You may have heard me discuss this concept of “talk story” before. It is a local term in Hawaii that people use. It wasn’t till I moved to California that I realized this was a phrase specific to Hawaii.
When someone says, “we go talk story” or “we were just talking story”, it most commonly means we were just having a casual conversation. Recently I began to wonder if there was a more significant intent to this phrase.
After moving back from California, I had a moment of clarity. Most of the conversations I had with long time friend back in the islands had to do with stories of the past which we were involved in together. Even thinking about Hawaii friends that I made in California, we often shared stories of mutual friends we had and times gone by.
Last week Emily and I were watching a Hawaii PBS Town Hall discussion. The central focus of the conversation was on preserving the old Hawaii. Images of Hawaii past flashed on the screen and people told their stories of how things used to be. I totally related and quickly became nostalgic. Emily inquired, “What are people wanting to preserve?” Good question.
Just the day before I had coffee with a friend who has started a new church here in the islands. While he is a haole boy from California, I see his genuine heart to connect with Hawaii, the people of Hawaii and be a witness of God’s love. We have very open conversations about the dynamics of the culture here and the challenges that come with relationships built between the local people and newcomers. He said, “I see that it takes time.” My mind processed, “time and effort.” AHA! I shared as I worked it out in my own head that we build our story with people. With recent flood damage in parts of the islands, there are opportunities to lend a hand and work alongside residents. It’s those moments that will be a part of your story. It’s being written into the story that builds relationships. It takes time and effort.
Upon reflecting on my time in the mainland, it seems one of the dynamics of being there is the ability to rewrite your story in many parts of the country. It’s so vast that you can escape and start again. It’s not just a new chapter, for others, it’s a whole new book. There is value in that. We need to move on and think about how we will continue our story and not just cling on to the past, but we can’t just forget about the past either.
As I consider the Bible, I see how it is both a history of God’s story and the eternal premise of what’s to come. “In the beginning…” is significant and pivotal in the good news of Jesus. All the people along the way are significant. God’s people even recognize that in their documentation of genealogy and remembrances. When we move past the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, it’s not a new story. The chapters of the past are not forgotten. It’s all significant and connected. When Jesus says he didn’t come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it, it’s a throwback to Moses and the commandments. It’s all connected, the commandments are still applicable, the interaction with Moses still very significant, but now Jesus IS the fulfillment of the law and a life lived following Him is that pursuit of righteousness. For what purpose? “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20) It’s all connected: past, present and future.
There is a difference in cultures. This creates difficulty in relationships. While this does not solve all the problems or address every dynamic, we need to talk story more. Talk story about the past and the way things used to be. Laugh and reminisce about the good ol’ days and the adventures we’ve had. We are encouraged by them, we build community by them and we learn and grow from the past. We should not just archive or past for personal viewing, it has to be a part of us right now. With that, we need to give equal attention to creating new stories and see how new people are added characters to our book of life, not threats to the stories we have already written. Our lives are rich opportunities to live out the will of God that He has set forth before us. It’s meant to be exciting and vibrant. That’s not to say it will be easy or convenient, but abundant in the riches of the Lord.
I’m so glad you all have been written into the story of my life. I thank Jesus for all of you and even those He has used to bring me into challenging times. It is all meaningful and fulfilling, because the Lord is in it. I will always treasure and reflect on the significance of it, while looking forward to new stories with new and old characters. I will embrace the past and the present until that one glorious day when I stand before the Lord in the final chapter or eternity. -jason