Writing Butterflies and Brokenness {Preserve Your Story ~ Day 11}

I combed through gritty words and searched for my own like a beachcomber after high tide. I pictured this particular shell opening up to look like a butterfly with wings spread. I imagined the swish of the surf, like young love, and then straight away came the weight of the cargo ships in bay. If I was going to write authentically in response to this part of Gift from the Sea for my summer book club, I had to write about the days of swollen eyes and headaches and doubt.

I would have rather taken the whole experience, tied a rock around it and thrown it out to sea, but something told me I had to write it down. I had to write my brokenness. Maybe sharing about a confusing and embarrassingly immature time in my life could help some other young woman choose true love over fear, just as a mentor’s wise words had helped me.

We don’t want to hide behind the happy highlight reel or go around looking like a 50s sitcom star vacuuming in a dress and pearls, but neither do we want to be the girl without a filter, spewing teenage angst on our readers.

Before I went to Influence, I weighed in with other attendees on Nish Weiseth’s final preparations for her talk “Blogging Dangerously,” asking how we can decide what’s appropriate, how we can discern the difference between just trying to be edgy to get attention and writing something hard or thought-provoking that could really make a difference.

Sometimes, in order to speak authentically on an issue or experience, and to let people know they’re not alone, we have to write outside the lines and share stories of our own failure or brokenness. But even when we write dangerously, we need to do so with some sense of caution.

Nish wisely encouraged us to begin with praying about our idea, asking our Counselor for wisdom. Why share this particular story? Is the risk of conflict or misunderstanding worth it? Next, we ask permission from others who may be affected by the story. How do your people feel about it? The trust and security in our closest relationships should always come before any supposed benefit for our wider circle of readers.

It took me a whole day to edit “The Butterfly Effect”. I shared it with my husband and had him redline anything that made him uncomfortable. I shared it with my mom who had prayed me through the drama to begin with. She did some more redlining. They became the filter I needed when emotion had clouded mine.

Finally, when I had permission to publish the piece, I wondered if readers would make false assumptions about the validity of my relationship or make judgments about my emotional stability. Yet, I felt the risk was worth the possibility of reminding people like me that strong love is based on trust and that while the butterfly sensations of different phases are not illusion, neither are they are a fit foundation for relationship.

That day after I’d put my story out into blog world, I followed a random string of links and comments and more links that led me to three other blog posts covering similar issues. I felt a camaraderie in my writing when I had just hours ago felt odd and alone. Here was a little group of us synchronized by the Spirit to put this truth into the blogosphere that particular day…to challenge those who mistakenly believe that romantic feeling is the substance of relationship, when it is really just an accessory like a seashell on a shelf.

{How do you decide what sensitive topics and personal struggles are publishable? What stories of others’ weakness, failure or brokenness have ministered to you? What stories have you shared from your own life and what has been the result?}

This is Day 11 of my series 31 Days ~ Preserve Your Story, linking up with The Nester’s annual 31 Days of Change.

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13 thoughts on “Writing Butterflies and Brokenness {Preserve Your Story ~ Day 11}

  1. Beautifully written. I am pretty open with my struggles in real life, and I use that as a barometer. Would I share this, would I say this, to someone sitting across from me? I also think about what I wish someone would have said to me.

    • Nish also shared something that a fellow blogger friend shared at another conference…We should post what we would share out loud in the ballroom, not what we’d share in the bedroom. ;) And I like your last qualifier, too. Would this post be helpful to me if I were reading it for the first time?

  2. Darcy, I am loving this series and feverishly taking notes as I attempt to apply the content to my own writing. (Yes, I am a closet writer!) One point I would like to make is that my struggles, both past and present, ARE the foundation for much of my writing. While some are masked for privacy, they truly are what drove me to my knees and allowed the Lord to write His Story through me. I would appreciate any direction you can give me for honing this passion. My love to you.

    • Such a joy to have you along for the ride. I remember being at breakfast with you more than a decade ago and talking about our common love for writing. I also remember your good counsel in my relationship struggles at the time. Thank you. As for your writing life these days, are you journaling consistently? Do you have an outlet for sharing your written words with others? When the subject material is sensitive, you can talk with those involved and get their permission, or like you mentioned, you can mask the details to respect others’ privacy, or I’ve even known some bloggers who’ve publish under a pseudonym so that they are unsearchable. And, of course, there is always the completely opposite way of looking at it, Anne Lamott’s philosophy that Nish mentioned before going into details of the more thoughtful route: You own everything that happens to you. If they didn’t want you to write about it, they should have behaved better. ;)

  3. Sharing brokenness is necessary, but it is essential to it to protect involved characters and our readers equally. I think she said it best: “If you are going to do it, make it count!” And you do it very gracefully my friend ;)

  4. I’m so glad you shared that story… what a beautiful picture of love! A beauty that outshines the fleeting butterflies. Nish’s session really helped me better understand how to share the harder stuff. There’s a piece of my story I’d be happy to write about and I’m sure could help others… but one of the main characters isn’t okay with that. So, I respect that person and take permission to share it anonymously in a case-by-case situation. And I’m okay with that. I appreciate that outside perspective, because sometimes I’m too willing to put things to words that I shouldn’t. PS, I’m catching up on your series, and loving it. Thank you for taking the time to do it!

    • You are wise and self-sacrificing to protect others by keeping to yourself what you’d rather share freely. P.S. I’ve got a lot to catch up on, too. I know I’ll finally have time to read my friends’ 31-day series when I’m done writing this one.

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

  6. Thanks for linking up on the blog today! I reread this again, and there is still so much truth to this. It’s a hard boundary sometimes. Something that is challenging me is that my parents started reading my blog. I’m being very careful not to talk about anyone but myself and my experience, but I still feel there are things they would much prefer I kept to myself. Anything that smacks of shame or weakness or struggle is something they would rather keep hidden. I have to remind myself that my story is mine to share, my voice is mine to speak.

  7. Darcy – I enjoy your blog. It speaks to me because I have been blogging through my loss and find it healing. It has been suggested that I write a book or publish my blog in a book form, but find that to be a daunting process. I have linked your blog to mine and I see a connection on the message we both have through our writing. Thank you! – Peace

    • I remember you from Twitter a while back! Glad to see you here. I definitely resonate with the authenticity you use in sharing your struggle. The hard things of life have their own little pictures of redemption. Being a sensitive soul, I’m drawn to that.

      I will touch on publishing a bit in the final part of the series, but if you have other questions, I’d be happy to share what I know in a comment or personal message. :)

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