Reviewed by Tonia Gütting | May 27, 2020
Our coronavirus quarantine was interrupted recently by a tornado that cut a chunk out of our neighborhood and backyard in Leesville, Louisiana, leaving behind damage but no injuries. I spent the next week picking up limbs and raking leaves and thinking, “This is a story to tell the future grandkids!”
But how do you describe the piles of leaves from a storm-damaged oak tree? How do you explain to a grandchild who didn’t experience it the impact of sheltering in place for weeks on end? Surely, if a story is worth telling, it’s worth telling well.
Everyone has stories that need to be remembered and shared, asserts Leslie Leyland Fields in her new book, Your Story Matters. Fields, a speaker, writing teacher, and the author of twelve books, invites readers to allow their significant life events and personal faith journeys to be a witness to God’s faithfulness.
We walked through our spiritual journeys,
faced our sins, and named our hurts.
We gained the courage to share.
“We write to remember, to pass on some of what we’ve experienced in this life. Our families need to know where we’ve been and who we are. We can pass on hope as we share ways that we survived cancer, divorce, the loss of a spouse. All of this matters. But there is more. We write to find out what we don’t yet know,” Fields states. With prompts and exercises, such as mapping your spiritual journey and filling in the sentence “for once I want to tell the truth about…” Fields guides us into our past to uncover gems and polish them up for display.
Drawing from years of teaching, Fields encourages writers through the complete process of sharing their story—from finding to writing to publishing. With anecdotes from the many workshops she’s held, her own life, and clips from students, Fields bolsters our confidence and teaches skills to set the scene and keep the writing moving.
While the book stands on its own, it is enhanced by an accompanying DVD study titled “Your Story for His Glory,” which includes interactions with Ann Voskamp, author of 1,000 Gifts. I was privileged to be a part of that recording at a writer’s workshop in 2018. On a private Alaskan island, twenty of us wannabes, nerves aflutter and a bit star struck, listened to Fields’s lectures and musings with Voskamp on the process of waiting on words and finding meaning. Under their gentle shepherding, we bent over our notebooks and dissected our lives. We walked through our spiritual journeys, faced our sins, and named our hurts. We gained the courage to share, found new techniques to communicate more fully, and learned to pull the significance from the events.
Whether writing as therapy, discovery, or as a witness to God’s glory, Fields helps us tackle our inner critic, address the difficult people in our life, and find and stick to the purpose of a piece. She ends with a chapter on how to share the story with the triumphs and trials of publishing. “And what a gift it will be,” writes Fields, “to send this awakening, these crafted and compelling words on to others, that they—and we—may not pilgrim alone.”