Don't forget the things which you have seen with your own eyes." (Deuteronomy 4:9)

The Story You Have is the Story Worth Telling

I’d never taught with laryngitis before, and it was enlightening, because in losing my voice, I realized what an important tool it has been to me in the communication of content and the conveyance of mood and emotion. A class on parenting is nothing without a few accounts of real life encounters, and even though my delivery was weak and croaking, I sensed students leaning in, listening hard to the stories I was sharing from the crucible of our parenting life here on this country hill in Maine.

That awkward teaching experience coincided with my reading of Your Story Matters: Finding, Writing, and Living the Truth of Your Life by Leslie Leyland Fields, and as she described the holy wrestling that accompanied the compiling and the sharing of her own story, her words connected on a deep and very practical level. Fields has been laying down one word after another for most of her adult life, and in the past several years she has developed and led a writer’s workshop, set against the rugged backdrop of her home in Kodiak, Alaska. Glimpses of interactions from past years’ workshops, suggested exercises accompanied by examples from the work of her students, and practical tips about the writing and publishing processes make the book a master class for aspiring writers honing their craft, but it’s also a valuable resource for the family remember-ers among us who embrace the significance of daily life and then curate stories for future generations so that nothing important falls through the cracks.

Our Truest Words

When we write, we join God in the sacred act of paying attention. A right response to this privilege then, is to record what we’ve seen, to share “the truest words we can find” with the world–or with our own precious people. (5) Pinning a memory to the page illuminates and clarifies the lived experience, and the words we select in the process shine a light into the event, revealing the presence of God where before he may have gone unseen. Writing from where we stand and then letting the words find their home is our offering toward God’s solo work of redemption.

Doesn’t our story deserve the truest, clearest, brightest words we can find?” (174)

Our Stories Overlap

In my parenting class, I saw relief pass over the faces of my students as my husband and I admitted to the oversights and downright misfires in our journey with four rowdy sons. Your story will also be a mirror–or a cold drink of water–to your audience. Furthermore, your courageous risk may be the needful push or the kind invitation that leads someone else to dare to share her story! Fields writes within and heartily recommends “a triangular community” of shared stories in which “we’re drawn into the presence and the hearts of one another, and together, we’re drawn closer to God.” (80)

The Spirit of God guides us as we choose words that put flesh on the bones of our life history. First, paying attention to our lives, and then constructing our story scene by scene, we become aware that writing and story telling are true spiritual work, and, like all spiritual work, they are messy and defy our attempts at control. Even so, you can start today by remembering Moses’s words to God’s people in his farewell address:

Don’t forget the things which you have seen with your own eyes.”
(Deuteronomy 4:9)

Because Moses followed his own advice, we have the first five books of the Bible.
I wonder what treasures will result from your faithful living, remembering, and reporting of the story God has entrusted to you?

Many thanks to NavPress for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.

Grace and peace to you,

I’ve been sharing Leslie’s work here at Living Our Days from the very beginning.
Here are links to my reviews of her most recent books:
The Wonder Years
Crossing the Waters

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees. If you should decide to purchase
Your Story Matters: Finding, Writing, and Living the Truth of Your Life, Crossing the Waters: Following Jesus through the Storms, the Fish, the Doubt, and the Seas, or
The Wonder Years: 40 Women over 40 on Aging, Faith, Beauty, and Strength simply click on the title or the image within the text, and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

 

 

72 thoughts on “The Story You Have is the Story Worth Telling”

  1. It’s so true that our story is God’s handiwork. He is the author of our life and this definitely has me thinking about how God stretches us as He has written our story, for purpose!

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  2. Excellent article Michele. I’ve always been hesitant about sharing my own story because I think no one wants to read it. I share bits and pieces but have held back some because I hear my stepfather say not one cares about it’
    Thank you for this encouragement and thank you for linking up @worthbeyondrubies

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    1. Oh, that’s my cork in the bottle as well, Diane. I never feel as if my story is (fill in the blank): as interesting, as crucial, etc.
      I’m learning though, and Leslie’s book has helped me to see that my story is the one God has entrusted to me, and it’s my responsibility to steward it well.

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  3. ‘I wonder what treasures will result from your faithful living, remembering, and reporting of the story God has entrusted to you?’

    This just might be my mantra walking into this next season.

    Michele. thank you.

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  4. I was sharing my story yesterday with my brother from another mother and he said, “I hope you know this could be a movie. I hope you’re writing this because my goodness.” While I’m not a screenwriter and don’t know how to write a script, I did tell him that a book is not out of the question. Say a prayer for me as I figure out where to start with it all. My life is unfolding the way it is for a reason. I’m sure someone can be helped by it.

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    1. Stopped in my tracks by this: “My life is unfolding the way it is for a reason.”
      How easy this is to forget, and it’s a comfort as well as a MANDATE!
      Blessings to you, Yvonne, as you discover God’s purpose in your own story.

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  5. Michele, I love, love, love this quote: “ When we write, we join God in the sacred act of paying attention. A right response to this privilege then, is to record what we’ve seen, to share “the truest words we can find” with the world–or with our own precious people. Pinning a memory to the page illuminates and clarifies the lived experience, and the words we select in the process shine a light into the event, revealing the presence of God where before he may have gone unseen. Writing from where we stand and then letting the words find their home is our offering toward God’s solo work of redemption.” So good ❤️

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  6. This book sounds like a “must-read”, Michele. As a writer, I think I share my stories selectively. I would like to find the courage and honesty to dig deeper, to share more personal, meaningful moments rather than anecdotes. Even if no one would want to read them, I believe it would benefit me. This is just the nudge I needed. Thank you!

