Words Matter. Your Words Matter.

This past week I have been listening, learning and examining in a deeper, more intentional way than ever before. The crisis in our nation demands this introspection. One thing that is clear to me, is HOW IMPORTANT YOUR STORY TRULY IS.

It’s not about obtaining a spot on the New York Times Bestseller List. It’s not about fame and recognition.

It’s about sharing the truth – raw, ragged, emotional, blood-soaked truth – about your life experiences. The good, the bad, the hope, the struggle.

Stories have a way of teaching what lectures and textbooks never can. They are emotive. They draw the listener / reader / observer in, placing us firmly in your shoes and your worldview.

You – only you – can share the heartbeat of your story. Where you’ve been, what you’ve learned, where you’re going.

The world needs to hear your words. Your country, your community needs to hear your words. I need to hear your words.

If we are ever to embrace unity and equality and connectedness, we must share our stories unapologetically. We must seek to listen objectively and without judgement to other people’s stories. Both, with the goal to seek understanding through the common fragility of empathy, mourning, joy and love.

When I hear your story, I better understand your heart, and learn fresh perspectives that help me understand my own heart as well. When I share my story, I hope you receive the same blessings and fresh understanding of your own life and perspective.

I encourage you to spend the next few days in thought. What IS your story? What purpose and meaning have you found in where you come from? What are you learning now? What are your hopes and dreams for the future?

Begin considering what your story contains. What message do you uniquely have to share with the world?

Where to Begin

While everyone has a story to tell, many will shy away from telling it. I don’t blame them. Vulnerability and humility are not categorically encouraged in this world of ours.

With that being said, your voice, your story still matters. The freedom that comes from you voicing your story is indisputable. The freedom that comes from having others hear, receive and affirm your story is exponential.

The steps to sharing your story aren’t necessarily easy, but they are simple.

Write. Stream of conscious write. Use a notebook, computer, tablet, even your phone (though I would suggest that true freedom of purging your inmost thoughts happens more readily with a pen and paper). Write to remember, express the full breadth of emotions from the moment. Reflect, question, presume nothing. Don’t know what to write? Write whatever comes into your mind. Words, expressions, images. Bear your soul to the paper.

Record. Don’t like to write? Use your phone or computer to record yourself voicing your story. Verbally process where you came from, what you’ve learned, where you want to go. Your hopes, dreams, fears and insecurities. Allow your emotions to come through as you speak. Strip bare. Allow your pent-up thoughts to flow from you unrestrained. There is peace in the telling. There is freedom in the unburdening of your soul.

No one has to see your writing at this point. No one has to hear your musings. This process is for you alone. Not only will you find clarity and space in your mind and heart, you’ll now have “practiced” telling your story without fear of recrimination or judgement.

This process isn’t a one-and-done. Take your time. Allow yourself to process, adjust and reflect. Take as much time as you need. Get it all out. You may find that the deeper you go, the more you have to say. Embrace that. Allow yourself to take this journey.

On days when the words won’t come, sit with what you have. Read what you’ve written thus far. Consider it from different angles. Simply sit and be present in the moment and in the knowledge that you’ve gained from the process.

Don’t force the words to come. Give yourself grace.

When to Share

After the processing comes the telling. If you need to, start small. Find a close friend, a confidante. Someone you can trust, who you can be your real, no-holds-barred self with. Invite them to share their story with you as well. Again, there is freedom in the telling and receiving of our stories.

Our stories have power. Your story has power. And your story is desperately needed to bridge the great divide we are faced with in our world right now. Take hold of your courage, step out onto that bridge. Your efforts won’t be wasted.