Friday, January 28, 2011

Telling Our Stories




As I’ve confessed before, I continue to be assaulted by second thoughts about this blog.

For one thing, that ancient, crafty demon, What-Will-People-Think-Of-Me, has to be slain over and over again.

It is not as difficult as it might have been at one time. After you’ve lived through certain experiences, you tend to lose some of your self-consciousness.

Kind of like after having babies, modesty in front of doctors becomes a non-issue.

Still, I am always treading the line between privacy and transparency. Reticence and revelation.

Sometimes these second thoughts are triggered by an encounter with someone I know. We might make conversation for a while, and then I’ll say something I assume the person doesn’t know. And she’ll tell me, “Oh, I keep up with you on the internet.”

Period.

No other comment.

A look of… what?

Embarrassment?

Are you embarrassed for me? Are you embarrassed for yourself?

Or am I imagining the whole thing?

Oh, I know. You’re embarrassed for my family.

You see how easily someone who battles insecurity can fall into this trap. (Yes, I’ve bought Beth’s new book. Just haven’t read it yet. It’s in the stack.)

Apart from the latent insecurity and fear of misinterpretation, there is an ever-growing disappointment in myself. There are some pretty decent thematically-congruent posts stalled in “Works In Progress.” They’re growing stale, pushed aside by pot-pouri posts about daily life.

The reason for this is that I don’t have the time, energy or mental alertness right now for deeper thematic writing. To take it to the next level. But I have a very vivid vision of where I want to go. And I am frustrated that I can’t stick with this writing thing for long enough intervals to make it a reality.

So I start thinking, “This is just not the right time to be doing this.” Maybe I ought to stop these unorganized, half-baked attempts until I can do it right. But we all know the right time to write will most likely never come. Time, in general, is running out for me. I sure as heck am not getting any younger.

***************

Recently, I heard sermons on the exact same scripture on opposite sides of the country within two weeks of each other:

John 4. The woman at the well.

It’s a great passage on many levels. I don’t have time to go into all of them. This is the funny thing, though: Both sermons from two very different pastors with different perspectives brought up the same point.

The woman at the well was a societal outcast. She was at the well in the middle of the day, because she had to avoid the nice ladies who came in the morning. At a time when you could be stoned to death for adultery, she’d shacked up with six different men. She was the lowest of the low, obviously looking for love in all the wrong places in all the wrong ways.

Can you even imagine what her self-esteem must have been like? How many insecurities she must have battled?

But Jesus chose to speak to her. Not to the town hotshots. Not to the priests or the nice synagogue ladies. Not to the most upstanding citizens.

He chose the town tramp.

He reached out in love to someone who was least.

He called her “dear woman.” And he revealed himself to her.

She ran back into town and told her story to anyone who would listen.

And many people believed and received because of it.

***************

Shortly after hearing the two sermons, I read these words from the incomparable Ann Voskamp:

“…And when you sit down to your keyboard, and you write a blogpost – you are writing for me. You are writing for messed up me, and the messed up woman next door, and the messed up woman sitting beside you in church and messed up you. We need your messy stories. And you need your messy stories.

Why do I need your story and why do you need your story?

Because story is a way that the spirit of God can bind our wounds.

It is in story, we meet the Spirit of God. The reader meets the Spirit of God in the reading of story – the word made flesh in your life. The writer, you, meets the Spirit of God in the writing your story – the word made flesh in your own life.

The Word God wastes nothing and He heals two broken hearts with one story __ the reader and the writer.

Us who are fighting for joy from behind the laundry heap and in the trenches with the crying kids and with the bruised marriages and the crushing debts and the battered, frayed dreams, and we. Don’t. Want. To. Get. Out. Of. Bed – we need your messy, real, authentic, unmasked stories. And you who are fallen and broken and scraped – you need your messy, real, ugly stories. Because in the hands of the Spirit, story becomes a salve to the skinned souls.

The first person that any words ever heal – is the writer of those words.

Because our words aren’t wholly our words.

They are from the Word God Himself.

***************

I suppose I’ve gotten the message.

But I don’t suppose it’s just for me.


The verb “to tell” is defined as “to give an account or narrative of.”

It appears in the Gospels 234 times.

The Word Incarnate Himself came here to tell.


All of us have stories that are worth telling.

We don’t all have theology degrees. We’re not all writers. Few of us possess the eloquence of public speakers.  Some of us may stumble over our words like Colin Firth in The King’s Speech.

But we are all called to share our messy stories, in whatever form that might take. The Samaritan woman’s story changed lives. If He can use her, He can use any of us.

I’ll keep sharing my stories, even when I think it’s pointless or boring or sloppy or stupid or wordy or weird. Even when I'm feeling insecure and inadequate.

More importantly, I challenge you to share yours.

We need them.

***************

“Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” (Mark 5:19)

“What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.” (Matthew 10:27)

10 comments:

Trish said...

