Write What Makes You Cry {Preserve Your Story ~ Day 8}

Names and numbers hang pretty on the handle of my bag, these cards spreading out like a beautiful fan from the Orient. The collection is a souvenir from my weekend with two-hundred women who have a passion for documenting the nuances of life in their photographs of beautiful rooms, in the patience of hunching over a piece of pottery, in a string of pearly words, in a kitchen stocked with healthy food, in fashion that makes a statement, in creative plans for a homeschooling unit, in parenting even through weakness.

Sometimes when we find ourselves an audience to such a beautiful array of people, we get a little ahead of ourselves, wondering if we should be capturing the whole of the beauty, packing all these passions into our writing.

I feel this in social media too when others so consistently capture their family’s daily history in every format available. I wonder if I’m being lax, if I’m going to regret letting some of these moments slip by without gluing them in the virtual scrapbook.

Then I stumble on a little verse, a side-thought really. I get a view into the predicament of John, best friend of the Word made flesh, one of the few to record the nearness of Jesus, the story of the miracles, the burgeoning crowds, the teaching, the run-ins, the quiet escapes.

When ink settled on papyrus and John prepared to round out the story of all stories with one last thought, this was what he had to say: “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”

And he said something like it a few paragraphs earlier: “There are also many other signs and miracles which Jesus performed in the presence of the disciples which are not written in this book.”

John’s poetic disclaimers about his own weighty task remind us of our limits and give us freedom to be selective in what we take down.

In our telling of where the Gospel story meets ours, there are so many things we could be documenting. We have to be selective. But how do we whittle down the right story from all the stimuli?

I had my notes jotted down for this post weeks ago: When choosing what to write, you’ve got to start with what brings you to the tissue box or the punching bag.

And then I heard it again from Emily Freeman at Influence: “Listen to your questions. Listen to what makes you cry. Here is where your heart beats strong, what makes you come alive. Listen to your play, your craziest ideas, that brave lyric or that odd first chapter.”

We all write from our own angles and together we tell the whole story. Matthew wrote to the Jews to prove Jesus was the Messiah. Mark wrote to the Romans and recorded Jesus in action as ministering servant. Luke reported to intellectual Greeks in careful journalistic style. John wrote as an eyewitness and close friend, bringing us beautiful phrasing of how “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Each wrote from their own passion and for their own audience and our understanding is all the richer for it.

When Adrienne sat next to me at dinner and shared her heart for telling the stories of the women at a local mission, she had to pull her glasses off to pat her tears away. Nat almost got to crying again when she thought back on how she’d shared her faith story and talked about blogging beyond yourself at a meetup in her region. Blair choked up on stage when she showed us the results of The Pixie Project and shared the stories of six women whom she and her readers had helped bring out of the Ethiopian sex industry through the work of fashionABLE. I got misty-eyed with them. The message came through that much more powerfully with their passion behind it.

Our tears and our fists show us what’s important to us, and they give us a clue about where to start with our pens and keyboards. When it comes to choosing what to write, start with what makes you cry.

{Take a few minutes to look through your planner, journal, email, or even your social media accounts and reflect on the last few months. What things have made you cry? What things have made you angry? What things have made you smile? Make a list. Choose one item and free-write a page about it. Comment below about what you discover and be sure to include a link if you choose to share publicly.}

This is Day 8 of my series 31 Days ~ Preserve Your Story, linking up with The Nester’s annual 31 Days of Change.

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20 thoughts on “Write What Makes You Cry {Preserve Your Story ~ Day 8}

  1. The quote from Emily Freeman, “Listen to what makes you cry. Here is where your heart beat strong,” really struck a chord with me. Time to listen. And write.

    This is a great series Darcy, I plan to go back and read the posts I’ve missed and glean.

  2. Oh, I love this. And this—>”Our tears and our fists show us what’s important to us, and they give us a clue about where to start with our pens and keyboards.” Yes, it’s so true. And I’m just realizing that this is the stuff that pours out when I write it.and I shouldn’t bottle it up when I think it’s all too much, because there’s a reason it needs to come out and God uses it all. It was great meeting you, I’m so glad I got to chat a bit and go to the writing workshop you guys did.

  3. I never realized this until you put words to it. My best blogging has truly come from those things that have brought me to tears or that really mean something to me. As I write my tears often flow and healing takes place or I am renewed.

    Recently I had to return to work after maternity leave. I was having a hard time as I came upon the transition and really couldn’t even find the words (in prayer) to lay my heart before the Lord. My thoughts and feelings often got muddled together. Then, the night before I had to go back to work, I wrote a blog about it. Sure there was a bit of editing so tat I could really express what I was feeling but the act of getting the words out of my head helped me come to a place of acceptance. It also has helped me to understand what my prayer before the Lord should be. Here is the link: http://enjoyingnow.wordpress.com/2012/10/16/honestly/

    • Your post is such a tender one…so many emotions in wanting to be near your little ones but knowing the importance of caring for them by working and bringing income to the family. I pray you’ve found your groove in it and your reunions at home are sweet. I remember working through a lot of these questions when we were expecting our first. Keep writing…it’ll be a treasured keepsake for your kids and I know so many other women resonate with this struggle!

  4. It was so great to meet you this weekend. Thank you for encouraging me as a writer. I loved that session! This post is a great reminder to focus my Influence.

  5. Wow, this post relieved so much pressure to adequately write out everything I learned and experienced this weekend! Thank you for pointing out John’s words :)

    That part of Emily’s session was one of the most powerful for me. I was definitely challenged to explore what makes me come alive so that I can passionately follow Jesus.

    • I’m all about anything that takes the pressure off. I can often get so bogged down in my desire to be thorough that I overwhelm myself and have to drop the task in whole. There’s so much freedom when we go at things from our own little angle, trusting that others will fill in the gaps from their own experience and point of view. Thanks for sharing here!

  6. Darcy this was one of the main things that I carried home with me as well, “listen to what makes you cry”. It was SUCH a blessing to meet you this weekend! I can’t wait to get to know you more in the coming days here on your blog. Then next year at Influence it will be a fun reunion of old friends. :)

  7. Sometimes it is easy to think that with all the good writers, why create? But you are right, there is no one exactly like each other. We need all the voices. I have enjoyed catching up on your posts,friend.

  8. Pingback: A Tale of Teaming Up {Preserve Your Story ~ Day 13} | Message in a Mason Jar

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