She sat in the speaker’s chair with her husband next to her, sharing how they lost their son, Hunter Kelly, from a fatal genetic disorder. Her husband, famed NFL quarterback Jim Kelly, choked up as he shared the story of how their son’s death brought them to a new place of hope in Christ. In the middle of the interview, Jill Kelly admitted that it was selfishness that brought her to faith. She wanted to make sure she would see her son in heaven someday and it was that desire that led her to Christ.
But she also added, “That selfishness is in all of us. We are all selfish until the selfless one comes into us.” She understands now that her original selfishness has been replaced by a desire to know and love Christ, not just go to heaven.
At the end of the interview, the crowd rose their feet, not just because of their extraordinary story of loss and grace, but because of the courage of sharing their story so publicly.
As easy as it looks, vulnerable storytelling is hard. It’s difficult to share the things that have broken us. It means exposing our ugly selves for the world and in the process, risk feeling foolish for our transparency.
But then there are the payoff moments when the risk is worth it. The moment when someone says, “That really touched me,” or “Your story changed my life.”
Our stories become the thread that helps us persevere. Stories give meaning to our lives, taking us out of our deep pain and heartache and helping others to see the light in the dark, the hope in the suffering.
Our stories, which may seem like ugly ducklings to us, are suddenly transformed into swans, revealing that even the hardest roads may have some wild beauty hidden in them after all.
This weekend, I’m sharing a story about my son Silas at the Listen to Your Mother show—a storytelling event where “motherhood gets a microphone.” The stories at this event are as varied as the moms who tell them. Most are about our mistakes, some are about our tragedies, but all are about love. In this way, our stories unite us.
Over the next few weeks, I want to share with you what I’ve learned about storytelling and how you can tell a great story too.
Each week this month, I will sharing some tips and hints on how to share your story. Along the way, I’ve learned some of the best storytellers don’t have any formal credentials at all—they are just good at sharing their lives around a cup of coffee. They excel at being vulnerable storytellers.
As I connect with people who are lost and lonely, struggling to write a new chapter after tragedy, I’ve learned that a good story is like a cup of cold water for parched lips.
A good story helps us to make sense of our pain, and gives us hope we will come out wiser and stronger in the end.
We need to hear that there is life after grief, divorce, cancer, or a hard day of parenting. We need to know how you survived raising teenagers, and caring for your aging parents, and grappling with life’s hard questions. We need to hear stories of how you showed up, how you lived a life transformed by grace, how the small things counted in the end.
We need to hear stories of forgiveness, stories of loving the unlovable, stories of offering a cup of cold water.
Because your story matters.
But here’s the hard part: Telling your story involves sacrifice. It means we tell our story with no expectation of a response. It means we tell our story, not to put a spotlight on ourselves, but to help others through their hardship or struggle.
In the end, we are telling good stories when the focus is not on us, but on the One who changed us.
Like I said before: Sharing our stories this way—with no expectation of a response—helps us to get over being attention-seekers, and puts our focus on being life-changers.
Ready to start this journey of sharing your story? It starts with a commitment. It starts with saying, I want to use my story to help others.
Do you have a story to share? A story of grace? A turning point in your life? Something you’ve learned?
Then you need to be sharing your story.
If you ever have wanted to…
- write your story down
- start a blog or give new life to a current blog
- share your story in a group setting (church, community, small group)
- share your story one-on-one
…then this is the place for you.
This month, I’m sharing tips to help you become a better storyteller. I think these tips will be especially helpful for people who have always wanted to:
- get their story down into words
- share their story of faith and hope
- share a story of great loss, struggle or suffering as a way to help others going through the same.
Are you ready to start a new journey? Get ready for “Telling Your Story: Essential steps for taking your story to the next level.”
As always, there will be room around the table for those who just want to sit back and listen, for souls old and young, who’ve come for a strong dose of hope. You’re always welcome here.
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