Sharing the Rough Draft

My story is changing. A dramatic shift in the plot. A change in setting. New characters. New descriptions for current characters. Word usage and verb tenses have changed. The topic of dialogue is changing.

As another section of the story of my life is beginning, the transition from one section to the other is proving chaotic and stressful. No smooth transitional phrases, sentences and paragraphs. Just messy, misplaced words and clauses. The structure of this new section is weak. Concrete verbs and nouns are lacking. And sentence fragments are in abundance. None of this eliminates the stress because I like order. The kind of order including sentences with subjects, verbs and modifiers in their proper places. The kind of order with action verbs and strong adjectives and adverbs. The kind of order with appropriate word usage and transitional thoughts between paragraphs and ideas.

However, the story of life isn’t like a perfectly crafted book. I can’t control the direction of the plot or the cast of characters or the setting. I make choices which impact where the plot heads, who becomes part of my story and where I live out my story; but ultimately God is in control. He is writing my story, complete with all of the twists and turns, and I know He sees the final draft, not the messy rough draft, which I see.

So if my story is messy, than why share my story with others? Why give people a glimpse into the chaos of transitioning from one section of my life to a new section of life? Why put my thoughts and fears on the internet for others to read? Why not wait until the story has been edited, until the structure is solid and until the words are final?

I don’t wait; however, because when I share my story, I remember I’m not alone. Others who have served overseas can relate to my thoughts on adjusting to a new culture or adjusting back to my passport culture. Women who have survived a major transition encourage me with their stories and wisdom. Some of the words in my story – crisis, home invasion, rape, counseling – aren’t ones everyone can relate to, and I’m thankful for that. However, when I hear from women who can relate, empathy and understand permeate my heart.

When I share my story, I am able to encourage those who are a page or two behind me in their own stories. My experiences aren’t unique to me. My transition from one section of life to another is a transition everyone will experience in some form or another during her life, and by sharing my messy transition I allow others to find hope for future transitions.

When I share my story, God receives the glory because the paragraphs in desperate need of editing are transformed into beautiful paragraphs. A story starts with a rough draft, not a perfect, final one. As I reflect on journal entries and blog posts, I see where editing has taken place and how characters and settings which didn’t make sense at first now make perfect sense in light of the following chapters. I continue to share my story because writing about the vague setting and plot and time frame helps me to process my story, to find the strong descriptors and the definite word usage in the midst of the chaos, to focus on the One who sees the final draft.

God is working in each of our stories. He’s turning the messy rough drafts into incredible final drafts. As we build community through sharing our stories with each other, we are able to encourage each other and to give Him glory.

Share your story with us in the comments below. What characters and settings are unknown or unexpected? How can we encourage and pray for you as you live out your story this week?

12 Comments

  1. Kim September 22, 2015

    A beautiful post Laura! Love this analogy of the difference between a rough draft and the final draft 🙂 And you are so right that sharing your story encourages others and glorifies God! Thank you for sharing.

    1. Laura September 22, 2015

      Kim,

      Thank you so much for your kind words! 🙂

  2. Jan September 23, 2015

    I am not happy with the rough draft of my current life chapter.  I did not want one of my kids to be several months into gut-wrenching therapy (with more to come), and knowing it’s been EIGHT YEARS of depression and anxiety issues for her.  In our happy little overseas worker family.  I get scared and discouraged.  My spiritual director talked to me about drinking the cup God has given to ME.  And it’s true.  This is part of what God has for me, not just her, and I desperately want to be at peace even while living with reality.  I’m working on it…

    1. Laura September 23, 2015

      Jan,

      Thank you for bravely sharing where you are at in your story right now. Praying for you, your child and your entire family.

  3. Monica F September 23, 2015

    Laura,  thank you for this beautiful post.  In the last two years, several friends have encouraged me to ‘write my story’ for others, but I have been so reluctant to do so.  In our fifteen years of ‘overseas’ work I have journaled, and have typed up short stories of our life in the hopes that our children might want to read them someday.  Yet, I can’t wrap my mind around sharing them or why anyone else would be interested!  Your post really encouraged me, and spoke to my heart.  I have also heard the whispers of, ‘write it down and share it’, but have allowed the busyness of life to nab away the time I could sit and write- especially with three young kids in tow!  Not really sure where to start, but all I can say is that I have appreciated all of the VA writers and the way you share your stories.  I hope to learn!

    1. Laura September 23, 2015

      Monica,

      Thank you for reading. 🙂 And we would all love to hear your words, your stories! Praying God will give you wisdom and courage as you serve and find time to share your stories.

  4. Wesley September 23, 2015

    Laura,

    Thank you for sharing today! As someone who thinks through writing, I loved your analogy. Your observation that  “When I share my story, God receives the glory because the paragraphs in desperate need of editing are transformed into beautiful paragraphs” really stood out for me. In the sharing it is a chance to remind ourselves that Christ is along the way with us in each of these journeys.

    I also agree that sharing our stories builds such community … if only for the courage to share more, to shatter the isolation with a “me too.”

    And thanks for continuing to share your transition! Hearing someone a couple months farther along on the re-acclimation journey gives me good perspective. Thanks for being open to sharing your story as God leads.

    1. Laura September 23, 2015

      Wesley,

      I’m glad you could relate to my analogy. 🙂 Praying for you as you continue to transition; it’s definitely a process! 😉

  5. T September 23, 2015

    Hey, Laura!  I don’t know you personally, but because of your vulnerable writing, I feel like I know you (after reading some of you here months ago, I went for more on your website).  I have always had a huge fear of being attacked.  Your posts and courageous sharing have pushed me to wrestle with that, and consider that there could be recovery afterwards, if it did happen to me/the women I look after in our city.  Thank you.

    1. Laura September 23, 2015

      T,

      I’m so thankful God has used my story to help and encourage you. Praying He will continue to give you peace as you serve Him.

  6. Emily September 23, 2015

    Thanks for sharing your story. If I am honest, I hesitated to post this. In fact, I’m hesitant to share our story a lot of the time. Mostly because I don’t like a lot about it right now. There is just so much I wish I could change about the story that’s happening right now – a good friend died recently, another has gotten cancer, and we’ve been in the process of raising our financial support for over a year now. (We’re at the point in support raising where people give us sad looks when they ask if we’ve finished yet and the answer is still “no.” -_-) Not to say that things aren’t good, too – we have so many beautiful, wonderful things to be thankful for. But the story right now is hard- and when I do share it, people get awkward. And then I feel awkward. I feel awkward typing this. But this is where God has us now. This is the story He is writing now. I’m in the middle and just trying to be faithful while it unfolds.

    1. Laura September 23, 2015

      Emily,

      Thank you for bravely sharing where you’re at in your story. Yes, the sad looks when people hear you’re still raising support – I’ve been there too! And I understand the awkwardness as well, and I’m sure others reading this do too. Praying for you as you grieve the loss of your friend and continue to be faithful in the midst of the difficult.

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