Tell a Counter-Story Today!

November 6, 2023

Do you like to listen to stories? Do you like to tell stories? Why Are Stories Important? Stories are central to human communication. We engage with others through stories. As human beings, we are automatically drawn to stories because we see ourselves reflected in them. Have you ever noticed that when someone is telling a story it triggers your personal counter-story? This counter-story is the way you connect to the story teller. It is why it is so much fun to sit around with friends and share stories. Someone always has a counter-story to tell, and the stories go in lots of fun directions as we learn about the people we are with.

In our fast-paced, text message, email, social media age, do stories really matter to us anymore? They probably matter more than ever because our brief messages have little content that is emotional, spiritual, or intellectual.

Stories not only help us know the people around us better, they help us know ourselves better. We can learn about ourselves by the counter-stories we remember and desire to tell others. The first story that came to my mind today that I would tell others was a scene in Canada, standing on the edge of a fifty-five-foot cliff with my High Adventure Scout crew, which included my son. Our canoe base guide had brought us this way because he wanted to jump off the cliff into the deep dark water below.

While standing there filled with terror, I decided I would not jump unless my son did. I knew he wouldn’t. But then, one by one, the most unlikely thing happened, all the boys lined up to jump. When my son jumped I thought, “Do it quick, get it over with, or you will never do it.” Fifty-five feet is a long way to jump into the water. When my son jumped, the water pressure popped all the pimples of his teenage face, and little rivulets of blood were running down his cheeks. When I jumped I forgot to look up while I was watching the water. It blew a contact lens out of one eye and blackened the other. All those boys earned their Eagle scout, and all those boys love to talk about that moment in their lives.

I think that story came to my mind first because it defines so many things about me that are meaningful in my life: a great moment with my son, my love for being a scoutmaster and helping boys become men, and my adventurous spirit. Even though my cliff jumping days are over, I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

Stories are also extremely important to our faith. Most people like the stories of the Bible the best. Jesus told parables, simple stories to teach about complex and complicated things like the Kingdom of Heaven, God’s love, and how to have great faith. Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection have often been called, “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” In the Old Testament, everything about being Jewish revolves around the story of the Exodus from Egypt. This is the story of God taking slave people and liberating them to become His chosen people. It is a great story. When was the last time you watched the movie “The Ten Commandments”?

I ask again, think of a story you would tell others to help them know you? Do you have a favorite faith story that would teach people about what you believe? I have many of them and love to tell them every chance I get to try to help others remember their faith counter-stories. Another story that came to mind today was at a Men’s Conference in Pittsburgh, and the preacher challenged us to be a first-generation believer. By that he meant that the second-generation believers, those whose parents are believers, often live off their parent’s miracles. The third-generation believers are weak and lazy believers whose parent’s have no miracles and they don’t care about their grandparent’s miracles. They want to see their parent’s miracles. I felt challenged because I was living off my Dad’s miracles and had none of my own. I declared that day to God that I wanted Him to make me a first-generation believer. Since then, that is what I have become, and God has given me lots of miracles.

What is a story you would tell others to help them know you? Do you have a favorite faith story that would teach people about what you believe? Can you tell those stories to others? Maybe at the dinner table tonight? With your spouse? With your kids? With a friend? Be careful, you may become known as quite a story teller. (To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles see,