Josh Irby

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I Have a Story to Tell [Open Letter Second Place]

Editor’s Note: This post is written by Heather Patterson, who won second place in the Open Letter Challenge writing contest. The following letter is a response to An Open Letter to You from the Rest of the World. You can connect with Heather on facebook or read the original post on her blog.

Photo Credit Magenta Rose (Creative Commons)

Photo Credit Magenta Rose (Creative Commons)

Dear Rest of the World,

I got your letter today, on a day when I needed to hear it the most. I needed to hear that you need me. That you listen for my voice.

I needed to hear that when it’s not there, there is something missing.

I’m not sure how it happened, how I grew to believe that my voice wasn’t important, that my story didn’t matter.

As a young girl I was told often that I could be anything that I wanted to be, that I could change the world.  That I could change you.

But along the way I stopped believing.

And I need to tell you that I am sorry.

I’m sorry that I lost my voice but I shouted and screamed for so long that I simply lost the ability to make a sound.  I’d open my mouth and my heart and my life and nothing came out.

And somewhere in the midst of being silent I think my voice came back but I’d been quiet for so long that I forgot how to use it.

And when I was able to make a sound, I thought it wouldn’t matter.

I decided that my point of view was somehow lessened by my view point. I’ve looked out my window onto the same Midwest ground for every day of my life.  It’s not a life of glamour or culture or thrill.  In fact, most days it’s just the opposite.

I’m sorry that I concluded that the sum of your whole was nothing more than your loudest and ugliest parts. I’ve looked around and saw the same things that you have, the same things that have hurt you and to be honest, it scared me.  It felt like there was nothing that I could do that would ever make a ripple in the sea that I often felt like I was drowning in.

But today you said you still need my story.  And for some reason, I think it might actually be true.

You were right, I do have a story to tell.  It’s a better story to tell than the one I was given and I’m afraid that if I don’t tell my story someone will tell it for me and they would surely get it all wrong.

They would start my story with words like Autism and Special Needs and it they would define it in light of our boy’s diagnosis instead of in light of the Divine.  And in focusing on that they would miss out on the one of the greatest stories ever told.  It’s a story about a boy and a girl who were one day given the thing they had only ever dreamed of in the first cries of a newborn baby, just to realize a few years later that the dream they had simply wasn’t big enough to hold all that God had planned for them.

And maybe for the first time in a long time or maybe for the first time in forever, I really do believe that it is a story that you need to hear.

So thank you. Thank you for reminding me that my story matters and I’d like to make you a promise. If you promise to never stop telling me that you hear me, I promise you that I will never stop believing that I need to be heard.  I won’t give up on you, please don’t give up on me.  There is too much at stake for either of us to fail.




Open Letter Cover 2

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