Why You Should Write Your Story

RMlogo Alton Sterling, reproductive justice, and the value of life

During lunch the other day a friend asked me about the process of journaling and the benefits of writing. Today, I was thinking about our conversation and how it reminded me about the “why” of putting your life stories on paper (or a weblog).

I enjoy journaling and have been doing it since 1994. It’s not for everyone because God did not wire everybody that way. It’s “a” way of maturing you in your sanctification but it’s not “the” way, and therein lies the distinction: what works for me may not work for you.

Be free, my friend, to explore these secondary matters that mature you in Christ. Whatever those ways are, after you find them, they will change your life.

Writing’s Reward

The reward of writing is restorative to my soul (Psalm 23:3). The process of taking “wild words” and thoughts that swirl around my brain and bringing them through the arm, into the hand, out the pen, and onto the paper is not a natural discipline.

But with practice, the words you put on paper are no longer “wild words” but sentences refined by the Spirit’s illumination. This refining process streamlines your thoughts while casting off the excess. You have succinct words and phrases from the “muse chamber” that communicates with clarity what you want to say.

This sharpening process not only stimulates the mind but it trains your brain to think in “brief and amazing” ways, as long as you continue the mental subjugation to the Spirit’s tinkering of the noodle.

Writing’s Reason

I was sitting in a family reunion in 1994 with Lucia. The patriarch for one of the family lines was reading a journal excerpt from a Civil War relative. He was either a prisoner of war or a guard. Knowing my family, I’m sure he was in jail, but that’s another story.

As I listened to that old patriarch read that short journal entry, I thought how satisfying it would be to have a journal from my daddy. All I remember from him were the beatings, verbal abuse, forced back rubs, smelly beer breath, and slumped over TV watching.

To know another side of him would be something special, as I reflect back on his life from my old age. And it was there, in that reunion, when I made a promise to start writing so my children would have my life stories.

There are stacks upon stacks of journals in our attic for my children. I told them that they couldn’t read them while I’m alive. There may or may not be a few curse words in them.

Writing In the Raw

I write raw. I want my kids to know the real me, not my representative; that person we trot out in the public domain, hoping others will find him more appealing to the real thing. After I’m dead, I won’t care that they get the inside scoop on my most internal thoughts.

Raw writing is what I like the most about the Bible. God does not hold back. There is too much at stake. And it’s encouraging to know David was not a perfect man, as well as all the other folks who stumbled through the Bible.

God gives us His characters in His story just as they were, and that is how I want to live my life. I’m not asking you to like me or even accept me, but at least you will know me, not my representative who wraps himself in fig leaves (Genesis 3:7).

It’s For the Children

Most folks don’t know why I started writing, first in journals and later in cyberspace, but this weblog and my ministry website are for my children first of all. On this site, I collect stories about our family and other things, so they will know “what daddy thinks about this and that.” On our ministry website, I gather other thoughts that deal specifically with personal and relational sanctification.

I want our children to know what daddy thinks about “life and godliness.” Now you know why I write. Not knowing when the Lord may decide to bring me home, I want my children to know me, the good and the not so good.

What I did not know in 1994 is that I would be journaling for 2.5 decades (and counting) and that it would turn into a vocation.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. – Proverbs 16:9

 

In Loving Memory of Lil’ Rick

RMlogo All you need to know for camping out on Black Friday

I was at our local Bilo grocery store on Friday and saw a black lady wearing a T-shirt that said, “In Loving Memory Of Lil’ Rick.” Underneath, it said that he died on April 9, 2002. He would be 34-years old today. He died in a car accident when he was eighteen. He ran into a tree.

The lady wearing the T-shirt was his sister. We chatted for a while. I saw her shopping earlier and noticed the sad note written on her shirt. Being that my name is the same as her brothers, I had to talk to her. While Lucia was checking out, this lady was in the other line. I walked over and asked her what it meant.

She gladly shared her story–Lil’ Rick’s story. It was a teary time for both of us. I shared with her the untimely loss of my two brothers and how sad it is when you lose someone you love. I gave her my ministry card and asked her to check me out.

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. – Genesis 50:20

I let her know that part of the reason that I do what I do today is because of the deaths of my two brothers. And how the Lord flipped the narrative in my life to where what others meant for evil, the Lord intended for good, so many people would be helped and encouraged (Genesis 50:20).

The Reason For Shopping

After leaving my new friend, the Lord reminded me of something that we teach our children. In Matthew 6:33, the Lord taught us to seek the kingdom of God first, and all “these things” will be added to you.

The “these things” the Lord was talking about were clothes, food, and shelter. He meant that your primary objective is to discern what God is up to in your world and seek that most of all. And not to get caught up with sublunary things like, “where shall we live,” or “what shall we eat,” or “what shall I wear?”

He went on to teach that pagan people spend their time thinking about such earthly matters. But God’s people have higher motives, agendas, and practices. The way we practicalize this idea into our lives is that while we are going about our “daily affairs,” our more critical hope is to anticipate God waiting for us wherever we may be going. And our job is to discern His desires after we arrive.

Why Do You Shop?

The way I illustrate this idea is with the following question. “When your wife asks you to go to the store to buy a gallon of milk, what is your primary reason for going to the store?” It’s not to buy milk, but to seek the kingdom of God. As you’re looking for your milk, you’re seeking “kingdom opportunities.”

You start looking for what God may be up to in His world. You know He is up to something because He is always up to something. You don’t know what it is while you’re getting your milk, but you’re confident the Lord has something cool in store for you.

Kingdom Work Practicalized

Friday, I saw a lady pushing a shopping cart. On her T-shirt was a memorial to her brother. Thirty-minutes later I was chatting her up, sympathizing with her loss while offering her the hope of Christ. I also gave her a follow-up opportunity when I asked her to check out my website. Once she learned what I did vocationally, she told me about her friend whose son was shot to death recently; she was grieving badly.

If my sole reason for going to the store were for the milk, I would be like a pagan person. Jesus said not to worry about the milk, but to use those “earthly moments” for kingdom activity.

It is rare not to find those individuals when you’re asking, expecting, and looking for God to be where you’re going.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. – Matthew 6:33