I'm doing something kind of exciting. I'm applying for grad school. For said application, I have to write a 1000 word reflective essay. I'm sharing it here for you to read and let me know what you think.
I’d like to think of myself as a storyteller. I love to build and suspend, creating the perfect environment for the punchline, happily ever after or shocking reveal. I do this most often when I have the opportunity to share my testimony.
“I was not born in a Christian home. We went to church, but more as an obligation rather than a choice.” I always wonder why we are inclined to start here, but almost every testimony shared with a large audience begins with that same first impression. I continue on this path and open the door to the world of miscommunication, disappointment and waywardness that overtook my teens.
“My dad moved out for the first time when I was 9. We had a family discussion, full of tears and sorrow. But it was done. Dad was moving to Brunswick and mom was staying in Medina with us. He came back in 2010 when mom started showing symptoms. MS isn’t one of those diseases you can overcome, the depletion starts at it’s own pace. Often, the disease kicks into high gear after a traumatic event, which for her was flying on September 11th.” At this point when I’m sharing, I know I have the audience. I have their fullest attention. Because I’m at the point in the movie when the viewer is starting to understand why the main character doesn’t trust her new boyfriend or why she can’t open up to her friends in high school. It’s the point of the story when we choose to invest in that character. We are unknowingly and willingly analyzing her every choice. Each event throughout the movie will bring them back to the fact that her dad left her and her mom is chronically ill.
“Before high school could even begin, I decided God was cruel and unreasonable. He wasn’t a very good God if He would give one 13 year old girl all this crap. So I, as the stubborn Pollack I am, made a deal with my mom that would put church on the farthest back burner possible. I would get confirmed in the Lutheran church and never go to Sunday service again, or she could try to drag me to service every week without me finishing confirmation. No matter her choice, I would consider myself an Atheist for the next 5 years.” Now the audience members are realizing how messed up and young I was. Either they feel complete sympathy for me because I was broken and so human, or they are frustrated with me because I was arrogant and manipulative. As the storyteller, I always have to anticipate that the audience will bring their own set of experiences to the story. Whether it’s a mom that has a manipulative kid or a dad that left his family, my story will always touch a deeper part of the listener. Which is what makes telling stories so appealing to me. It’s also why I have a slight addiction to T.V. and movies, because I can connect with the story being told and the similarities or differences help me understand my own story even more.
“College would be my escape. I promised myself to be more popular, less angry and distance myself from my world in Ohio. Illinois would be the state I could remake myself. But what I found was a deeper pool of my own depression and self-doubt. Feeling unworthy and unappreciated caused me to join a Sorority that I didn’t think I would join, and date a guy with a not-so-great character, and drink an amount of alcohol that I never wanted to drink. But God was pursuing me.” I’ve brought the whole audience with me to the darkest parts of my story and now I’m going to make the turn into Light. To tell a really beautiful story, you have to bring in the audience, sustain their attention along the ups and downs, then complete the picture with perfect punctuation. To take it to a spiritual level, the Bible does just that, the old testament brings in the reader, we go up and down with the women and men throughout both books and Jesus finishes the work perfectly.
“In a matter of weeks, I was throwing up in the hallway of my freshman dorm. In the worst time of my life, I decided to go to church. Wouldn’t you know it, Christ met me there. He pursued me through the book of Jonah and revealed His deep love for me. It took me quite a while, but I began to walk in obedience and wear the new clothes given to me. God was changing me from the feet up.” It’s a sign of relief for the audience when we get to this point because we can all say together, ‘God is good’ and really mean it. I tell my story with intention, knowing that each piece is key to how good God has been to me.
“Throughout my experience in Illinois, God continued to grow in me a new spirit. I was shedding the anger and pain that I carried for those 4 pivotal years of high school. I was growing into a leader, to be used in church and serve His body. I was learning what it looked like to be intentional and engaged, addressing every situation in life with prayer and purpose. God has given me a pretty cool story, one of loss and redemption, which seems like His specialty. I try to revel in the uniqueness of my story and share it at every opportunity.” I end with the present, reminding the listener that I’m telling a story that God gave me because He wants me to share it. Inevitably, I talk with another women who can completely resonate with one or more parts of my life. Those conversations, are why I’m so willing and excited to share.So this is what I’d like to do with my life. I’d like to tell stories, about a perfect Creator, His only Son and the work of the Spirit we see in our everyday lives. I’d like to help women come to know their own story and be the champion of what God is doing in it. At the heart of this endeavor, is a girl who’s still uncovering the hurt and victory of her own story while looking for others to do the same.
So what do you think?