By Samantha McKenzie
We all love a good story. We want the happily ever afters, the heroes who save us from darkness and the successful endings that separate us from the ordinary. Whether we like getting it out of a book, a television drama series, or near the water cooler at work, most of us have held onto the memorable details of someone else’s tale.
But what about your own story? Are you willing to share the details of your own journey and dig up those lessons learned? Are you ready to bare it all?
I grew up in a traditional West Indian family, where grownups bragged about the good times – the children who made the honor roll, scored the winning touchdown at the game or debuted at a recital. When we gathered together, family members took turns boasting about promotions and raises, the long overdue vacation and the latest “new thing” that they got on sale.
We shared a myriad of milestones that reminded us of God’s favor and marveled in the joy that constantly filled our collective homes. These were the stories about our unpredictable lives with chapters tastefully torn out. The type of family who hid their shame and took their secrets to the grave.
My family stories were told with deleted scenes, shredded copy and tall tales still incomplete.
We never practiced sharing all of the stories. Right? How could we?
I like to reference Oprah Winfrey when I talk about story telling. She did what we all dreamed about doing. She sat on a couch and told it all. One episode after the other, we watched her share all of her joy and pain and saw how the world came to love her for it. She was able to push aside the shame and the guilt and false pride. And because of her honesty and television platform, she was able to teach others how to do the same. She confessed her sins and dug into those pitfalls of her very own life. In doing so, she silently gave us permission to grow, to expand and to heal. We watched her transformation right before our eyes.
Telling the good parts of our lives is easy. It’s those rocky road passages that keep us in the closet, locked away from our own truths. Through my own storytelling, I’ve learned the immense healing that it brings. There’s a purpose in it all. Through ups and downs, our voice emerges and our faith gets stronger. We also learn how to interpret our pain just a little better. We learn too, that trials actually bond us. These are the stories that help shape our journey.
Our stories make us. They reveal the real heroes, like my aunt who never gave up on her son who was using drugs, or my dad who was always taking another college course because he was a student of life – both stories taught me never give up.
It’s time you tell your story. Start by writing it down. Talk in small circles about your experiences. Keep going until you find a way to be free and unashamed. Are you ready?