Your Story Matters – Leslie Leyland Fields

Your Story Matters Leslie Leyland Fields
Your Story Matters: Finding, Writing, and Living the Truth of Your Life by Leslie Leyland Fields
Published by NavPress on April 7, 2020
Genres: Non-Fiction, Memoir, Christian Life
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Your Story Matters presents a dynamic and spiritually formative process for understanding and redeeming the past in order to live well in the present and into the future. Leslie Leyland Fields has used and taught this practical and inspiring writing process for decades, helping people from all walks of life to access memory and sift through the truth of their stories. This is not just a book for writers. Each one of us has a story, and understanding God's work in our stories is a vital part of our faith. Through the spiritual practice of writing, we can "remember" his acts among us, "declare his glory among the nations," and pass on to others what we have witnessed of God in this life: the mysterious, the tragic, the miraculous, the ordinary. With a companion video curriculum from RightNow Media, this is a "why not" book as opposed to a "how to" book. Leslie asks each of us an important question: "Why not learn to tell your story, in the context of the grander story of God?"

I write a lot. Book reviews. Ministry materials. Emails. I’ve written professionally in the past: a published book of Bible stories, a venture with NYT bestselling author Ted Dekker, and an upcoming novella. But when it comes to writing my story, I freeze. What could there possibly be in my ordinary life to write about?

Your Story Matters is Leslie Leyland Fields’ slap in the face to my pretend humility that there’s nothing in my life worth writing about. (Just a few months ago, my wife and I got on a nostalgia kick and spent three hours when we should have been sleeping recounting our shared story to the other.) The truth is, I know I have a story. But it’s my story and I want to tell it the right way. And that keeps me from telling it at all. Fields is just the person I needed to tell me to drop the pretense and just write.

Throughout the book, she also teaches us to tie our story together to God’s larger story. Writing our story is really just a recognition of the story God is writing through us, the story he is sharing with us. The book’s nine chapters go through witnessing, mapping, scene-making, gathering, reflecting, understanding, editing, ordering, and launching your story.

It’s more than just exhortation. Your Story Matters lays out practical step-by-step processes to write your story. In the chapter on mapping. Fields uses the “time for everything” passage in Ecclesiastes 3 to help writers map out their memories. There’s also a helpful chart of questions to consider at every time period to attempt to draw out memories.

Another central point is the LifeStory circle, or developing a group of people who tell and write their stories together. Sharing your story with friends is much easier than sharing it with a keyboard or with yourself. Painful memories, in particular may be more easily dealt with in community.

Each chapter ends with a list of action items, discussion questions, and examples taken from Fields’ writing workshop. It’s a very empowering way of taking the exhortation and compelling readers to put it into practice. It’s helpful to see other stories and other examples of writing. It breaks up the didactive, educational portion and just allows you to get lost in story, offering a much-needed brain break.

Above all, I appreciate Fields consistent reminder that we write our stories to remember and that remembering our past and God’s work in it is a holy endeavor. Too often, we can think that talking about ourselves isn’t appropriate. It seems prideful or showy. Fields reminds us that our story is God’s story and our stories matter—not just for ourselves, but for others.

Your Story Matters is a book that I digested in small sections over the course of a cross-country move (that could be a whole chapter, right?). It’s encouraged me to write just a bit every day of this new adventure that we’re on. Your Story Matters epitomizes the heart of what we believe here at Life is Story. Go unleash your soul’s narrative upon the world.