Tell Your Story by Mary Folkerts

Life is a beautiful, breathtaking, awe-inspiring journey strewn with hard decisions, unexpected diagnoses, unfulfilled dreams, and broken promises. No one is exempt from hard things. The expectation of a pain-free life is unrealistic, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still be a wonderful life! 

What if there was a way to reclaim that brokenness and bring some purpose to the hurt we’ve experienced by leaving breadcrumbs of hope for others to follow? Bread crumbs that lead those who find themselves in similar circumstances to a place of understanding and maybe even peace?

The experiences we have in life always change us. They can make us better or bitter. If we let them make us better and stronger, we have an excellent opportunity to share with others what we’ve learned and how it can, in turn, help them. Sharing our journey will be the continuation of our own healing process.

When our daughter was born with Down syndrome, I found myself scouring the internet, looking for words of comfort. I wanted to know what others before us had experienced, how they dealt with the diagnosis, the best resources and therapies, and the possible outcomes. Would she reach the milestones, read books, or ride a bike? What potential did she have for a quality life? We were not the first to ask these difficult questions, and I was grateful to those who took the time to be vulnerable and share their stories. 

Our stories matter not only to the reader but also to ourselves as the writer, for honestly, writing is like therapy. We spill our struggles onto paper, and somehow with the pouring out of words, our jumbled-up emotions start to unfold into lines of thought that are easier to understand. In the same way we begin to make sense of our emotions, there is a good chance that others have struggled similarly but had no way to name or express what they felt. Being vulnerable and allowing the reader to listen in on our process takes bravery because it can expose deep pain that we would often rather mask than highlight. But real healing never happens (for us or the reader) when we care more about how we appear than being authentic.

Our struggles are not unique, even though it often feels like we are alone in them. Sharing our stories makes others feel seen and understood. It’s that “me too!” moment that gives us validation. 

Writing to meet the heart of a reader takes bravery. It means trusting that the hard things we have experienced can be used for the good of another soul. Don’t let those difficult things go to waste. The redemption of your story begins when someone else’s load is lightened in its telling.

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