#TellHisStory Featured Writer: Diana Trautwein
During 2013, dozens of talented writers are joining me to cheer you on in your storytelling. These guest-writers will share a few helpful words with you right here every Tuesday night, to encourage you as you #TellHisStory. (Come back after midnight to link up your story by clicking here.) And now, I’m delighted to introduce you to the wise and wonderful Diana Trautwein.
Do You Know Who You Are?
Who are you? I mean, in those deep-down places inside your spirit — who are you?
Do you know what you love and what you don’t, what you like to do and what you loathe, where you like to be and where you never want to go again? Do you know what your daydreams are and why you dream them?
How about this one: if you sat down in the quiet for 15 minutes, closed your eyes, let yourself breathe deeply, and allowed yourself to center in the presence of God, what core truth about who you are would rise to the top of that busy, fertile, distracted mind of yours?
The Delphic oracle said, “Know thyself.” William Shakespeare penned, “To thine own self be true. . .” And Jesus said, after loving God wholly, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
The longer I live, the more I know the power of these truths, most especially the words of Jesus in Matthew’s gospel. And here is why: if we want to build healthy relationships, find meaning in our work (whether inside the home or out of it), raise whole and healthy children, and follow God with our whole selves, we need to know our stuff. Not just the good stuff, ALL the stuff — the parts we hide, the parts we don’t like, even the parts that frighten us.
And we’ve got to embrace every precious piece, even the broken ones. Because as we do that, and as we offer those pieces to God’s redeeming love, then we can tell the story. You know, the story that is YOU. The story that you and God are telling together from the moment of your first gasping breath ‘til your last footfall on this planet. That is the story that must permeate the words you put on paper: the story of the broken made whole, the confusion made clear, the song sung in tune. It’s not an easy story and it’s not a perfect one. But it is your story and you are the only one who can tell it.
But to tell it, you’ve got to know it, from the inside out. Then you’ve got to love it, warts, ugly bits and all. Only then, will it read real; only then, will the truth rise to the top.
Married to her college sweetheart for over 40 years, Diana is always wondering about things. She answers to Mom from their three adult kids and spouses and to Nana from their 8 grandkids, ranging in age from 3 to 22. For 17 years, after a mid-life call to ministry, she answered to Pastor Diana in two churches where she served as Associate Pastor. Since retiring at the end of 2010, she spends her time working as a spiritual director and writes on her blog, Just Wondering. For as long as she can remember, Jesus has been central to her story and the church an extension of her family. Not that either church or family is exactly perfect … but then, that’s what makes life interesting, right?
Diana invites you to connect with her on Facebook and Twitter at @drgtrautwein.
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Thanks so much for your kind invitation in to this gracious space, Jennifer. Honored to be among the many talented writers you have featured here.
Diana, it was exactly this message that first drew me to you. You obviously communicated it in other words back then, but my spirit heard it loud and clear and it touched me in the deep places. Thank you for being true to what YOUR story is – to the truths that you’ve uncovered and laid bare as you’ve walked your unique path – and passing them on to those who come behind you. I’m better for knowing you, friend.
Thanks so much for these kind words, Kelli. And I think I can imagine that what you say is true. This message has become such a part of me, that it leaks out even when I’m not directly using words.
Thank you Diana. Such wisdom. You give so freely from a deep place of love. I need to take that fifteen minutes…again. Thank for this encouragement. Your writing, your heart is always a blessing to me.
Thank you, Dea, for these kind words of encouragement. Here’s to 15 minute – wherever you can squeeze them out!
Diana, your pastoral heart is all over this one. I’m taking your words to heart. I think perhaps we don’t really know this until we have to time to look back. And perhaps we are continually learning about who it is that we are in Christ. I hope I never stop learning.
This is so wise. Someone once told me that the anointing of God only rests on the real you. I believe that is a true statement and that it is true as far as our writing goes as well.
Wow, what a great phrase! And yes, I believe it. Catholic theologians and spiritual writers have been telling us this for centuries. I think it got a little bit lost in the Reformation and I’m glad to see it coming back in so many places. Thanks for commenting, Elizabeth.
Diane …wonderful centering words…just to sit in His presence and let Him speak who we are…and yes to see it all…some have trouble looking at the negative…some at the positive…but it takes His Grace to embrace both …and I also think this is part of the gift of age :).
Yes, it can be a gift of age, Ro. But i’ve known younger people who have done this very well, and LOTS of older people who refuse. Mostly it’s a gift of grace and a decision to work at it.
“We need to know our stuff. Not just the good stuff, ALL the stuff — the parts we hide, the parts we don’t like, even the parts that frighten us.”
