By Mohan Karulkar:
Wanna know a secret? It’s kind of a big one.
All your stories are ready to be told.
Yup, every one. Not only the complete ones, not only the happy-ending ones, and not only the shocking ones. Every one.
Stories change over time; they’re written as you go, like free-form poetry. At any point in the journey, there is a compelling, insightful, and deeply important story to be told.
The struggling addict has as much of a story to tell as the 10-year sober one. The woman trapped in abuse has as much of a story to tell as the one who sent her abuser to prison. The 15 year old high school student has as much of a story to tell as her 30 year old mother. The suburban dad with a nice house and stable job has as much of a story to tell as the homeless man living on the street and begging for change.
I promise you, after reading hundreds of stories, many of which have brought me to silent tears, I know this to be true. Believing that your story must be “done” before it can be told is an ugly lie that keeps people trapped in silence, while keeping the community trapped in ignorance.
There’s a caveat, however. While all your stories are ready to be told, you may not be ready to tell your story.
Our stories mean the most when their universal truth is plainly expressed. That takes honesty, reflection, and — most importantly — humility. Because, once your story is told, it’s no longer for you. Storytelling as catharsis is a selfish act, and is better done with your closest allies, your loved ones, and your God. Storytelling for the tribe — the world — is a selfless act that exposes your flaws and failures for the benefit of others. People of the Second Chance is, and has been, a safe place to commit that selfless act, and to then watch the community learn and grow from it.
Many of us aren’t ready to be selfless with our stories, though. That’s not a criticism, but an observation. Until we have had our private catharsis, we can’t expect to tell meaningful public stories. This is why POTSC rarely publishes anonymous stories; until you’re ready to own it, we have no business trying to own it either.
So, what does this all mean? It means that you have a story to tell, but you need to be ready to tell it first. You must be willing to tap into the honest truth of where you’ve come from — warts, scars, unkind thoughts, adulterous acts, injected drugs, stolen photos, and all.
But you must also reflect on your story and discover the universal truth in it. We don’t tell stories to establish reputations, but to inspire and ignite radical grace. And that’s what you must discover in your own story — the radical, insane, illogical, and offensive grace in it all. Not how long you’ve been sober, or how much you love Jesus, or how long you’ve been happily remarried — but how radical grace turned your story into a flaming arrow that cuts deep into the heart of the Vulture Culture, whether that’s the bully next door or the devil himself.
Take this to heart, and search your soul for YOUR story. When you’re ready to change the world with it, we’ll be right here to help.