I recommend writing the stories from your life.

Nearly 10 years ago I took a “storytelling” class in graduate school that inspired me to spend an entire week just chronicling all of the little episodes and anecdotes I could remember across my life at that point. I organized them into a Word document, and have used many of them as seed for articles, books, sermons and occasional blogs.

One thing I noticed this week is that I have jotted down only a few stories across the past several years. Although I no longer have the luxury of dedicating an entire week–or even an entire day–to such a pursuit, I believe it is time to flesh out some of the events, observations and challenges that have impacted me during this decade known as the 00s.

After all, much has happened since that storytelling class of August 1999. Finishing seminary. Pastoring. Parenthood. Career evolution. Loss. Gain. There is much to learn from, and maybe a few things to pass on to others.

Give this exercise a try. Sit in front of a blank computer screen or over an empty notebook, and begin jotting down your memories, pleasant and unpleasant, from as far back as you can remember. Do not evaluate, just get them down. After a while, begin to look for the threads and patterns that have composed who you are. You might be surprised at how many stories you have forgotten, how many experiences you truly have had, how many people have touched your life or taught you lessons you did not realize were lessons back in real time.

The examined life is the most rewarding journey. Writing your own stories is its own reward in many ways.