These are some of the things I thought about with each foot-fall on golden carpets this past week–under tree canopies and standing on rock outcroppings and sitting by streams. Things that made me gasp for air. Yet these are our stories. But to intentionally embrace our brokenness is the only way to hold the pieces together, the only way to find hope and offer hope through the One who can redeem it all.
Amen, Sandy. Amen. And it’s hard to embrace ourselves, isn’t it? Especially those messy bits. . .
yes. yes. yes. this is a quest i am constantly on, one that is exhausting, but so rewarding when i can peel off another layer and say “aha! there i am.”
Beautifully put, Tara. As always. :>)
Diana, This was just what I needed this morning – an answer to prayer, really. The willingness to take the leap and this question. “what core truth about who you are would rise to the top of that busy, fertile, distracted mind of yours?”
I have done so much work around this through counseling, but recently have lost sight of what that would be anymore. The “voices/messages” are blocking the truth about me and I have trouble hearing anymore. I have been encouraged to join into group therapy, which scares me to death, in light of our financial situation that is still unresolved, but my husband is in firm support of this. won’t go into detail here – just to say that when I went to bed last night, I asked God to help me know this is the right thing to do for me now. This morning I read your blog first thing – and felt like God used it to tell me to just JUMP IN.
So thank you for this post.
Thanks for putting this rich comment both here and on my blog linking to this piece. Go for that group therapy, you will never be sorry.
this is brilliant Diana – shining with truth that He wants shared.
His desire is for us to love, not just those around us, but ourselves, His glorious creation. We cannot love unless we know His love.
let’s gather at the table, eating more and more and more of it that it might explode through us to all those around us!
Thank you, Karin.
Your words are graceful. Thank you for this!
“And we’ve got to embrace every precious piece, even the broken ones. Because as we do that, and as we offer those pieces to God’s redeeming love, then we can tell the story. “
Thanks so much for reading, Marcy – and for leaving kind words.
Diana, Soooo glad to find this here, and how *your* truth rises to the top like rich and nourishing cream. I couldn’t agree more. A number of Christians I’ve heard over the years say that knowing ourselves is selfish….that we need to put others first. Of course, we love others–that’s one of the major reasons we’re here. But who is the one who is doing the loving? When we truly know ourselves, warts and all, as you say, then we can relate humbly and compassionately to our neighbor. And I LOVE this quote by John Calvin: “Man never attains to a true self-knowledge until he has previously contemplated the face of God, and come down after such contemplation to look into himself.” So, I take it that the only way truly to know ourselves is in relationship to God. Like the Psalmist, we ask the Holy Spirit to shine His light and ask Him to search us. My heart can be so deceptive. I need Him to help me understand my true identity and motives. Only then can I write my true story from my true heart’s core. Bless you for these marvelous insights. And you’re one terrific author, BTW!
Thanks so much, Lynn. There are some really thoughtful theologians out there who have helped me with this kind of thinking, and many of them are Roman Catholics, Nouwen and Rohr to name two. And Eugene Peterson has also provided such rich reading. A woman scholar named Roberta Bondi wrote two really insightful small volumes of narrative theology that have helped me to ask for the Spirit’s guidance as I look at my life and my inmost self. (They’re called “Memories of God,” and “In Ordinary Time.”) One person made a picture of a circle on a whiteboard in a lecture I was attending and said, “Start on the outside and work your way into the center. As you find the center of yourself, that’s where you’ll find the clearest evidence of God’s presence in your life. Because God moves into the center of everything, including you.” I think that’s what you’re talking about in this rich comment.
It is always so enriching to “talk” with you Diana. Your authentic voice ministers and your wisdom inspires. I sometimes think the most difficult person to truly know is myself. I tend to get lost in the mistakes of the past and lose sight of the here and now. I also have that tendency to try to be what I think everyone around me wants me to be. But to find myself – my true self – in Him. It really does take those times of quiet reflection.
Yes indeed, Linda, it does take those quiet moments. And our generation has particular trouble letting go of that need to be what everyone else wants us to be – so I hear you on that one. Thanks for leaving such encouraging words everywhere you go, Linda. They (and you) are such a gift.
Diana, thank you for this! I’m going to sit here in the cafe with my steamed-milk-with-nutmeg and breathe, be still, let something true filter up from the depths, and see what it is. And then try to love it (and oh, that’s the hard part…)
You’re so right, Kimberlee! I struggle with that part all the time. But I believe that’s what we’re asked to do. Just like you love your children, even when they’re being their nastiest (you may not like them a whole lot at that moment, but you still love them), so we need to treat those inmost broken pieces. And they are often pieces of our very littlest self – we carry around wounds we got before we could even put words together. That’s why it takes quiet and intentionality to see those, to acknowledge them and to release them to God’s good care with love and attention.