I am grateful for the women of the Story Sessions community. We laugh. We cry. We celebrate. More than anything, we write. Today, I am honored to have my story sister, Katie Rutledge, sharing her story of pressing in to writing and living life fully. Her words remind me to keep moving forward and to not give up.
Two years ago, my world crumbled. The foundation I had trusted would always be there suddenly collapsed. I was left reeling and broken. I couldn’t even see a day into my future. I felt stuck, exhausted, and alone. Yet in the midst of that dark place God whispered that He was at work. He asked me to trust Him and to believe that He was at work even then, restoring all things.
As I walked through the crisis, people repeatedly said to me, “Write this down. You’re going to write a book about it.” I began journaling just in case that book ever came to fruition. I didn’t have a clear direction. My journals were all over the map. Some were merely a record of the day’s events, while other entries were raw, angry rants at God and the people who had wounded me.
Through much of high school and college, I kept a daily journal. I viewed each entry as a prayer, recording the things I wanted to say to God. Looking back through the entries, most were simply a listing of my day’s events with a thank you thrown in every so often. After a while I gave up journaling daily because I didn’t have time and didn’t feel like I had much worth saying.
In crisis, my journaling took on a new role and a new tone. That notebook was a safe place for me to pour out the things I was scared to say aloud. Putting words on paper in black and white made it real. Some days it took more courage than I had to write down my true feelings of anger, hurt, betrayal, and fear. I was able to write things I couldn’t say to even my closest friend or my therapist. Giving voice to those feelings helped me to acknowledge their existence, press in, and move forward. Once they were on paper, I had more freedom to let them go.
My journal was also a place to record stones of remembrance—things God spoke to me, things others said to me, events I believed to be significant. It became an anchor, something I could return to for encouragement when I needed a reminder that God had been showing up and would continue to. Sometimes I read through old entries, and I am amazed and encouraged. God has been so real and so faithful. I have come so far in the last two years.
After journaling a while, I decided to start a blog so I could share some of the ideas I was pondering and the things God was speaking to me with a few close friends. Again, the entries were raw and authentic. I didn’t hold back. Writing was therapy. I hashed out hurts, anger, confusion and a myriad of other emotions. I was able to wrestle with God and express things I was too scared to say aloud.
Over time, I started meeting other hurting women who were walking the same path. I have been able to invite them into my story and encourage them. The words aren’t just for me. It’s beautiful, and it gives me purpose.
Some days it feels like the words I need to write bubble up inside until I can’t contain them anymore. They feel God-breathed, like God is giving me words to share with the world that are uniquely mine. My hope is that I’m able to say some things these women I’ve met are afraid to say out loud. I used to worry about who would read my posts and how they would respond. Now I’m learning to trust God will bring the women who need them to each post.
Until recently, I believed I couldn’t start writing my book until I knew the end of the story. Lately I’ve been sensing God is telling me it’s time. So, I’m writing. It’s scary. I don’t quite know where to begin. But these words are healing. They help me grow. Again, I sense that the words aren’t just for me, that God is giving me a unique message I’m called to share with the world. I’m not the woman I was two years ago, and the growth I’ve experienced through writing has been a huge part of the transformation. I don’t know what will happen next, but I am very sure this is not the end of my story.
Katie is a wife, a mama to two crazy boys, a middle school teacher, and a lover of grace. She loves to ride horses, run, and be outside. She is a featured writer for Prodigal Magazine. You can read more of Katie’s writing at http://katie-moorhead-rutledge.ghost.io/ and follow her on Twitter @RutledgeKatie