THANK YOU for your blog! Thank God that He puts the words I need in your heart! You don't know how many times I have emailed your blog to friends and family because I want them to have the same blessing I get from it. You touch people. I need you and this blog! I check it EVERY day!

Laurel said...

I don't have the self-conscious thing. Much. I sort of assume we're all in this together and whatever I'm feeling has been felt by others. I can't tell you how many times I've seen shy smiles of recognition when I tell the bald truth of how I felt the year after I had a baby. It was NOT magical, fabulous, wondrous, instant fulfillment. I felt like I had been run over by a truck for the entire year. I did not love being a mother.

But I did very much love my child. So many new moms feel this way and don't recognize that the two things are separate that they are scared to 'fess up about how much they struggled. More than one of my friends have told me that the only reason she knew she wasn't crazy was because I was straight with her about how I felt and that it gets better. Some women really do live in the new-baby joy bubble and that's great, but not everybody takes to it like a duck to water and that's normal, too.

When we're honest we have the opportunity to connect with and sometimes help people who aren't brave enough to air their own dirty laundry. And usually, it's not that dirty.

from my front porch... said...

Blogging and reading blogs has shown me that we are more alike than not. All of us.

I have a lot posts that I have never published. Because my my blog took the direction of following our five equine kids! It was the followers who asked for more of that! And I throw in daily life with it!
I believe you are right where you should be, Kim. Blogging about daily life. He has nudged you toward this!
I wrote a piece for my 2 year blog anniversary. Maybe you could read it.
http://frommyfrontporchinthemountains.blogspot.com/2011/01/i-heart-you-my-blogversary.html

And always remember, we all have so many more Lurkers, than actual commenters! Last Monday I wrote a post that has 18 comments. I had 796 page views on that post!

Yep. Lots of Lurkers out there!
xo, misha

xo, misha

Carrie said...

WOW. I needed to hear that. What an amazing post. I felt as if you were speaking directly to me and about me. God must be using you. There's a sign not to abandon your writing, it's perfect the way it is.

And -- I'm so glad you pointed out that passage from the Bible. I feel that people really overlook that fact that Jesus loved EVERYONE. He was not judgmental or high and mighty like so many of us are. He didn't care if the person was Greek or Samaritan, a tax collector or the town prostitute, He love them all. How amazing. :)

Cheri said...

CS Lewis said, "We read to know that we are not alone." Someone has to write, so others can read and know they aren't alone.

Yesterday I spoke, the words I usually write, to a large group of women for the first time. I thought so many times about Katherine and her strength. It was a wonderful time-God, as always, was faithful.

Reading Ann Voskamp's new book. Amazing.

Anonymous said...

You and your blog have blessed me immensley.We "lurkers" need the acceptance and encouragement interwoven throughout your stories.

Anonymous said...

Thank You!

Karen said...

whatever...just don't quit writing! Your blog is a never ending story... a favorite book you are loving and the chapters don't end. I think you have so many important things to say. Gosh I know it must be difficult... so thank you!

Candy said...

Kim,

While I rarely comment on your blog anymore, I eat it like manna. I beg you not to stop! Take time for yourself to recoup from your even more extreme than normal stressors at this moment in your life, but please don't stop. I have learned of and seen more courage, humility, honesty, LOVE, on your postings that any I've ever read from someone I know in real life. What a Blessing....

So many of my friends still follow all news about Katherine. I don't know how many read THIS, but I do know there are many more who read than comment. Maybe because we are afraid we won't live up to your ability; maybe we are still in awe of how God continues to use you and how you always seem to see into our minds, then reflect (much more eloquently), our thoughts.

You were born to write! I know you felt the calling before this situation opened your mind to put it to page, amazing each of us who appreciate more than you could ever imagine, your pure fortitude, not to mention your sheer genius. Again, I'll add: LOVE.

Sara Groves sang it so well, "If I do not love, I have nothing." You have written well, because you have loved (and been loved) well.Please remember that if you feel like you are ready to quit.

I Love You All.

Anonymous said...

As I was at a bookstore several years ago, I saw the Bible labeled as the "Story of God", and it made me pause and contemplate how I have somehow missed that perspective when reading scripture. When I started reading the "stories" all throughout the history, I began to see so many people that were actually "just like me" struggling with the same things I struggle with. But their stories also offered hope for a better life than what we sometimes get mired down with on this earth.

And that's what your stories, and the stories of others who comment on your blog, do for me as well. I'm thankful God has given us one another to share this journey through life with. It is the rare person who doesn't struggle with thoughts of insecurity, fear of rejection, etc - because that is what this fallen earth tries to trap us in so that we won't share our vulnerabilities. But it's the vulnerabilities that draw us ever closer to one another and to God!!

Thank you for telling your stories!!

Blessings to you!
L