My strategy to survive was to appease the soldiers and to make friends with them. I thought, if only we could make friends with these soldiers, then we would survive.
But porters can die at any time. For example, if a soldier got angry and just shot me with his gun, nothing would happen to him. I would just die, like a chicken or a rat. To Tanintharyi Division, they send 500 porters every year. Of the 500, only 72 porters make it back to the prison. If you survive, you survive.
I was a porter for nearly six months.
~ Lai Pa, 34-year-old man from Burma. Source: How to Use Stories to Change the World.
by Hillary McFarland
verybody has a story. Sometimes it's buried so deep we forget we have something to say. We wonder who would want to listen? And often it's so painful that reliving our stories through the telling process is such an overwhelming prospect that we squash it into oblivion.
Stories are like sculptures. They must be chiseled slowly, carefully. Creating art from a sprawling array of experiences takes time. And yet, this can be powerful. Redemptive. And part of a personal healing journey.
My book features many stories from women who share their experiences of setting out like Abraham into a land they do not know, a life they do not know. It's a tremendous act of faith to follow the prompting of God and leave all they've known behind, but these women are brave. Courageous. And I am deeply inspired by them. They are my heroes. And I continue to hear from others who do the same ... who leave all to take up their cross and follow God into the wilderness despite extreme physical and emotional hardship, rejection from their families, and the comfort of what they've always known. It is scary to walk by faith! It is agonizing to endure accusations, knowing that your act of godly obedience reaps judgments of rebellion, of feminism, of apostasy and worse from those you love the most.
It is in this pain, in this becoming, in this life journey, we find your story.
Jeff Goins says
God gave you something to say. Even if you don’t believe in this idea of a Creator who has an ultimate plan for the universe, there is something in you that knows you have a purpose. That there is more to life than just you and me and all our stupid, fleeting fancies.
(Yes, I just used “fleeting fancies” in a blog post. That’s how I roll.)
You have a unique voice with a unique message. It is called your story. And only you can tell it. ~ Jeff Goins, You Have a Voice
He hosts my favorite website for writers. He is encouraging and inspirational, offering fresh perspectives on the art of prose. He says that everyone has a story to tell. And he reminds us that:
To be an artist (a writer, photographer, painter, musician, etc.) is to suffer, but not without meaning. Not without purpose. To be an artist is also to create something beautiful that can alleviate pain. ~ Jeff Goins, Art Helps us Deal with Suffering
Some of the early drafts of my book Quivering Daughters were written in real time. For me, writing helps me to process. It's like lifting the lid off a pot of boiling water, allowing steam, and therefore pressure, to escape. It allows the rabid, frothy pain to dissipate so I can see what is really there underneath the surface of emotional reaction. It helps bring clarity.
My story, and the stories of my heroes, are real. They are told through our own unique perspectives. This is something no one else has. No one else can tell your story the way you can. But here is what I want you to take from this: when you share your story, with all of its nuances of light and dark, of pain and joy and heartache and victory and morning and shadow, when you flood your pages with vulnerability and crack open those deep, hidden places, there will be those who try to discount your experience because they had a different one. They have different eyes and don't trust your eyes. They have a different tolerance of pain. And they will dismiss you. They will try to re-write your story. Or edit it. Or tell you that you're wrong. Maybe even that you are lying.
You can't take my story away from me.
Here's the thing. God knows the truth. He knows the truth about your story, and that is what matters. Trust Him. He knows what your eyes see. Tell your story with confidence because you answer to Him, not to those who discount your thoughts and experiences and feelings. You don't have to defend the truth. Truth defends you. Be faithful to God's calling and trust Him. He is faithful.
If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God... John 3:20-21
Your story comes from your heart. It is a culmination of many things, but it gestates in your heart and you birth it, and it comes alive. Guard your heart. Keep it with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. Don't give it away. Don't let your story be re-written by others.
What story do you have to tell?
What keeps you from telling it?