Why Should I Share My Story?

tell your story

Over one year ago, when Darrell and I started Prodigal Magazine, we did it because we wanted to hear your stories.

We had already heard so many of them — in the body of an e-mail, on a Skype call, at a conference in Chicago, in our car, or over a wobbly table at a coffee shop — and we couldn’t help but be moved by the way stories shed light and gave life and knit people together into a community, even when those people had never met.

Since then our journey with Prodigal has had it’s share of twists and turns (like any good story) and there have been moments we wondered if we might have lost our way, but no matter what else happened, we never got tired of hearing your stories.

It is your stories that made our job worth doing, that made it worth showing up everyday.

Why sharing stories matters.

There is something innately human about sharing of our stories.

One of the things I find so compelling about sharing stories is how it benefits both the teller, and the hearer. Recently I was working on a project where I shared a story from the first months of marriage to Darrell. Suddenly, I saw the situation in a new way. I remember sitting at my computer, wide-eyed, a little bit shocked at how I could have missed something so obvious this whole time.

I love how the simple act of sharing my story can help me find meaning in my story.

It can lead me to healing, grace and even forgiveness.

I can’t tell you how often I read or hear a story from someone else, and am moved in a similar way. Someone shares about a divorce, or a loss, or a heartbreak or a conflict between friends and suddenly I’m inspired to see my life, and the lives of others, differently.

This is the power of sharing our stories.

What if I’m scared to share my story?

The truth is, I’m pretty sure all of us are scared to share the stories worth sharing.

It’s easy to share a funny story about something that happened to us at a dinner party, but when we share what that story meant to us, what we learned from it, what it taught us or told us about ourselves or how it stirred something deep inside of us — that is scary.

We’re afraid people will judge us, they’ll reject us, they’ll start rumors about us, or they’ll say mean things to us. And you know what? Maybe they will.

But this is the risk we take for connection. There is no such thing as love without vulnerability. There is no such thing as community without transparency.

And no one else in the whole world has your story. If you don’t share your story with us, who will?

Will You Share Your Story With Us?

This is why we’re excited to announce a new turn in our story. We are re-opening submissions at Prodigal. It’s been almost a year since we had to close submissions due to lack of resources, and ever since then we’ve longed for this day. Needless to say, we’re a little excited!

We would be so honored if you would share your story with us.

Don’t worry. You’ll still continue to hear from your favorite Prodigal writers. Our featured team isn’t going anywhere. But there will also be stories from people just like you, people all over the world who come to the site and are inspired by something that is shared.

People who think to themselves: I have a story to share, too!

Is that you? Submit your story! We can’t promise we will publish every one, but we can promise we will read every one.

Thank you friends. Your story matters to us.

[Photo: Garrett Gill, Creative Commons]

Confessions of a Fence-Sitter

Yesterday I wanted to give up on Prodigal Magazine.  

Not because I can’t take the heat of criticism, or because I’m not willing to admit there may have been in the past, or be currently, holes in our process, or even my discernment when it comes to posting certain articles over others. It isn’t because I agree with one person or position, and disagree with another. In fact, it’s just the opposite.  

It’s because, somehow, strangely, I see the value in what everyone is saying.  [Read more...]

Is It Possible to Disagree And Still Be Friends?

When Ally and I took over Prodigal Magazine just over a year ago, it was important for us to build a safe community for people sharing their story. We both had come to understand the power held in someone’s story because it had changed and shaped each of us as individuals before we met.  

That said, I have been grieving for the last three months as this platform continues to grow. I can’t count the amount of times that I felt overwhelmed by the responses in tweets, comments and the like. I have often wondered if the amount of effort that we were putting into Prodigal Magazine was paying the return on our investment of time and emotional energy.

I have wanted to throw in the towel more than anyone could know.  [Read more...]

Stop Waiting To Write Your Book

Just about a year ago I was talking to my friend Matt about his dream to write a book. He explained to me that he had been thinking about it for a long time, but didn’t have the time to do it right now.

He was a teacher, after all, and had a life, church and family outside of even that.

How could he possibly keep up with his blog, his life and also write a book?

It was all just a little un-realistic for him at the time.

He told me that in a couple years, maybe, when things slowed down he would be able to write the book. Ironically, the very week I had just read a blog post from Ben Arment called The Best Time to Write Your Book was Last Year.

The Next Best Time is Now.

Armed with the confidence in this post, I decided to encourage Matt to write his book right now — to not wait for a better time because a better time would never come.

Without my even knowing, Matt took my advice and began to write. A few weeks later he sent me the first draft of his project, and I was blown away with what I saw.

It was the beginning of Matt’s dream. His book was coming to life.

Over the next few weeks Matt, with some coaching from Ally and me, began to flesh out his book project. 15,000 words became 20,000 words, and 20,000 words become 30,000 words.

It was exhilarating because I could see my friend’s dream coming to life, but I could also see the role we were playing in it. The book was his, but we were calling it out of him, giving him the structure and encouragement he needed to make his book a reality.

After a year of hard work, and the partnership of some really good friends at Moody Publishers, Matt’s book is set to be published April 1, 2013.

Matt’s book wouldn’t exist if he kept waiting, and neither will yours.

I know that you have been thinking about writing a book for a long time, and I know it’s scary. You, like Matt, keep telling yourself that there will be a better time, later. You know when the kids grow up, or when things aren’t quite so busy at your job.

Or maybe you are waiting until you get picked from a publisher. You are doing your best to look good for them, or to prove that you have what it takes to write a book.

The problem with all of this, is that they can turn into excuses and your book will never happen. It will be a dream that, at the end of your life, will still just be a dream. Not a reality.

Writing a book is hard. I know that.

That is why we have created Prodigal Press.

We know that you don’t know where to start, or where to finish, but we can help. We’ll walk you through every step of the process, providing all the resources you need along the way. In one year, you’ll have a book — your book — in your hand.

Check out what Prodigal Press can offer you and your book. Next April you could be holding your book.

This is the year you become an author. Stop waiting and make it happen.

Have you always wanted to write a book? What are you waiting for?

Dear Reader, I Owe You An Apology

Dear Reader,

We had to remove today’s article from the website due to an oversight.

Despite differences of opinion, one of our biggest values is that we share ideas through the medium of story.

Today’s post didn’t do that, and I should have noticed that before we posted it and for that, I’m really sorry.

As an editor, I read and edit all the content before it publishes here each day. So I take full responsibility for the fact that today’s post didn’t promote that value.

It’s an inconvenience to the writer, to those who invested themselves in the comments, to our readers, and to us, but I’m willing to take the hit in order to protect what we’re trying to build — a place that is safe for people to share stories.

I hope you’ll forgive me for this mistake.


Allison Vesterfelt

Managing Editor

[Photo:Otäcon, Creative Commons]