Names and numbers hang pretty on the handle of my bag, these cards spreading out like a beautiful fan from the Orient. The collection is a souvenir from my weekend with two-hundred women who have a passion for documenting the nuances of life in their photographs of beautiful rooms, in the patience of hunching over a piece of pottery, in a string of pearly words, in a kitchen stocked with healthy food, in fashion that makes a statement, in creative plans for a homeschooling unit, in parenting even through weakness.

Sometimes when we find ourselves an audience to such a beautiful array of people, we get a little ahead of ourselves, wondering if we should be capturing the whole of the beauty, packing all these passions into our writing.

I feel this in social media too when others so consistently capture their family’s daily history in every format available. I wonder if I’m being lax, if I’m going to regret letting some of these moments slip by without gluing them in the virtual scrapbook.

Then I stumble on a little verse, a side-thought really. I get a view into the predicament of John, best friend of the Word made flesh, one of the few to record the nearness of Jesus, the story of the miracles, the burgeoning crowds, the teaching, the run-ins, the quiet escapes.

When ink settled on papyrus and John prepared to round out the story of all stories with one last thought, this was what he had to say: “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”

And he said something like it a few paragraphs earlier: “There are also many other signs and miracles which Jesus performed in the presence of the disciples which are not written in this book.”

John’s poetic disclaimers about his own weighty task remind us of our limits and give us freedom to be selective in what we take down.

In our telling of where the Gospel story meets ours, there are so many things we could be documenting. We have to be selective. But how do we whittle down the right story from all the stimuli?

I had my notes jotted down for this post weeks ago: When choosing what to write, you’ve got to start with what brings you to the tissue box or the punching bag.

And then I heard it again from Emily Freeman at Influence: “Listen to your questions. Listen to what makes you cry. Here is where your heart beats strong, what makes you come alive. Listen to your play, your craziest ideas, that brave lyric or that odd first chapter.”

We all write from our own angles and together we tell the whole story. Matthew wrote to the Jews to prove Jesus was the Messiah. Mark wrote to the Romans and recorded Jesus in action as ministering servant. Luke reported to intellectual Greeks in careful journalistic style. John wrote as an eyewitness and close friend, bringing us beautiful phrasing of how “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Each wrote from their own passion and for their own audience and our understanding is all the richer for it.

When Adrienne sat next to me at dinner and shared her heart for telling the stories of the women at a local mission, she had to pull her glasses off to pat her tears away. Nat almost got to crying again when she thought back on how she’d shared her faith story and talked about blogging beyond yourself at a meetup in her region. Blair choked up on stage when she showed us the results of The Pixie Project and shared the stories of six women whom she and her readers had helped bring out of the Ethiopian sex industry through the work of fashionABLE. I got misty-eyed with them. The message came through that much more powerfully with their passion behind it.

Our tears and our fists show us what’s important to us, and they give us a clue about where to start with our pens and keyboards. When it comes to choosing what to write, start with what makes you cry.

{Take a few minutes to look through your planner, journal, email, or even your social media accounts and reflect on the last few months. What things have made you cry? What things have made you angry? What things have made you smile? Make a list. Choose one item and free-write a page about it. Comment below about what you discover and be sure to include a link if you choose to share publicly.}

This is Day 8 of my series 31 Days ~ Preserve Your Story, linking up with The Nester’s annual 31 Days of Change.

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