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Learning to tell stories that empower instead of hurt – Shawna R. B. Atteberry
Jul 282010

Fre-smile by Frerieke

The last couple of days have not been good. I’ve basically gone catatonic when I’ve tried to work Monday and Tuesday. Monday I went back to bed and slept all day. Yesterday I zoned out in front of the TV. Last night I grabbed my journal and began being an investigator, trying to find out what was going on with me. Then I heard “What stories are you telling yourself?” I had to stop and think for a while. These are the stories that I have been telling myself:

I can’t do this. I never finish anything. It’s too big. Who do I think I am? I will be ridiculed. This book comes out and everyone will know I am a fraud.

I decided this story needed a little reality check editing. In The Life Organizer Jen Louden says, “Delineating between facts and stories is one of the most powerful life practices you can develop.” We need to find those facts and tell a new story. Here’s my new story:

I am writing Career Women of the Bible, and I’m almost finished with the book proposal. I have finished one book proposal: Spiritual Direction 101. I have finished a book, Your Daughters Shall Prophesy: A Biblical Theology of Single Women in Ministry. So what if I’m ridiculed. Heaven knows I’ve ridiculed enough books and authors. It’s all kharma. If some of it comes back to me, I will be kind, and extend love and grace. I am not a fraud. I know what I’m writing about. I have both the education and experience. I’ve lived intimately with the women of Bible for the last few years. I know them, and they want me to tell their stories. My women need their lives written into being, so people can see who they really are instead of the empty caricatures we get at church.

I’m going to write this and hang it up where I work. Are you having trouble with stories? Are there some stories you want to share with us? May be we can help each other change the stories that no longer serving us.

One of my favorite hymns says:

“Let us bring the gifts that differ
And, in splendid, varied ways,
Sing a new church into being,
One of faith and love and praise
“Sing a New Church” by Dolores Dufner, OSB

Can we write a new story into being in splendid varied ways? Write a new community into being full of love, support, and the occasional kick in the pants?

Photo by Frerieke.

Did you know there are only eight verses in the Bible that discourage women from speaking and holding leadership positions in the church? Did you know there are thousands of verses in the Bible that tell the stories of women who were leaders in their homes, towns, and religious circles? Meet the women in the Bible who were religious & civic leaders, business women, & women who challenged both Jesus and Moses in What You Didn’t Learn in Sunday School. What else didn’t you learn in Sunday School? Find out when you buy What You Didn’t Learn in Sunday School: Women Who Didn’t Shut Up & Sit Down from Wipf and Stock Publishers or Amazon.com today.

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  11 Responses to “Learning to tell stories that empower instead of hurt”

  1. Wow Shawna! This is just what I am dealing with right now, all the old stories and how ingrained they are. It helps me to write them down labeled “thoughts” in order to get distance, like, “How dare you be an artist? Whatever you do isn’t good enough.” Instead, I can observe that I am making more art than ever before, and I love making it, so that is good enough right there. Your new story sounds really vibrant! At one point I wanted to be a theologian–I went to seminary for a couple years. I wrote a paper on the Witch of Endor, and was fascinated by her. I hope she is in your Career Woman of the Bible–I’ll have to check!

  2. this is great and you can’t know how much it helps me TODAY RIGHT NOW! Off to write a better story. 🙂

  3. I needed this. in a big way. and I cannot wait for your book to come out. how amazing!

  4. Thank you Margaret, Mary Beth, and Peggy. I’m so glad it helped. It sounds like all of us need to hear that message.

  5. I think the hardest part about writing a book is knowing someone will read it and at that point it seems one always doubts themselves. I have about 7 works in progress that I never finished because of that reason. I really need to get them back out and edit them and finish. I think hanging that message up will definitely help you. Can’t wait to read that you’ve finished that book. 🙂 You can do it!

    • @homemom3 you’re not the only one with multiple projects going. I also have 2 novels in progress. Once this proposal is finished, I’m going to finish the first novel I started. We’ll have to cheer each other on!

  6. Wow! I think this is my big issue… it is the stories I tell myself that aren’t true. That I fail too often – that I don’t ever finish things – that I let things fall through the cracks ..

    Thanks for that message! Stopping by from #31DBBB and Blogfrog!

  7. Hi Shawna! Just to affirm your story: “You are the real thing. God has chosen you to write this book. And when it is done, people will appreciate the valuable work that you do. Women will feel empowered by your words. ”

    Goodluck with your book! It will be great. 🙂

  8. As an author, I can tell you that I have felt the exact same thing. Always. And you have to write on. Persevere through. And just keep telling your story. That’s all there is to it.

    Easier said then done, I know, but this is the mantra.

    Have a great day!

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