    And I can remember teaching chemistry with laryngitis once. My students were extremely cooperative.. You could have heard a pin drop in my room!

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  7. What a beautiful review laced with your own storytelling. I love words and crafting them in a way that they reach the hearts of others. I find when I am most vulnerable is when I reach deep into someone else’s heart. I am adding this book to the list.

    I am praying that the book I am crafting right now reaches the hearts of those who need it most and touches those deep vulnerable spots in hearts.

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  8. These words, “is to record what we’ve seen, to share “the truest words we can find” with the world–or with our own precious people” remind me of our purpose as a disciple of Christ. To tell the truest words of our experience with Him to others who need to hear it. Not only as a blogger but as a disciple, fulfilling the great commission one on one.
    May God use all our words to tell the stories He wants told.
    Thank you for sharing this and reminding us what we need to do with the words He has given us.
    Blessings, Cindy

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    1. We are not left to fumble around in the dark, are we? Cindy, thank you for all the ways in which you are busily fulfilling the commission and sharing His story alongside your own.

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  9. What a great title for a book, for our lives! Every story does matter, even when we think it doesn’t. Thanks for sharing more from this book, Michele. May you never lose your voice again. 🙂

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    1. And Lisa, thank you for faithfully showing up with pieces of your own story–and for encouraging us all to absorb the True Words if THE Story as part of our personal narrative.

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  10. Michele
    I always say we all have a story to tell and each one is important and in someway we are all connected.
    We are all God’s children.

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    1. Yes, every story is important and needs to be told. I am learning this still–it’s easy to forget in a noisy world. Perhaps this season of enforced quiet will help us all to get in touch with our inner narratives.

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  11. This sounds like such a great resource. I’ve put it on my TBR list. I especially love the thought of Moses taking his own advice and this: “I wonder what treasures will result from your faithful living, remembering, and reporting of the story God has entrusted to you?’”

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  12. “When we write, we join God in the sacred act of paying attention.” Oh my–what a privilege!! Isn’t it a wonder that the Word gave us the ability to also communicate with words? No other creature on earth but humans were given that gift. All the more reason to choose the truest, brightest,clearest words we can find” (with God’s help)! Thank you, Michele!

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  13. Michele, so honored by your words—and by all who have responded. I am cheering you on, each one, as you keep track of and commit to language all God has been and done in your lives (especially now! We ALL have Coronavirus stories for sure!!) Blessings and may God give us all good, true words for our stories!

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  14. Michele,
    I love this line: “When we write, we join God in the sacred act of paying attention.” I suppose that’s why God put writer’s here on this earth – to pay attention, capture what we’ve witnessed, and write about it for His glory.
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

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  15. I love this, Michele. It is hard for us to understand the necessity for us to share our unique stories. As I finalize my next book, it has been challenging to share my stories in detail, honestly. I continued to remind myself that it was God who gave me the inspiration to share these truths. My prayer is that I will “meet” some of the readers in a place that will bring them comfort and hope. Thank you for sharing, and thanks for visiting today. It was great to hear from you. Be well. Stay safe, and God bless.

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  16. That sounds like a great book! I think part of why I was drawn to blogging was to share my story and find others who had similar stories to share. Thank you so much for sharing with us at Encouraging Hearts and Home. Pinned.

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  17. Love this, Michele: “When we write, we join God in the sacred act of paying attention. A right response to this privilege then, is to record what we’ve seen, to share “the truest words we can find” with the world–or with our own precious people.” ❤ Thank you for sharing your story and this book.

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  18. Thank you for sharing this book. We all have our own story and each one is important!! Thanks for linking up and stay well.

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  19. This sounds like another great book, Michele. It’s so easy to wish our voices (or elements of our stories) were like someone else’s, but God definitely has His reasons for making us sound how we do as we walk the journeys He’s set before us, doesn’t He?

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  20. As writers, we all need these kinds of reminders about the clarity of purpose–God’s purposes–in and through our personal stories, Michele. All we need to do is show up, share honestly and trust Him with the increase. That’s the message I needed to hear today, because it surely is easy to give into the temptation to give up sometimes! Hugs to you! Pinning this!

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  21. Thank you for sharing at #OverTheMoon. Pinned and shared. Have a lovely week. I hope to see you at next week’s party too! Pleas stay safe and healthy. Come party with us at Over The Moon! Catapult your content Over The Moon! @marilyn_lesniak @EclecticRedBarn

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Right now, we are all part of history, with stories that never seemed possible only a few weeks ago. Our story is God’s plan for us and needs recording. Thanks for linking up with #globalblogging

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  23. I used to teach writing, and although I’d cast this differently (I’m not religious, so your context isn’t mine), I do agree that the story you have–whatever it is–is a powerful one if you can only learn to see its power. So many people dismiss their own lives as boring, unimportant, and think the interesting stuff all lies elsewhere. Or they think they should make their lives look better. Or worse. The story we’ve lived, whatever it may be, matters. The trick is to look into it deeply enough and honestly enough.

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