Some stories impart far more than just facts

Jesus often used stories or parables to teach lessons about the deeper aspect of life. It’s a good teaching tool because it addresses the right side of our brain – the creative side.

Recalling a narrative is often easier than remembering logical explanations. A good story can be fictional or based in reality. It doesn’t matter. It’s the moral or lesson of the story that is so important.

Sometimes we can miss the point of the story if we try to take it literally. Take the example of the story of the prophet Jonah.

If you ask the average person, “What is the moral or lesson in the Book of Jonah?” they would probably reply that God helped Jonah survived for three days in the belly of a whale.

Actually, the fish has very little to do with the whole teaching. The story is about God’s love and mercy for all peoples, even the traditional enemies of the Jews, the Assyrians. God sends Jonah to preach repentance to the citizens of Nineveh, the Assyrian capital. He tries to escape by getting on a ship going in the opposite direction.

When the crew discovers that it’s Jonah’s fault that they are perishing, they throw him into the sea. The fish is the vehicle that brings Jonah to the shores on Nineveh. He reluctantly delivers God’s message and is disappointed when the people of Nineveh turn to God and repent.

The lesson we should take from this story is that God’s love and mercy extend to all people, even those we might not like.

A reader sent me a modern story titled “Burnt Biscuits.” I hope you enjoy it.

When I was a little boy, my mom liked to make breakfast food for dinner now and then. I remember one night in particular when she had made breakfast after a long, hard day at work. That particular evening, my mom placed a plate of eggs, sausage and extremely burned biscuits in front of my dad.

I remember waiting to see if anyone noticed. All my dad did was reach for his biscuit, smile at my mom and ask me how my day was at school. I forget what I told him that night, but I do remember watching him smear butter and jelly on that biscuit and eating every bite.

When I got up from the table that evening, I remember hearing my mom apologize to my dad for burning the biscuits. I’ll never forget what he said: “Baby, I love burned biscuits.”

Later that night, I went to hug Daddy good night and asked him if he really liked his biscuits burned. He wrapped me in his arms and said, “Your Momma put in a hard day at work today and she’s really tired. Besides, a little burnt biscuit never hurt anyone!”

Life is full of imperfect things and imperfect people. What I’ve learned over the years is that accepting each other’s faults and choosing to celebrate each others’ differences are some of the most important keys to creating a healthy, growing and lasting relationship.

I pray that all of us will learn to accept the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of our lives and lay them at the feet of God. In the big scheme of life, God is the only one who can give us the strength to build a relationship where a burnt biscuit isn’t a deal-breaker.

We could extend this to any relationship – husband-wife, parent-child, our friendships, our connections in our business world or any place we find ourselves.

Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, said it well, “The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being.”