Day 24: My Story Became Their Story

Day 24: My Story Became Their Story

Posted on September 09, 2016


I’ve always considered myself an aspiring poet. I recently found a bunch of notebooks from junior high and high school that are filled with unfinished poems that I thought were Shakespearean at the time. I mean, I literally tried to copy Bill Shakespeare’s style, his tone, not so much his iambic pentameter because I wasn’t quite that ambitious, but I was on my way to being a great writer! Except that I’m the only person who ever saw any of my poems. They continued to be poorly written and sappy and cliché for years because I didn’t have anyone to give me constructive criticism or to say STOP with the flower and moon metaphors PLEASE. 

No matter how bad my writing was, though, I had the bug. I didn’t stop, and eventually I had good people, good professors, good fellow poets to tell me I have potential, I can do this, I have something meaningful to say. The most impactful time in my writing happened during my senior year at Seattle University when I took a class called Slam Poetry, taught by the Slam Master of Seattle (the guy who produces the Seattle Poetry Slam). Yes, my fellow Midwesterners, there are places in this world where poetry is something you can be paid to produce and people will come listen to you on a weekly basis. I know, I was blown away too. 

I fell in love with spoken word poetry. I’ve always loved reading poetry out loud, but this was a whole new thing. I started performing my poems every Tuesday at the Poetry Slam, and for the first time I felt truly connected to my art, like this was what I’d been made to do.

Fast forward to a few months ago. I was coming out of an artistic lull and felt drawn to the idea of bringing poetry into musical worship at Grace. One conversation led to another and before I knew it, I had written and presented a poem specifically for a worship service. There was a ripple effect, and another member of staff was inspired to do the same, so we collaborated on another piece he had written a couple months later. 


The most important thing to come out of this story is not that I was able to be on stage or even that I felt reconnected to my art; to me, the most important part of the story is that people responded. What for me is a very personal artistic experience, upon being shared, became a communal experience. My words resonated with a lot of people in a way that goes way beyond a performance – people felt it in their beings. My story became their story. 

Grace Church has supported and advocated for the arts and those with artistic gifting from the beginning. I’ve been involved in various ways, from dramas as a kid to leading worship in junior and senior high, but being so supported and encouraged to use my writing and performing gifts as a form of communal worship with my church…that was a transformational experience. We are created by the Creator to be creative. I’m so grateful for that truth. 

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