Melody Cline, MA, LMFT, CCTP

Who Holds Your Pen? A question of agency, identity, and relationship

May 29, 2016 By

In the story of your life, who gets to write the chapters, invite the characters to participate, and select the plotlines to be pursued? When I meet with teen and adult clients in my therapy office this often becomes a key question and it’s not as simple as it sounds. Who is holding your pen? It’s a question of agency, choice, and free will, but it’s also a question of identity and autonomy. It touches both human and spiritual relationships and seeks to determine where you see yourself in the unfolding of your own life story.

Our Families Write the First Chapters in Our Story

Of course in the beginning, we are born not yet able to manage a pen or write for ourselves. We rely on our families to write the first chapters of our story. They play a powerful role in how our story develops and teach us what they believe about how pens should be used and who gets to have one.

If You Don’t Have a Pen, Life is Happening to You

If you don’t have a pen to write with in your own story, then life is happening to you and changing that story is completely out of your control. Have you ever given your pen to another person and let them do the writing for you? Has anyone ever taken your pen from you by force or deception? How does God participate and what is His role?
Have you ever laid down your pen somewhere and just can’t find it anymore? Have you put down your pen to use a sword instead? Or are you simply stuck not knowing what to write or who to include in your story? How can you pick up your pen and start writing again?

The Power of the Pen Is the Power to Choose

So much is held in the answer to my question: Who is holding your pen? It tells me who is writing your story and where the power lies in choosing to start a new chapter.


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Melody Cline, MA, LMFT, CCTP

Melody Cline, MA, LMFT, CCTP

After working with children, teens, and parents for over 20 years, Melody completed her M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy at Wheaton College. She actively enjoys volunteer leadership, speaking in the community, and providing innovative strengths-focused therapy for children and families at Upswing Counseling in Wheaton, IL.

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