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Telling Stories in the Dark

Finding Healing and Hope in Sharing Our Sadness, Grief, Trauma, and Pain

Jeffrey Munroe

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About the Book

Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Reformed Journal Books & Front Edge Publishing
Publish Date: January 30, 2024
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1641801786
ISBN-13: 978-1641801782

Jeff Munroe is a masterful storyteller, brilliantly weaving together the compelling real-life stories of individuals who’ve been wounded by tragedy with experts’ commentary on how to find insight, hope and healing from each narrative. We all experience deep loss at some point in our lives, and Telling Stories in the Dark is a rich contemplation on navigating trauma and grief

—Karen Mulder, founder of the Wisdom of the Wounded ministry

In the darkest corners of our lives, where sorrow, trauma, grief and pain reside, there exists a profound capacity for resilience and hope. Telling Stories in the Dark by Jeffrey Munroe is a uniquely inspiring non-fiction book that illuminates the transformative power of sharing our most profound experiences of suffering.

Within the pages of this remarkable compilation, you will encounter the stories of ordinary individuals who, when confronted with profound adversity, chose to do something extraordinary: they transformed their pain. Munroe, a skilled storyteller and compassionate guide, takes us on a poignant journey through the lives of these remarkable individuals who have harnessed the redemptive potential of their suffering, what Munroe’s mentor Frederick Buechner calls “the stewardship of pain.”

When we tell our stories, and when we listen well to each other’s stories, we discover much about what it means to be human. We discover there are others like us. We discover our feelings aren’t unusual. We discover we aren’t alone. And sometimes we discover God in the midst of our stories.

In the Foreword, Sarah Arthur, the author of a dozen of her own inspiring books, describes Telling Stories in the Dark as helping readers to rediscover “a faith that finds itself in the dark. Here in these pages, that’s what you’ll find. Story after story of those who walk a similar road. Conversations with those who suffer about how they do—or don’t—experience the God who promises never to leave us nor forsake us. Before intellectually exploring any of his chosen topics, Jeff embeds those topics in the lived reality of ordinary people on their worst possible days. Because this is where God meets us.”

Among the many authors, scholars and counselors you will meet in the chapters of this book are the late Frederick Buechner, the bestselling author who is one of Munroe’s mentors, plus Roger Nelson, pastor of Hope Christian Reformed Church in Oak Forest, Illinois; clinical psychologist Daniel Rooks; scholar and author Marilyn McEntyre; Mitch Kinsinger, pastor of Arlington Hills Lutheran Church in St. Paul, Minnesota; therapist Mary Anderson; Suzanne McDonald and Chuck DeGroat, professors at Western Theological Seminary; poet Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer; pastor Sophie Mathonnet-VanderWell; Yale University professor emeritus Nicholas Wolterstorff; and artist Makoto Fujimura.

This book is a poignant reminder that no matter how deep our wounds may be, we possess the innate ability to transform our pain into a source of strength and growth.

Through the power of sharing our stories, Munroe invites us to connect with these brave individuals, each of whom has found a unique path to healing, and in doing so, he illuminates the collective potential for resilience that exists within us all.

Telling Stories in the Dark is ideal for individual reflection and group discussion. It’s a great gift for friends who are grieving, because Telling Stories is guaranteed to leave readers inspired, uplifted, and deeply moved.

See book announcement article on Front Edge Publishing website.

Author

Jeffrey Munroe is the editor of the Reformed Journal and author of Reading Buechner (IVP, 2019), and an ordained minister in the Reformed Church in America. He has had poems and pieces published in The Christian CenturyChristianity TodayUS CatholicThink Christian, and also frequently writes devotionals for Words of Hope.

Book Trailer

Endorsements

The question is not if we will suffer in this life, but rather, how we build resilient souls and nurture a durable hope when we inevitably face suffering. Beginning with his own powerful example, each of the true stories in Jeff Munroe’s Telling Stories in the Dark model for us all a path toward a redemptive stewardship of pain that we would do well to ponder, pursue, and proclaim to others.

—Jeff Crosby, author of The Language of the Soul: Meeting God in the Longings of our Hearts

At the core of the Christian mystery is the notion of redemptive suffering, how brokenness becomes beatitude and grief is transformed by grace, how gratitude inoculates against our grievances. Jeff Munroe identifies the power of telling our own stories—sharing our experience, strength, and hopes—as the passe-partout for our spiritual journey: life’s master-key.

—Thomas Lynch, poet and author of The Undertaking and Bone Rosary

Jeffrey Munroe has written an unusual book. It is hard to classify, which is one of its strengths. He tells “stories in the dark, ” stories of suffering in all of their anguishing and horrible variety. He writes with grace, elegance, and empathy. However painful, the stories have a strange beauty to them. As he puts it, he is trying to “play” with pain. It sounds irreverent. It is in fact the opposite. But he also reflects on those stories, often by interacting with professionals who provide a larger perspective, about trauma, forgiveness, injustice, and more. It is this combination of powerful stories and deep, insightful reflection on those stories that makes this book so moving, compelling, and informative. I read it in one sitting. It drew me in, kept me there, and captivated me.

—Gerald L. Sittser, professor emeritus of theology, Whitworth University, and author of A Grace Disguised

In John 16, Jesus tells his disciples, “In this world you will face trouble,” and he’s right. We will. Jeffrey Munroe does not shy away from the suffering in the world, but instead invites the reader to explore stories of pain and suffering in a way that shines a light in the darkness. I would recommend this book to anyone who is presently suffering or is suffering-adjacent. In other words: This book is for everyone.

—April Fiet, author of The Sacred Pulse: Holy Rhythms for Overwhelmed Souls

Jeff Munroe’s Telling Stories in the Dark takes very seriously Frederick Buechner’s dictum to reflect on our “stewardship of pain.” With grace and truth, he narrates his own story and the stories of others to ponder suffering and a faithful response to it. You’ll definitely be blessed to spend time with Jeff and his friends!

—Jennifer L. Holberg, author of Nourishing Narratives: The Power of Story to Shape our Faith. Professor and Chair, Department of English, Calvin University; Co-Director, Calvin Center for Faith & Writing

Jeff Munroe avoids the quicksand of theodicy to focus instead on the stories of people whose faith has survived great suffering, which he tells with warmth, generosity, and compassion.

—Christian Wiman, author of My Bright Abyss: Meditations of a Modern Believer. Professor of the Practice of Religion and Literature, Yale Divinity School