Have you ever asked yourself who will be poorer for not knowing your stories?
Your stories are important. They can offer wisdom and hope and character and faith to your readers—stuff they need to know!
Today Cavin Harper challenges us to take our roles seriously and be intentional about writing our stories for the benefit of our kids, grandkids, and great-grands. He asks us, “Have you written it down?”
Have You Written It Down?
by Cavin Harper,
Founder and President of Christian Grandparenting Network
Let this be written for a future generation,
that a people not yet created may praise the Lord.
Why am I who I am today? What forces have shaped my life and the way I see the world?
These questions are not only important to me, but to those who follow me. My stories are my family’s stories, but, even more than that, they are part of God’s story and the legacy that will be left for future generations. Our stories tell those who come after something about why they are the way they are and reveal the tapestry of God’s sovereign hand woven in our stories. So, why do we not take storytelling more seriously?
Who am I?
Obviously, as a Christian—a follower of Christ—the Gospel has profoundly shaped who I am and how I view the world. Still, things like why I love cornbread and beans smothered in ketchup, for example, can be explained only by my story as a member of the Harper family. The stories each of us have experienced from birth shape us and form the bigger story that comprises the legacy we leave to the generations that follow … if they know the stories.
The Psalmist has made it very clear that we are to tell the stories of God’s praiseworthiness and faithfulness, His power and the wonders He has done (Psalm 78:4). But it is our personal stories that bring context to God’s bigger story as it is played out through our family tree. And part of telling those stories involves writing them down.
Our Stories are Treasures
The importance of writing our stories to preserve our legacy is the subject of Lana Rockwell’s book, Passing On a Written Legacy. Lana believes the stories of our lives written for others to read help our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren gain some valuable perspective about who we are as members of our family. They also help us tell the story of God’s faithfulness and ongoing work in our lives, both the good times and the bad. In her opinion, these stories are “treasures from God, a special gift from God for another generation.”
So, what keeps us from writing these stories down? Lana believes there are any number of reasons, all the result of misinformation or faulty thinking. We don’t think we can write well enough, or we don’t think we can remember anything worth telling. First of all, we’re not writing to get on the New York Best Seller list. Just start writing something and see what happens. Stop making excuses. This is about telling what you know so another generation may benefit from it.
Secondly, ask yourself who loses if you don’t tell your stories. How many of you feel you lost something important because your grandparents or parents never preserved some of their stories that tell who they were and maybe something about ourselves? Don’t make the same mistake for the generations following you.
Thirdly, order a copy of Lana’s book, Passing On a Written Legacy, and make the decision to give it a try. And in case you’re not sure if it would be worth your while, listen to my podcast with Lana on Family Impact. I think she may convince you to take the plunge. What have you got to lose, except all that your family could gain?
Thanks, Cavin, for sharing your post with us. I haven’t bought Lana’s book yet, but plan to do so soon. It looks like a valuable resource for all the memoirists here at SM 101.
Originally published as Have You Written It Down? Reprinted here by permission.