Jamye Doerfler is a collector of stories, both her own and others’. She wrote her first short story in elementary school and hasn’t stopped since. She holds a Masters in Fine Arts writing and is the content editor of the Motherhood in Kennett Square blog as well as a semi-regular contributor to the (m)other voices blog.
Jamye is also apparently a collector of boys, mothering three, ages 23 months, 3 and 7. She and her husband Peter live in the Borough.
While all of us love to hear a good story, not all of us believe that we personally have a good story worth sharing ourselves. My encouragement to you today is to believe that YOU have stories that are worth sharing and have the capability to instruct, enlighten and impact.
Your story matters to you.
Writing your story may help you discover something you need to know.
When we take time to write down the story of a particular experience, we process the experience in a new way. Even experienced, professional writers don’t sit down to write with a full understanding of everything they are going to say all lined up. Read this post from Charlotte Rains Dixon for encouragement.
Recently I had this experience myself, as I considered the question, “Am I done having children?” By writing out my answer, I came to a place of discovery, and a life changing event followed. Read my discovery here.
Your story may be faith building.
When we journal or write about the difficult times, it gives us a point of reference for how deep the pain went, and how God has pulled us out of that pit. It builds our faith to see where He has rescued us from in the past, to trust He will do that again in the future. The poem “Addition,” which I wrote to record the long road that lead to the birth of our second child, is an example. You can read it as part of this post.
Your story matters to your family.
Your story may give your children insight into where they come from and how that shapes who they are.
Whether we like it or not, our story flows into our children’s lives. Where you come from, how you were parented and loved or not loved, flows into the way you parent your children. When our children are older, the better they understand our own lives and experiences, the more insight they have into why we made the decisions we did.
While they are still young, we might consider how we can turn some life experiences into good bedtime stories, recounting for a little girl our love story with her father, for example. We can also use other means, such as photography, to tell our children stories. I have used a photo book made on Shutterfly with snapshots from my childhood to teach my children about my late brother in a book called, “Where is Uncle Bryan?” I have also created photo projects of what our daily life looks like as a way of preserving some of the details that might otherwise be forgotten. Watch an example of a slideshow here.
Your story matters to God.
God cares about your story because he cares about you. God cares about your story because you are ultimately part of HIS story. God has created you with a specific purpose in mind to fulfill part of his plan for the world. You might feel that you can’t have a significant role in the larger plan, but think of the many stories in the Bible of seemingly insignificant people being used by God to do marvelous things: Gideon, Saul, Moses, Esther, Mary.
It’s entirely possible that one of those significant things you will do will come through you telling your story to someone else. Because…
Your story matters to your friends, peers, and maybe even strangers. Your story matters to me.
Your story may change the course of someone’s life. In my first year at MOPS, I was struggling to get and stay pregnant with my second. But because I’m a very private person, I wasn’t talking about it with anyone. Then, one woman chose to be open about the fact that she was currently pregnant with a baby conceived through IVF. Because of that, I approached her in confidentiality and talked to her about my situation and got her recommendation for a specialist to see. It was that specialist who completed the tests and surgery I needed to bring life back into my womb. Without her information and encouragement I don’t know how much longer that difficult time might have continued.
Your story may make someone feel less lonely in the world. And in those nine months of tests, and surgery, and monitoring until I finally conceived Isaac, and that whole time, she continued to be my confidante in the situation. Because she had been vulnerable, I felt safe. I love this C.S. Lewis quote: “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
You can’t anticipate who your story will impact, or to what effect. But my hope is that you’ll be encouraged to see your life as full of stories that have value. And that at the right time, which is different for everyone, you’ll be willing to share those stories one way or another. You can explore photography, scrapbooking, blogging, oral storytelling, etc. If you love to cook or bake, you may want to record recipes with stories behind them. Whatever fits your strengths, personality and schedule.
Legacy : A Step-by-step Guide to Writing Personal History by Linda Spence
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
The Story, NIV: The Bible as One Continuing Story of God and His People
Jamye will be leading writing workshop evenings occasionally for those who would like to set aside time to work on their stories. These evenings will include some writing exercises, and reading, but primarily will be about having time to work. Bring your journal or computer and meet us Wednesday, October 3 at 7 p.m. Location: 205 Bucks Run Road, Coatesville.
Finally, this blog is open to our MOPS community to share their stories, annotated recipes (recipes with the stories behind them), and reviews of books and places to go with your family. If you have a piece you would like to share, email it to Jamyebeth[at]juno.com as an attachment. She will offer editing suggestions prior to posting.