4.2.10

The Stories We Tell

If there is anything that blogging has taught me, it’s that we all have a story to tell. Some of us use words, some images, and some video. Some of us make beautiful things, or show the Internet the spaces we’ve carved for ourselves in our own homes, sharing the work we do every day and our thoughts on the subject. Finally we have an audience for what Edith Schaeffer calls “The Hidden Art of Homemaking.” As we write about our lives we often come to see our story in a new way.
 
One of the most surprising aspects of blogging, for me, is the way my story changed with the telling. All of us live in a story. The scholarly types refer to it as a meta-narrative. A meta-narrative is the over arching plot by which we make sense of the story of our lives. It encompasses everything. That’s how it’s possible for 3 different people, with very similar lives to believe very different things about themselves. Just glance at a random selection of mommy blogs if you don’t believe me. One mother at home with toddlers will write as though she is in a tragedy, mourning the change of life she is faced with. Another believes she is in a comedy and writes accordingly. Still another thinks she is participating in an epic adventure with lofty goals for raising children.

It’s a common joke that blogging is cheaper than therapy because we find that it often can serve that purpose. We find a community, we share our hurts and triumphs, and we feel less alone. But something else is happening too. Something I can only describe as miraculous. As many blog, and read the blogs of others, our meta-narrative begins to change.

For example, when I started blogging at least 50% of my outlook was tragic. I had a lot of company. It was great to find people who understood and I felt less alone. But there were all these people who shared the same kind of life as mine, and their perspective on it was completely different. It fascinated me. I would go to their blogs on hard days and just read through their archives because these were women who seemed to have a secret, to know something I didn’t. Sometimes they would say things that offended me, because I disagreed. But I found their stories compelling, and beautiful, so I kept going back. What I didn’t know was that it was changing me. The act of telling my story, within the context of other similar stories, was causing me to reexamine mine. I finally had the kind of perspective I previously lacked, and that perspective shaped me for the better.
 
Then I read Anne Voskamp’s post on gratitude. She wrote about how recording a list of things she was thankful for changed her life. But it was this sentence that burned it’s way into my consciousness and worked into me a deep understanding. “My list is different than another's for a reason: God has made me uniquely me. The Gift List is about gratitude... but it is more. It is about what defines me and my own personal identity.”
 
I started to keep my own list. I began to write my story differently. I thought of the legacy I might leave for my children one day. I began to choose the story I would tell. That’s part of finding a blogging voice; the choices we make about the story we will tell. Choosing my story changed me. Choosing how we tell our stories can change us.

I will be forever grateful to the blogging community for being an instrument by which God showed me the beauty in my own life, and in the lives around me.

Where else can we find such diverse and inspiring stories at the click of a button than through blogs?

Sure, it’s fun, or we wouldn’t do it. And yes, the idea of making money and getting stuff is exciting. So too, for some, the rosy dream of being a published writer. But I am convinced that the heart and soul of blogging is the stories we tell, and the stories we read, that change us and make us more than we knew was possible. That is why I will keep blogging, whether I ever become “successful” or not. For what I have gained, and what I have to give cannot be measured by such terms.

8 comments:

  1. Well said. As always.

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  2. I can think of blogs that fall into the categories you've described, but for me what differentiates these blogs is not their meta-narrative but rather their sense of humour. To write your life through the lens of epic requires not merely lofty goals, high ideals, and a sense of joy, but also the ability to take yourself completely seriously.

    You've written before about the fact that the blogs you value most highly are those written by women you admire and learn from. I often get the sense that the blogs you like best are probably the ones I like least. I think both of us have some kind of characteristic misattribution - I sense a pompous arrogance in blogs that are merely sincere and reflective, and you sense a malaise and discontentment in the blogs in which I would see as appealingly ironic and self-deprecating. I know a lot of people feel that mommy bloggers complain too much, and maybe I'm reading the wrong blogs but I have NEVER read a blog in which I felt put off by that. To me the complaints are a kind of smokescreen and the love and joy these mothers have for their children are all the more radiant because they're not spoken directly.

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  3. Bea-Interesting. I feel the need to clarify. I expect that everyone has a meta narrative and writes out of it, whether their aware or not. A reader can see their over arching mind set when reading long enough, whether it's stated or not.

    And I by no means meant that my favorite blogs are those where the writer's approach is epic. It has to do with the writing, because I agree, many of them do just sound pompous and arrogant. Heck, I'm sure I sound that way far more often than I intend.

    I really enjoy the funny self deprecating blogs. It's refreshing to read someone who doesn't take themselves too seriously. I think that's a really healthy place to start.

    I find consistent whining difficult to return to, even if it's well written because as a blog reader who isn't a friend it's just too much like the work of walking through a hard place with a friend without the friendship. Especially if it's a consistent state. Perhaps I just take them too seriously and that's my problem.

    But, to clarify, the blogs I read, enjoyed and felt mentored me were of all types, on many subjects,it was a certain quality of graciousness that underlay all of the regular content that I found most compelling and thought provoking. And yes, an occasional "suck it up princess" kick in the pants from a few places was helpful too.

    Dang, now I'm going to be spending all day mental re-writing this post to try and figure out how I could have made that more clear.

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  4. Well, you could achieve perfect clarity by linking to examples of blogs you don't like, but there's a lot of good reasons not to do that. ;)

    I know that we're kind of speaking at cross-purposes here and part of what I'm reacting to is a completely unrelated (or only tangentially related) conversation I had with a friend a few weeks ago about movies. She loves inspiring movies based on a true story, and I hate inspiring movies based on a true story. Now perhaps that's because (as I think my friend suspected) I'm a bad person who doesn't want to improve myself. OR maybe it has something to do with the movies themselves, but I wasn't quite able to articulate what it is that lets me know that if you describe a movie as inspiring and based on a true story, I'm going to hate it. But I think there's some kind of personality match-up going on here - there are people who like to be inspired and then there are people like me who resist being inspired and who try to come up with good rationalizations for that. Or, to be more accurate, there are people like me who are capable of being inspired only when there are massive firewalls of irony and self-deprecation built around the attempt to inspire so that it gets past my defenses.

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  5. I received something from this post. Thanks.

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  6. Oh my God! That just blew my mind! So true!

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  7. So very true... blogging is cheaper than therapy. And it makes you think what kind of legacy what you want to leave behind. And it changes your perspective cos writing, reading it again... it helps us reflect. God bless you!

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  8. So very true... blogging is cheaper than therapy. And it makes you think what kind of legacy what you want to leave behind. And it changes your perspective cos writing, reading it again... it helps us reflect. God bless you!

    ReplyDelete

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