rewriting our stories
I knew it yesterday when I clicked publish. I knew my words didn’t match the truth in my soul. I woke up with the same thump-thud in my heart, the steady beat that pounds inside of me, knowing I didn’t work my words to reflect the truth.
I don’t like this part of the writing process — the part where I miss my mark and the words fail what I really mean. I look for these areas in my writing and I pray for an unsettling of my soul. It’s important to me that my words don’t misconstrue, that my words point to truth. My soul is squirming and so I need to go at it again, pulling this string of forgetting stories. (I’m trying to ignore the voice in my head that says, You should have written the funny, lighthearted bit of the boys riding bikes in the snow. Then my mess wouldn’t be public.)
I’m thinking it’s not so much about choosing to forget — some wounds run so deep we won’t ever forget — but about choosing to rewrite our stories. (Thanks for these words, Amelia.) As I was tugging the thread of forgetting stories, I played with an image of a scar. It didn’t end up as part of my post, and yet, it might be the writing that stuck with me the most from yesterday, even though it was deleted.
Andy has a deep scar on his torso. It is from reconstructive chest surgery when he was ran over by a payloader at ten months old. It changed the course of his story. He forever will live with the results of this injury. He won’t forget it because the scar and the results of living with chest pain and joint pain and scar tissue are there every single day.
But he doesn’t let it stop him. He chooses to forget what might have been (a pain free body) and instead accepts the truth of being healed.
As long as we are living, there will be wounds. We all have scars, seen and unseen. Part of the storytelling process is owning our stories — the good, the ugly, the hard — and then healing through it all. This is what I meant when I wrote:
It’s not forgetting like locking it in a box and letting is mold and fester and grow ugly. Rather it is choosing to let it go and blow it away. Our stories are as much about what we let go of as they are what we hold on to.
When we let go of what we thought should have been, when we let go of what we think we deserve, when we let go of wishing life went a different way, then we forget the stories we no longer need.
First we let go of the gut-wrenching. Then we forget the unfairness or the bitterness or the nightmare. The wound begins to heal because we choose to forget. This is the kind of forgetting I believe in and hope for myself and for my kids and for us, as humans.
The scar remains, but it doesn’t suffocate us from living. Rather, it reminds us we are survivors. We were on one path and now we are on a different trail. Sometimes it’s a shift we want…a forever family, a marriage, a grandchild. Other times, we don’t like a shift in trails, we don’t want to be on this new path…a friend dies, a spouse files for divorce, a parent is diagnosed with a fatal disease, a child goes to jail.
We live in a fallen world and the stories haunt. This is part of living. Then we begin the process of healing, letting go and forgetting and holding on and bringing joy to others through bits of our stories.
I just read Ann Voskamp’s blog post from Friday. These bits of her words are helping me sort out the tangled mess of healing and forgetting and keeping.
- “Yes, this is Spirit work. But I can wholly listen to your story. Tell bits of mine.”
- “We can share our stories, because I think story, not argument, may reveal there is a God.”
- “Maybe the dark depths of us really long for the filling of a wounded, weeping God who doesn’t write answers in the stars but writes His love in our scars. With His scars.”
- “Maybe in ditches and by death beds, maybe we aren’t seeking evidence of God as much as we are seeking an experience with God.”
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