Follow the Pattern of Sound Words: Truth in Storytelling

Fair warning here: This post will be a bit random because sometimes that’s just the way my brain works. (I apologize in advance for the number of words I’m piling on you today.)

In the previous post on “story” I mentioned this fact — telling our stories may change us as much or more than those who hear them. We considered WHEN and WHERE to tell our life stories and I promised to share a few tips on blogging and self-publishing today. I’ll do that in a future post, but there are a couple other things I feel compelled to share today.

In studying Second Timothy alongside Beth Moore (Entrusted) and a women’s study group in my church, I was struck by this passage:

 Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 1:13

Paul, in a letter he dictated while in prison, to be sent to his ministry partner Timothy, encourages Timothy to be faithful to the words he has heard from Paul.

…..the pattern of sound words…..

This instruction from Paul to Timothy is also for us. It reminds me that as we capture our life stories and share them with others, our words must also be sound — grounded in the truth of our testimony as followers of Christ. Beth Moore says this:

“The church cannot be healthy without holding tightly to God’s Word and to sound doctrine.”

You and I are “the church”.

Whether we share our life stories in church or over coffee with a friend, in a blog post, on Facebook or in a book, we hold in the palm of our hands the hearer’s understanding of who God is to us and who He can be to them.

Whether we share our life stories in church or over coffee with a friend, in a blog post, on Facebook or in a book, we hold in the palm of our hands the hearer's understanding of who God is to us and who He can be to them. Share on X

Does that make you hesitant to tell your life stories? I hope not. The world needs your stories. Pray that God will lead you and give you discernment, and continue studying God’s sound, healthy words in scripture so that you may be approved.

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”

2 Timothy 2:13-15


The Lord has my feet firmly planted in the role of “student” and the stack of books I’m wading through over the next couple of months attests to my obedience, and my desire to learn. One that isn’t on that stack of fresh, new books is what I’m currently reading, a used copy of John Steinbeck’s The Winter of Our Discontent (along with three or four other books).

Steinbeck, a declared agnostic, is one of my favorite storytellers. Reading East of Eden last winter fed my soul in ways only really good, honest fiction can. The story is filled with biblical references. Despite his faith declaration, Steinbeck’s Episcopal upbringing left fingerprints all over his writings. In fact, Steinbeck’s widow claims the author “had a spiritual streak that never left.” I’m sharing with you a story from Winter that is a inspired by a true life experience, a “slice of life” that shaped how he told stories. Perhaps it will inspire you to write down a few of your childhood memories.

There’s something very dear about a church you grew up in. I know every secret corner, secret odor of St. Thomas’s. . . . I must have been deeply printed with the sacredness because I remember every desecration, and there were plenty of them. I think I can go to every place where my initials are scratched with a nail. When Danny Taylor and I punched the letters of a singularly dirty word with a pin in the Book of Common Prayer, Mr. Wheeler caught us and we were punished, but they had to go through all the prayerbooks and the hymnals to make sure there weren’t more. Once, in that chair stall under the lectern, a dreadful thing happened. I wore the lace and carried the cross and sang a beefy soprano. Once the bishop was officiating, a nice old man, hairless as a boiled onion, but to me glowing with rays of holiness. So it was that, stunned with inspiration, I set the cross in its socket at the end of processional and forgot to throw the brass latch that held it in. At the reading of the second lesson I saw with horror the heavy brass cross sway and crash on that holy hairless head. The bishop went down like a pole-axed cow and I lost the lace to a boy who couldn’t sing as well, a boy named Skunkfoot Hill. (Winter 112–13)

I’ll leave you with this quote from a letter Steinbeck wrote to a friend (included in his book Steinbeck: A Life in Letters), copied into my own Commonplace Book. May you also “spread a page with shining”, always “holding tightly to God’s word and to sound doctrine”, and may your faith journey leave fingerprints all over the stories you tell.

Tomorrow: A guest post from my friend, author Jill Kandel. You won’t want to miss this!




Life stories knit us together, whether to family or to others who just need to know they are not alone. In these 31 days of October, I’ll be exploring the importance of STORY. You can read all 31 days by following the links under “31 Days of Story”. And, you can read blogs from other writers taking the #Write31Days challenge by visiting the website here.

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