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"Each of us must come to care about everyone else's children. We must recognize that the well being of our own children is intimately linked to the well being of all other people's children. After all, when one of our children needs life-saving surgery, someone else's child will perform it. When one of our children is harmed by violence, someone else's child will commit it. The good life for our own children can be secured only if it is also secured for all other people's children. But to work for the well being of all children is not just a practical matter-- it is also right!" - Lilian G. Katz, Phd.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

There is Power in Stories

I have a friend I have known for over 20 years. We went to middle school and high school together, and even dated some of the same guys. We have coached each other through some difficult times, even though we live 600 miles from each other (thank you, internet!). There have been busy times, when we barely talked, and times when we chatted every single night.

I was there for her when she left her husband. I knew the story, and supported her. But, honestly, I didn't know the story at all. We never know the whole story. We can project and imagine. We can talk and cry together, but the details are only ever known to one person.

She decided to share some of the pain and fear she went through when she left to give perspective to her healing now. The entire post is powerful, and I suggest you read it, and even share it if you know someone in a similar situation. But, the paragraph that grabbed me and didn't let me go was this one:
I have never done anything SO bold, so brave in my entire life. It took every ounce of strength and courage I have in me to do it, and I am glad for the impetus of my friends behind me. The terror I experienced that night is unlike anything else I have ever known.
It is those moments in life, and how we respond to them, that come to define who we are. It does not matter if it is a major crisis, like the one Susanne went through, or a series a minor bumps that wear you down. It is the experience, and then, the sharing of the experience, that gives these stories power. It is what helps others see into a person and understand things that are hard to grasp. It is what gives the humanity to the people we know, and it is what helps others find it within themselves to take those steps that build their own stories.

My challenge to you today is to share your story. Find a moment that made you look at life through a different lens and examine it. Find those words to express what you felt and where you went and open yourself up. Be it a little moment or a huge moment, know that your words have power, and that small part of yourself you put out there may go a long way to helping someone else navigate their path.

It is a risky and scary thing to do. We are afraid of judgment. Those moments are a vulnerable place for us. To be open is an act of courage. We worry that we have no story to tell. We compare ourselves to others and devalue our stories, robbing them of the richness they have. And yet, when that story is explored, there is a richness to life and things to be celebrated are found.

Some of you reading this probably have told your stories many times and in many ways. I salute you. Some of you feel that you have no story to tell. I challenge you. Some of you worry that elements of your story open you up to risk if they are public. I sympathize with you. Write what you can, leave what needs to be left. And some of you have that story just waiting there, not sure if you are ready to share. I encourage you.

Will you take my challenge?

*Zan, I know you read this, and I want to tell you that you are one of the bravest people I have known. I know you look at my life and wonder how I can do it, but I am looking at your life wondering the same thing. Thank you.