It all came out of the art journalling we did on Saturday at the Refine Retreat.
Worship music was playing and if something happened to speak to me, I jotted it down. That is usually how I collect moments that speak deep into my heart. And i’m so thankful for a journal to record them in.
Many of the women had gone to have a nap, make phone calls or explore the beautiful state park we found ourselves in the midst of. I love being able to be creative without rules, although sometimes hard to let myself go this way, but a room full of things that I could use for free and creative people to bounce my ideas off of…totally amazing.
I was just wandering back to my table, had been looking at some of the other beautiful work that the ladies were working on..and stopped to look at what Annie had been working on. I sat to look at her other stuff and out of no where the question that pretty much stopped me in my tracks. ‘So Janel, tell me your story.’ said Annie, and I didn’t know what to say, because while I’ve usually never at a loss for words concerning most things, sharing my heart isn’t something that I’m all that comfortable with sometimes.
And there was no pressure. I felt like I was among friends. But for some reason, my tongue stuck in my mouth. I didn’t know what to say, so I jokingly responded ‘I don’t have much of a story to share’…using humor is often my way to diffuse situations that I’m uncomfortable in. Where I’m not sure the truth will be accepted, so I try to use it to see how genuine the question is. And Annie gave me a soft smile and continued working on her art, looking up at me ever now and again, waiting to see what I would share and if I would.
And I ended up sharing pieces of my story with her. And she ended up sharing pieces of her story with me. It was a beautiful reciprocation. And I returned to creating some more journals and pondering such a poignant question.
Later that evening, we had a bonfire. And I was the first person down to the fire pit. Laura and Shelly came down next, and Shelly was reminiscing about how the vast array of stars we saw reminded her of the cottage her family visits in the summer. I had come to know both ladies a year earlier when we both attended the same retreat in Nebraska. I had been following their blogs and interacting with them on Facebook and was glad to one again find myself connecting with them. Over the fire Laura asked me, ‘Janel, I know that we interact a bit on the internet, but I’m not sure I know too much about you. What is your story? Tell me about yourself.|” and once again I found myself joking and saying ‘oh I don’t have much of a story’ and then distracting them from the question by talking about the retreat and having the other ladies join us.
Later that evening as I returned to my room, I realized that I hadn’t answered Laura’s question. And I got to thinking about why that might be..and why it seemed to be something that I was so wary of. And both of these woman are women who I feel completely safe around, that I know genuinely want to know where I’ve journeyed and seen GOd at work in my life. But for some reason, I don’t deem my ‘story’ important enough to keep track of or even to share with others. I dot’ think I’ve got a whole lot to offer.
A couple weeks later and I find myself doing the (in)RL conference put on by (in)courage. And what is the theme this year, ‘We need YOUR story’. And as I listened to each woman share a little bit of where she had come from and where she was going, I was convicted that one, I had been given a story to tell and two that it didn’t have to be something wild and mind-blowing but it could be sharing the every day moments as well.
it has come to me that I need to not only be invested in hearing (truly hearing) other’s and their stories..what they chose to offer. But to also be willing, when asked in a safe place and by people I trust, to share pieces of my story that in the past I have discounted as being something of little value or need to be known.
I am thankful that both the Refine retreat and (in)RL reminded me that each of our stories are important, no matter what form they take.