“Would anyone like to volunteer to share a four minute story? We’ve got prizes”. The MOTH presenter, *John, enticed. I looked greedily at the stack of books he plopped down on the podium. Always a sucker for free literature and immediately raised my hand. Me. The young woman who can sometimes barely look a person in the eye. Me. The young woman who freezes mid conversation with a complete stranger. Me. The young woman who used to keep her eyes planted on the sidewalk. Me. The young woman who immediately races past chatty church folk to get to the seat in the farthest corner, usually hidden by a concrete pillar. Me. The young woman who stayed silent at staff meetings even though a tornado of thought and ideas were swirling around her head.
“Awesome! Come on up!” John eagerly welcomed me to the front of the room. The story I picked was random; an anecdote about my time working at a small movie theater walking distance from my house. God gifted me the title on the spot “Well Spoken”.
I’ll tell you the tale of “Well Spoken” in another blog post. What mattered to me was not the story I told, but that God blessed me with the courage to tell this particular story in the first place. As far as stories go, there were far more compelling and poignant ones in my repertoire. And I really wanted the bell hooks (RIP) title “All About Love”.
After I finished my story I received enthusiastic claps and John smiled and said “That was awesome, you finished in 4 minutes exactly!” He continued “There’s so many ways to expand on that story. Great Job!”.
I grabbed my literary prize and two new friends I made at the MOTH workshop congratulated me on telling my story.
What’s wild is that I wasn’t even supposed to be at that storytelling workshop in the first place.
Let’s rewind to the night of June 17th.
With Juneteenth approaching, I felt like I needed to commemorate the true “independence day” (loosely independent) for Black American. The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture , a historic institution that specializes in archives of Black history, was holding a literary festival in honor of Juneteenth. I browsed the list of events and The MOTH storytelling workshop immediately caught my attention.
The MOTH is a non profit organization that specializes in oral storytelling. The organization hold various storytelling workshops, story slams (people compete) and community sharing of stories. The premise is to tell a mostly unedited, true story in 5 minutes or less. The stories can range from a person’s first kiss to the time they were chased by rabid monkeys in the rainforest. Each story should be unique to the person, raw and exposing in some aspect.
I was excited to see a free workshop and I quickly clicked the link to register. To my disappointment I saw there were no more spots left and no where to put your email on a waitlist. Bummed I prayed, “Lord, if it’s you will, I would really, really, super really like to attend this workshop”.
Well, you know the rest of the story.
If this was me from two years ago, I would have sulked and thought, “oh well, maybe next time”. But I shot my shot. I strolled into the workshop 30 minutes before the start time and asked another attendee if she knew if there was a waitlist. She responded she wasn’t sure, but encouraged me to stay.
Because I was bold and took a chance, I met two new friends, both aspiring writers. I learned about different storytelling techniques. We listened to one of the presenters tell a compelling story about his time in Paris, France.
If I hadn’t approached that brightly lit room, walls covered with pictures of smiling black and brown faces, in the basement of the Schomburg, I would not be telling you this story right now.
God wants us to be bold.
If you look at His creation, the entire planet is a bold statement of his majesty! We are told to fan into flame the gift of God that is is in us (2 Timothy 1:6). I boldly prayed to get into that MOTH workshop and 1 John 5:14 was fulfilled in that moment; “ And this confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us”
One day, I’ll work up to the MOTH storytelling stage. I truly believe God has placed an abundance of stories for me to share. Perhaps He can use my stories to spark someone else into sharing their own story.
Because we all have a story to tell. And we have one incredible Author who writes our own.
Resources: The MOTH: https://themoth.org/
Bible Verses Courtesy of: https://www.biblelyfe.com/blog/bible-verses-about-boldness