Remember the series I wrote on how to write your story a few weeks ago? Well, I am now ready to ask people to not only write their stories, but to consider publishing them as well. Through the last several years in my counseling practice, I have asked many people to begin writing their story for the purpose of finding relief and healing. Michelle Yost took me up on that challenge, has written her story, and in the process has become a tremendous advocate for the discipline of writing.
Michelle is going to manage the portion of this web site that will be dedicated for stories. She is the first to publish her narrative on this web site and will be coaching other people to do the same.
Let me introduce Michelle Yost!
Michelle, tell us a little about yourself.
Well, I am married to Chris, we have four children-Skylar, 17, Lucas, 13, Zachary, 11, and Samantha, 8. We live in Ohio where we enjoy the abrupt change in weather, and experiencing all four seasons, albeit somewhat brief at times. When I am not attending a sporting event of one of my children, I enjoy the quiet, in reading and writing. I have a fear of crowds but appreciate connective relationships. I fear germs but one of my love languages is physical touch. I love Jesus but I cuss a little. None of these makes sense to me either. I can frequently be found among friends, mostly because I have an unhealthy relationship with coffee and they’re a good excuse to indulge.
Well, you are in good company as many of us have seemingly extreme inconsistencies.
What prompted you to write your story?
In counseling, I began to recognize precarious parts of my past that I had not resolved, as they played out in various relationships. I often used words like “parts I wanted to rip out”, when recalling my story. I felt “hurt” much of the time. With your prompting and encouragement, I began to see that I still struggled tremendously with shame. I experienced it’s immobilizing constraint and so desperately wanted to be free of that bondage. Writing and sharing my story was one way I felt I could be free. Shame survives in darkness, so I sought to bring it into the Light.
You are absolutely right. Shame loves the darkness where it can hide, feed, and grow; and before you're aware, it takes over your life. Light doesn't expose darkness, it expels it, totally eradicates it from your life. Shame may knock on your door but it no longer takes up residence.
Did you have any fears or hesitations in writing your story?
Yes, I was scared, very scared. As a people-pleaser, I want people to like me. There are parts of my story, very unlikable. I feared that by bearing my unlovable parts, the people in my life would no longer love me. Recalling parts of my past were hard and painful. I feared living them. But each time I came upon a significant event in my life to process, I felt an overwhelming peace and burden lifted afterwards. You know, the “ugly cry” kind of relief. That glimmer of peace was enough to motivate me to process the next hard thing. And the next. Until I made it through.
One success led to another and then to another. As shame feeds itself on it's success, so does truth and victory.
What was the result of sharing your story?
Unconditional love. Grace, upon grace. Mercy. Forgiveness. Compassion. You told me that it would get easier each time I shared my story, in baby steps. First with my husband, next with two dear and trusted friends. I eventually shared with my family, and even a small crowd. I have connected with people I would not have otherwise, had I not shared my story. I experienced all of the things I felt unworthy of receiving. It was a game-changer for me.
Stories met with grace and love have a way of evolving into amazing conclusions.
What encouragement would you give to others who want to experience freedom?
Be strong and courageous. When you feel like you don’t have it in you to “muscle through” the hard and painful places, pray. Trust that there is freedom and peace on the other side. It’s waiting for you. Writing your story is a physical act of freeing your mind from hurt or shame or lies and reframing it with grace and truth. You’ve been given the option to write your own ending. Grab a pen!
Wow! Regardless of how a story starts, thinking that a person could write their own ending sounds powerful and incentivizing.
Thanks Michelle! To read her story, click on this link.
I will describe steps for you next week, if you’d like to join this life changing journey of writing your story.