“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” – Maya Angelou
Until recently I absolutely detested writing. So what all changed? To be honest, I’m not quite sure. However, I can tell you about a specific grammar Nazi that changed it all. Her name is Dr. Leslie Layne, an English professor at Lynchburg College and fellow tea addict. I had her for not just one, but two semesters. I still remember how angry I was when my first grade in her class and one of the first grades I received in my undergraduate career was a F. I also remember how horrified I was when this woman told the class that we will be writing weekly journals. It wasn’t long or tedious (though it did take me a while to get over that first F); I just hated writing, especially about myself.
Up until recently I was the most closed off individual you have ever met. I was too afraid of opening up because I have been hurt so much in the past. My past is filled with anger, depression, fear and hate. I was always on my guard ready to fight at any moment. I tried to escape my reality by reading. I read nonstop. There was never a time that my face was not in a book. However, every time I finished a great book I became angrier. I always remember sitting in the bed crying, enraged at the fact that I read about these characters achieving all of their desires and slaying their demons, yet I am still sitting here struggling just to get through the day. Though I had escaped reality for a moment, when I closed that book, it came right back to choke me, seven times stronger. But then I met Dr. Layne and her syllabus of weekly journals. For the first time I was expressing my opinions and feelings. And. I. Felt. Vulnerable. I felt as if I was slowly ripping stitches out of my wounds from time past. It was awful and awfully painful. That was until I noticed that the more I wrote, the greater I felt. I began feeling at peace, I was feeling…empowered? I began to understand that this pen in my hand or these keys at my fingertips were not hurting me, they were in fact healing me. Facing my reality as I wrote ripped those stitches out so God could heal them properly. I was feeling great, but still not whole. That was until I began to write my story. I wrote about what God has done, is doing, and has promised to do for me. I shared what I wrote with a few close friends and they insisted that I share it. So I did. And the responses were unbelievable. I never could have imagined that people would be coming to me, telling me that my writings inspired and encouraged them to do and be better. Who would have thought all of that could transpire from a weekly journal?
One of my favorite movies and stories is The Freedom Writers. The Freedom Writers is based in Long Beach, California in the 1990s. Following the L.A. Riots and the O.J. Simpson trial, racial tension was everywhere, especially at Woodrow Wilson High School. A woman by the name of Erin Gruwell, the new teacher to Woodrow Wilson, was assigned to teach a group of 150 very unmotivated and “unteachable” first-year students. The majority of her students were involved in gang activity, the illicit drug trade, and were immigrants to the country. Her students fought one another constantly and refused to seek common ground between one another. That was until Mrs. Gruwell showed them that they are quite the same. She did this through writing. She had her students write every day in a journal. They could write whatever they wanted. Most of them wrote their personal stories. They discovered within time that writing is a powerful form of self-expression that could help them deal with their past and move forward…together. Today, many of the students destined for a life of hardship or worse, death, are college graduates, authors, and national motivational speakers and educational mentors. All because of a daily journal.
Writing is more than scribbling words on paper. It is about expressing yourself in the truest manner. To be a writer is to be a mentor, healer, friend, and anonymous confidant. I could have gone back and truly hurt those who have hurt me with a sword. But through the pen, I gained restitution, healing, and peace of mind. Now that my story is out I can rest peacefully at night. Like The Freedom Writers and like myself, if you wish to genuinely end the agony, write. Let ink flow in place of blood and allow God to turn such a testing activity into an active testimony. Tell your story, leave nothing untold within.
I realize I have a story to tell and though it hurt at first to tell it, it hurts worse now to not tell it. One day I will write a book, but for now I journal and I blog because I cannot bear the agony of having an untold story inside me.