The Power of Unwriting: Where freedom can be found
I love to write.
Anne LaMott says something to the effect that people love to say 'I wrote a book (blog/article...)’ etc. but no one ever says ‘I love to write’. I get what she’s saying, because the process can be quite challenging. But as much as I love Anne, I disagree with her on this one, because personally, I loves to write.
My love for writing started at a very young age. My first real attempt at writing anything for eyes beyond my own was at the tender age of eight. Although I’m almost certain there were other pieces before then, eight was the age I specifically remember writing.
With intention and purpose.
It was a brief poem about Spring and butterflies. I even added a colorfully illustrated border to further emphasize the importance of butterflies, flowers and rainbows.
Critical hallmarks to a successful Spring.
There aren’t many positive moments in my childhood that stand out as vividly as that one. Probably because it was a clear decision point in my life. I knew from that moment on that I wanted to create.
Songs, poems, short stories, scripts, any form in which I could string words together to build a world of my choosing.
It was a way for me to escape a chaotic at best and traumatic at worst, childhood.
I loved the places words could take me. Oh, the stories I imagined I would write! And I did. I filled pages and pages with songs, poems and stories. Naturally, in every case good won over evil. Light cancelled out the darkness and freedom triumphed over oppression.
But the more of my own story I lived, the less I wrote. The more I lived the more distant I felt from those stories I created where everything ended in rainbows and butterflies. The more I lived the more I realized life wasn’t an eternal Spring. There were many days of hard, cold, life-taking winters and deserts that burned up any life that attempted to grow there.
It would take several decades for me to get back to writing. Not empty decades, mind you. I didn’t realize at the time that there was a different kind writing taking place. Perhaps more accurately, an ‘un-writing’.
A season of finding the truth that was buried beneath layer upon layer of lies. Lies formed from life experiences that had me believing the most destructive ideas about myself, God and others.
It took the work in those decades to realize that I was still truly alive inside. To believe if I stopped numbing, stopped running, stopped avoiding, there would in fact be a story worth living. And writing.
A special combination of God’s grace, clinical help and emotionally corrective experiences (which is psychology speak for 'incredibly healing relationships') helped me see that.
(And in case you’re wondering, it is absolutely acceptable to choose Jesus and a solid therapist, along with any other helpful, appropriate intervention you need in order to be well.)
The freedom I found in that process allowed me to begin writing again.
I felt called to it.
But this time, it wasn’t inspired by Spring and butterflies (although both can be inspiring). This time my writing was inspired by others who, like me, may have forgotten their truth. I believed (and still do) that like me, others need to find the freedom to see they have a story worth living too.
Recently, I’ve felt compelled to write about this on a level I’ve never experienced before.
Admittedly, I did my best to write about it from a place ever so slightly removed from the depths of my own story. I’m not sure why. ‘Removed’ isn’t really my style.
Nevertheless, in the beginning, I avoided details and minimized parts of my own story. I pretended there wasn’t a need to be, what’s the word?....
Oh yeah. Authentic.
I don’t think I could’ve taken a more absurd approach to what I was attempting to do.
A little deeper digging told me I still had a bit of work to do on letting go of what others might think. Then, this thought occurred to me:
To minimize the depth of where we come from and the brokenness we have survived minimizes the redemption and power of God to bring beauty from our story.
In other words, my ability to experience the weight of His redemption is directly connected to my willingness to be honest about what He has brought me to and through.
And the more of my story I allow God to use to help others find hope, healing and ultimately freedom, the more the above statement becomes true.
This is a truth I need to cling to in the process. Especially this week.
This week I’m writing more on my story. On generational impact and what we can do to promote our healing, and the healing of those beyond us. To write authentically requires visiting some dark places from my past.
I’m grateful to be able to say, these are places I’ve worked through and no longer feel haunted by. And while I know it won’t 'take me out' to revisit them, sorrow still comes in the visiting.
As I’m writing these events, it helps me to remember the reason for the writing in the first place is bigger than me; bigger than my story. It helps me to know that God can use my story, even the darkest pieces of it, to bring hope and light to others who may be hurting.
He can use yours too, ya’ know?
I’m not advocating that you throw your unprocessed story out into a waiting world and see what happens.
I am, however, advocating that you begin your own journey to deeper discovery of what may need to be ‘unwritten’ in your story.
I know it won’t be all rainbows and butterflies, but on the other side of numbing and running and hiding, you might just write a story of freedom like you’ve never known.
Ask God today: ‘What needs to be unwritten in my life so You can help me write my freedom story?”