Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What to Leave Out ?

I suspect that one of the most difficult aspects of telling one's story is in deciding what to leave out.  When I taught ethics classes in a business setting, students would come to me with ethical dilemmas and ask how much they needed to disclose in order to be "honest."

I would tell them that "you do not have to tell all you know in order to tell the truth" - with the exception, of course, of deliberate omissions which slant the telling in such a way as to create a falsehood.

Some of you may recall the illustration I learned as a young woman about two ways to tell a story.  It is like serving potatoes freshly dug from the garden - you can serve them with the dirt on or with the dirt washed off.  I generally prefer my spuds washed up a little.

Thus, as I contemplate telling you my story, I am deliberating upon what to leave out.  Admittedly there isn't a lot of dirt to wash off, but like every human on the planet, there are days I would rather forget ever happened, words spoken I would give anything to take back, and mistakes for which I paid dearly.

But, to misquote Shakespeare , discretion is the better part of valor, and frankly our society has not been improved upon, in my opinion, by the degree of over sharing that goes on.  The TMI (too much information) generation seem to have no boundaries, no sense of discretion.

A Scottish proverb says, "Open confession is good for the soul."  Yes, but how open is appropriate?

One of the people I most admired in business, rarely raised her voice or weighed in with her considerable authority.  She would simply get a look, and say with some asperity, "That simply isn't appropriate to the situation."  Case closed.  It privately made me smile, that sense of propriety, which was nearly always right on the mark.

And thus, I ponder ... what to include and what to omit.  What to highlight and what to leave in the shadows.  It is difficult to know.  I hope that feedback from readers, as we go along, will give me better clarity as to what is providing some meaning or sense of value in the telling.

So tomorrow, or perhaps later tonight if I cannot sleep, we may continue my story. It may turn out to be a tale best left untold.  But we won't know until I tell it, will we? 

Next chapter:  Church Girl Meets Bad Boy
Until next time ...Marsha

Question:  Have you ever struggled with how much to disclose and what to keep private while still being authentic with your story?


  1. I know what you mean. I have a life story that has been difficult to live and even now difficult to talk about. Every situation is different and there is a time to speak and a time to keep silent. The Holy Spirit puts a check in our spirit or the prompting to speak and has never failed to give the the courage to as directed. There have been times I plunged ahead and should not have. There have been times I should have spoke and did not. By and large.....go with your gut feeling. That is usually the Holy Spirit directing you.

  2. I always struggle with that. I so want to tell a good story, but darn it - sometimes you just can't. At least not on the internet.

  3. Allllll the time. And then I go to my favorite way to make a decision...'First Do No Harm'....

    Looking forward to 'The Rest Of The Story', lol!

  4. While clicking "blogs I follow" of those who follow my blog - I found yours.

    Interesting much to divulge.

    I have told my story - several times - even going so far as to publishing it in my blog. And in fact, am currently writing it down in hopes that it will one day be published. And now am faced with the dilemma of wondering what the consequence may be should our nine-year old daughter ever hear my story. ...there are times when I think stories are better left untold - yet how does one use ones story to impact others if the story is never told?

    I have to believe that the Holy Spirit will use my story to speak into others lives. And also trust that my daughter will be "protected" until the time is right.

  5. Linda - Thank you for those wise words.

    Karen - You are so right!

    Sush - Right on the mark - with first do no harm.

    Deb - Welcome! Thank you for your feedback and I agree that the Holy Spirit will guide, whenever we are willing to follow.

    Blessings to all the above.

  6. I always ask myself that. I teach middle school English, and I find the kids have a very difficult time leaving out any aspect of a narrative because they feel they are betraying the authenticity of their story. I agree with Sush- first, do no harm.

  7. I am stuck at that point in my story. Should I leave out the next part or not? Sush has a good rule "do no harm".

  8. It can be difficult to tell the story truthfully. However, I always try to remember to not dishonor another when I share my story. I may want to share something someone did to me but it might not be appropriate to share since they may not know how hurtful it was to me. I'd hate for them to read it on a blog.