Recalling Our Own Stories

Recalling Our Own Stories

If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ.
Philippians 3:4-7


My wife, Nancy, and I returned from a cruise to Alaska a few weeks ago. Now, Nancy and I have been in all 50 states.

Even though it was a great trip, for me, the end of the trip was a little melancholy. I finished one of my “bucket list” items. Now, what do I do?

There is a book written by Edward P. Wimberly entitled “Recalling Our Own Stories”. (©1997. Josey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco) Briefly, in the book, he proposes that we have stories. We have a primary story which defines who God has called us to be. We also have secondary stories which are part of us but not our primary story.

These secondary stories can serve a purpose in buttressing our primary stories. However, whenever these secondary stories begin to become our primary stories, they cause major problems.

My primary story is I have been called by God as his child through baptism. I have many secondary stories which help support my narrative as God’s child. For me, they are Spouse, Father, Son, Pastor and so on.

One of my secondary stories is “visitor” to 50 states. But if this becomes my primary story, where does this leave me now? At the end of my story? A person with no more stories? Graciously I have my primary story to turn to. I am a child of God through Jesus Christ.

This was true of Paul, the author of Philippians. He had many secondary stories: he was of the tribe of Benjamin; he was a Pharisee. He was a man with many stories. But these were not his primary story. His primary story was as a child of Christ.

All of us have stories. We have a primary story which is the narrative of who we are. We also have secondary stories which are meant to support the main narrative. These secondary stories are not meant to become our main stories but support our primary stories.

What is your primary story?

What are your secondary stories?

Finally, in fairness to Mr. Wimberly, I have oversimplified his thoughts to a few paragraphs. His ideas are much more than I have presented here.


Ricky Adams
Peace Lutheran Church
Mill Valley, California