When you’ve decided you’re going to write your story, you need to know it’s the most important thing you could be doing. But unless you value it highly, this can be the most debilitating obstacle.
For such a long time, I felt my story wasn’t important. Who wanted to read mine?
I didn’t know who my story had made me. It’d been too buried.
But exhuming it, the healing has been profound, pulling from the ashes of charred memories. With time, the truth emerges, and the past is present again.
And the things I’ve discovered have been treasures.
Recently, I remembered part of my story I’d probably have let die. It wasn’t that long ago, but in 2010, I was ready to leave my safe corporate editing job. We left the security of a regular paycheck, like a couple of nomads.
I thought of how in The Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian leaves home and bids farewell to family and friends to journey to a new place he’d never been where he’d have to depend more fully on God. And I just read an article about how when Abraham and Sarah left Ur, they left their position and acquired wealth, believing God was calling them to something else, something less tangibly secure but infinitely more spiritually fulfilling. In my time in publishing, I’d been trained to see many distinctions I hadn’t before and we both learned more how to “follow the pilgrim pathway of Jesus, to take up our own cross on a daily basis, [and] walk in his way of trust and vulnerability.”
It’s not that I haven’t known or shared this story, but I haven’t I valued it highly enough. Is it because with credit cards and parents we weren’t truly on our own? Or am I afraid of seeming self-important? Both, probably, and plenty of people have had it far worse.
But through writing I’ve discovered that despite all that, protecting and preserving our stories is about discovering God’s story. What he did through us, with us, in spite of us, continually pursuing that story is a matter of faithfulness and obedience, to become aware and invest in this life he’s given. To speak its life-affirming power in proper words and context, it can become the delight of our lives, an endless source of inspiration.
Because the same God of the ancients is the source of it all.
And if you’re determined to seek this, you may need to realize how you’ve diminished yourself. A large part of my struggle was simply missing it. Interestingly, the common definition of sin, hamartia in Greek, means: “missing the true goal and scope of life.”
Have you missed the true value of your life story because of misunderstanding?
In time, God led me to some kindred spirits: my wife, my college roommate, and a couple authors: Ann Voskamp in One Thousand Gifts, and Susan Cain in Quiet, who was recently called “a champion of people who don’t like to advertise themselves.”
I.e., my kind of people.
I found I am who Ms. Cain talks about: “Everything is telling [quiet] kids: ‘Do not follow your actual nature. Be a cheerleader.’ But it’s O.K., and maybe even beneficial, to keep to themselves. There are a lot of kids who wish they were different.”
Before I claimed permission to be myself, I didn’t write my story–I wrote myself off because that’s what so many others seemed to do all those years I didn’t speak up or want to be in charge. It was easy to be habitually unexpressive.
But thanks to these people and especially this book, I found hope that I wasn’t alone. Many other quiet people felt the same as well.
Quiet showed me that introspection is not self-involvement. It may seem weird to others, but it’s not a malady or “anti-social.” In fact, it shows how connection with oneself enables social connections to happen.
But maybe most importantly for my future, Quiet showed me how valuing your personal story can mean so much more to people if you commit to it, stay in the process of discovery, and write it down.
If you’ve decided you want to write your story, you may simply need to write it. Who you are matters. God knows that truly caring for others first requires caring enough for yourself—and many writers have found this the secret to finally overcoming the resistance and writing the story.
I truly hope and pray you can find your way to believing in the value of yours.