I am more scared not to

I remember the first time I shared part of my story. I was 9-years-old and the local newspaper held a contest for elementary students to write their autobiographies. It was like I had found my calling! The words flowed out of me and when I was finished, I was scared to submit my story. I didn’t want my parents to read it because I was afraid of disappointing them. I had shared my struggles with believing in God and I was pretty sure they would not appreciate my authenticity. I convinced myself my story would never win and I submitted it trusting only my teacher would read it.

Of course, my story was selected to be published in the local newspaper! I was a wreck! I tried to reverse the process by begging my teacher to do something and she wisely responded, “Jill, it’s okay. Someone needs to hear your story.”

Someone needs to hear your story. Those words have stuck with me for over thirty years now and I am convinced my teacher hit the nail on the head. If our stories were not meant for one another, then why do we struggle? Why do we engage with life’s circumstances? Why do we love when we know we are at risk for disappointment, heartbreak, and even betrayal? Every element of our stories has the power to inspire, grow hope, and even instruct another person. Our stories are powerful because they communicate the single most empowering phrase in all of humanity, “You can do it,” and you will survive and even thrive. Our stories say, “I was there and I made it to the other side,” and that is encouragement.

It is time for me to tell more of my story. As I have sat quietly with my intuition and my God, I have heard the whispers in my soul that I have more to share. I am scared and that is okay because I have reached a point where I am more scared of NOT sharing than sharing. A trusted friend recently said to me, “What have you got to lose in telling all of your story? You have already lost your family. What more can happen?” She has a point!

For so many years I have been telling my stories from a place of expertise, and that is fine. There is a time and place for that. However, what is even more powerful in our human family is the raw authenticity of how the story played out with all the emotions, low points, and triumphs included. Yes, I will tell you how I grew in love and light and forgiveness and hope along the way, AND I will tell you there were many f-bombs, much anger, and seething hatred to contend with as well.

I am taking this leap into the unknown because someone needs to know they too can survive. They need to know their over-powering emotions are normal and will calm at some point. They need to know they can rise from the rubble into a wiser, more loving existence. They need the hope my story can bring.

I invite you into my story. I invite you to start telling your own story in whatever way fits you. You might not be a writer like me, but you tell your story beautifully through artwork or song or verbal storytelling…find your voice and tell me your story. I am pretty sure I need to hear it.

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Photography provided by the amazing talent of Tammy Brice