Holding the Story
I have loved almost everything about these moments at the front of a college classroom.
I have loved telling my students how journalists are the first eyewitnesses to history and the first people to share it with the world. How we go into State Capitol press conferences one day and roadside diners the next day, because that’s where the news got made. I love telling them how we are paid to be the hot breath on the neck of a good story.
And how one-sentence paragraphs rock.
Even when those paragraphs are sentence fragments.
I love telling my students how we are called by God, as Christian journalists, to be curious and to ask good questions and to fight for the just-right word. We are even called to be skeptical.
I have felt utter delight when a student—ruddy-cheeked with optimism—presses her latest news story, face-up, onto my desk: like she already knows she dug deep enough to find the universal truth, like she excavated a nugget of truth from the dark underside of the world.
I have loved those rare moments when a student’s story makes me cry—for all the right reasons, praise Jesus.
If you were one of my college students, you’d know by now that the next sentence in this article better be the "nut graf," because otherwise the writer will be charged with the journalistic crime of “burying the lead.” So, here it is:
I am leaving what I have loved. After this semester ends, I will no longer teach journalism students at the Christian college campus down this stretch of highway.
“Well, what will you do?” That’s the question that a friend asked me a few days ago when I broke my own news story right here at the kitchen table. She leaned in with wide eyes, wrapping her hands around a warm mug.
“I …” my own eyes darted. “Well, I will … uh…”
I stammered, trying to find words to come up with a list of important new projects that I would tackle.
I finally told my friend the truth: “What will I do? Well, I’m going to breathe. That’s what.”
The truth is, I’m not going to add anything new into that space. People need margin, a little bit of space to draw fresh air in their lungs. I had become overwhelmed and overcommitted. And I worried that my family, in particular, might suffer if I didn’t excise something soon.
I had over-yessed myself.
I knew it for sure, when my first words every morning were no longer, “Good morning, Lord,” but “Oh crap, how am I going to get everything done today?”
All those yesses were attached to good things, but the saying holds true: you really can have too much of a good thing.
Yesses can barrel down like an avalanche, not just on me, but on my husband and children who need the less-stressed, less-yessed version of me.
Back before I was an adjunct journalism professor, I was a newspaper reporter. Some days, we'd have too many stories and not enough space in the paper. They simply wouldn't fit. The editors would be forced to “hold the story.” It didn’t mean the story wasn’t good. There just wasn’t room.
This is me, holding a story.