to close in prayer. That feels like a rebuke, right? And so, one thing I wanna be careful to do is develop a relationship with someone that they can say to me, ‘Ouch, that hurts’, right. ‘You, you stepped on something there’, or ‘I don't think you quite understood me’, and that's really delicate, but I think that's really important. Like I wanna be able to be talking to someone and them say, just stop me and say, ‘don't say that verse, that's the verse that my junior high youth leader screamed at me’, right. And so I think that's an important aspect of how we carry ourselves with, with victims and the relationship that we're forming is that I often will say, ‘yeah, are you confused by anything I said? Did anything hurt you? What did I miss?’ I, I wanna know how my person is impacting your person. We're probably the first people in their world that are giving them the permission, and then we need to affirm that when they tell us that we need to say, ‘thank you’. We don't need to defend ourselves or say, you're wrong. I didn't intend. Right. We just wanna say thank you. I, I wouldn't wanna impact you in that way, and I so appreciate, and I'm gonna be careful with whatever. So I think part of it is any relationship, we don't know them well. They don't know us well. . And so part of helping them tell their story is for them to be able to give us feedback in a way that they do feel - I don't wanna use the word ‘safe’, - but that we are a place of refuge for them.
Ann Maree: Yeah. It's hard not to say ‘safe’ people and, mm-hmm. . Yeah. It's, there is a component there of, of caregiving that we really do need to be careful with. Care…careful. Darby: I think the other thing is just like the pace at which we care for people or ask stories or the level of details. Sometimes, you know, we're naive and we think, we want them to help tell their whole story, and so we're asking questions that we don't really have the level of relationship for them to really share that level of detail with us. So when I'm working with someone before there's trust and they, they understand how I'm going to care for them, they sometimes wanna tell me their whole story or I become curious about aspects of their story. But now they've shared with me things they've never shared with anyone, and they don't ever wanna see my face again. Mm-hmm. , right? Yeah. And so part of our jobs is to steward their hearts really well and to proceed at a pace so that they don't feel shame, so that they know that they are loved and cared for and accepted and not rejected by us. And that again, that we - even just calling details to mind - that when they go home, they're gonna have a panic attack or not be able to sleep for a week. So we have to be really good stewards of their story by recognizing, sharing their story has an impact on them. And it impacts our relationship, but it also impacts how they are gonna move throughout their world after exposing it.
Ann Maree: And that's another piece that's just really good. I think what I was gonna say before, before I finish that thought - you don't think, and I could be wrong, and I haven't really done a lot of research on this, - but as counselors, I don't think that we're ever called, and I mean counselors in the sense of one another care, I don't think we're ever called to help somebody change their perspective. That's, that's not our, I mean, there's a renewing of the mind, but it isn't necessarily, that perspective is wrong. There's a different perspective to what really happened. And we're not, we're not called to that space. So I feel like that's a really important piece too, when you're hearing somebody else's story.
Darby: And what you're saying there is you don't wanna reinterpret their story for them without understanding more of them. Is that what you’re…
Ann Maree: Yes, absolutely. Yeah.
Darby: Because we're often tempted to jump in and, minimize. Right. Conceptualize. Right. We do that in parenting all the time.
Ann Maree: I know, right?
Darby: It's so natural for us, right? Mm-hmm. . And so we really have to, I think the vision you're wanting to paint for people is extracting jewels from people of these treasures and, and their horrors, really. But if we look at them as treasures, we're very careful with how we carry these details, and we wanna know their value and all their facets before we go to do something with them.
Ann Maree: And then that last piece of what you said is part of the reason in that they aren't just experiencing that story in a you know, very upper-level-head way they experience those same even emotions, even physical manifestations in their body when they're with you, but also when they walk away. So the importance of caregiving and careful care, in listening to their story and how we respond to it also relates to the whole person, - not just you know, their, like I said, their cognitive ability to tell you a story. Yeah, I, I don't think we take the whole person into consideration as much in counseling. Of course, we're not doctors, so we, we don't think about that, but God relates to us as whole people. So we need to also be very careful to do that with our, with our counselees.
Darby: No, we are embodied souls and we as thinkers often are thinking about the content and not of the story and not the context of the person. And it's easy because the stories are, you know, they are captivating and so we can get fixated on the content and forget the pastoral care, you know, little p little c of the person.
Ann Maree: This really has been so helpful to understand. This episode has been an encouragement for building relationship in storytelling for the purpose of pastoral care.
We don't speak into a vacuum. Those we help struggle with multiple layers of difficulty, both in what we refer to as the inner and outer person, and we need to be mindful of caring for that whole person. Next time Darby and I will wrap up this series by looking forward to our hope and specific passages for guiding our thoughts toward that certainty.
You can learn more about Darby's books and find a link to purchase in our show notes. For women wondering if what you are experiencing is domestic abuse, Darby’s book, Is It Abuse? is incredibly helpful. Those who minister in the church will also find her work beneficial.
Safe to Hope is a production of HelpHer. Our Executive Producer is Ann Maree Goudzwaard. Safe to Hope is written and mixed by Ann Maree and edited by Ann Maree and Helen Weigt. Music is Waterfall and is licensed by Pixabay. We hope you enjoyed this episode in the Safe To Hope podcast series.
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