Attending to the Story of Others By Dr. Zenet Maramara
Living the Story that God Designs
The Bible is where we find the story about God; in it, we also find ours. God included us in his story and His divine self-revelation through the Scripture gives us a deeper understanding of who we are in the light of his account.
In the beginning, God created man and woman to have an intimate relationship with him, love him, serve him, and enjoy him forever. The Trinitarian God who eternally dwells in communion with the God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit invites us into this fellowship. God wants us to experience the fullness of life found only in him.
The Fall marred the perfect relationship between humans and God, but the drama does not end there. Through Christ, the incarnate God, the story of redemption, and the glorious hope of eternal communion with the Godhead continue to unfold.
This is the continuing journey of the steward.
The Pilgrim’s Journey
We are all pilgrims on the way home. We are fellow travelers with others seeking the way back to the Father. We can find meaning and purpose in the journey when we understand God’s story—the biblical metanarrative showing one God, one plan, and one story of his salvation.
Jesus Christ models how to live our lives on earth and be attentive to God’s creation, our relationship with him, ourselves, and our fellow humans. However, our daily busyness and the constant and competing noises within ourselves rob us of being attentive to the one thing that matters.
I identify with Martha more than Mary, who sat at the feet of Jesus. I like getting things done and making them comfortable for others. I have to confess that it can be energy-sapping. When it is time to find personal solitude, peace, and quiet with the Lord, I am already exhausted.
I like to think that my life is a Mary-Martha (exclamation point)! At least, that is my aspiration. I am learning to develop a listening posture—to listen to God, myself, and others. If I am to journey with others as a fellow pilgrim, I need to respect and humbly stand in the presence of another with a listening posture.
Listening to another person’s story often leads to a deeper understanding of ourselves. I need to empty myself of personal needs of security, love, acceptance, status, position, and power. It takes discipline to hold off on these things and resonate with the other person’s story and her need for a listening ear to reflect her story. I need to learn to hold my attentiveness long enough to discover the richness of hearing, seeing, and perceiving life-giving faculties.
Being present is a mark of a generous steward. We do not always have to have a ready word to appease and comfort. Sometimes our presence is all that is needed. We have the opportunity to respond without words and be there for the other. Silence at times is needful.
We can provide expansive spaces that are safe, and welcoming and seeks solidarity with fellow human being. We can consciously give a cozy relational atmosphere uncluttered by any judgment or fear. Jesus rescued the woman caught in adultery without pointing an accusing finger, yet she departed from her old ways knowing her sins were forgiven and followed the gentle and loving way of Jesus.
Somehow, we have lost the key to the deep religious experience of companionship, to be touched and enriched by the story of a unique being. We can choose to practice being present and using all our senses and imagination. We can even be surprised by the story of another that turns into a life-giving moment.
Dr. Zenet Maramara is the founder/president of Christian Stewardship Association and the chairman of Christians in Conservation, an A Rocha associated project. She was a professor of biblical stewardship at Asian Theological Seminary and former director of the ATS Strategic Leader Development. She organized and directed the MBA in Biblical Stewardship and Christian Management program of ATS.
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