You have words. We all do. Life words that tell who we are and what made us that way. When told right and true, sans masks, we share our stories with one another.
We desperately need your story. You also need to tell it. For us. For you.
Even when the story offered has brought you pain. A suffering so deep you never thought you’d find a way to share it with the world. You’ve barely told yourself this story.
I don’t believe you need to shout these tales from the rooftop most of the time. That’s business between you and God. Maybe you could tell it privately to a close friend or paid professional. Or write it down in a private journal only your eyes will ever see. Perhaps your story should come to us in the form of an article or a book. If you are more inclined to drawing or painting or creating something with your hands, tell your story that way.
When you tell a story of this nature, its power over you is released somehow. Maybe not overnight, but in time as you tell the story piece by piece and sit with the grief and the hard, it starts to find redemption. Freedom! You’ve faced the very scariest thing and emerged better for it. That extreme hardship did not get the best of you.
Which leaves the best of you for the rest of the world.
Further, this story loses the grip it might have had on future generations. We still must rely on God’s grace to rescue us from unwanted consequences. But it opens the doors wide for grace to come in because that doorway isn’t blockaded by secrets anymore. We have hope.
Even when the story tells of your great happiness and success. You worry it might seem like bragging or make you look narcissistic. But really, it gives us permission to go and do likewise. We live bigger lives because you show us how.
Even when the story doesn’t seem like it’s worth telling. An everyday life of getting the kids to school, going to work, running errands, cooking dinner, doing more laundry than you ever thought humanly possible. These things all show up in our story too! And if we look closely, we can see God at work there. Sending birds to our window, a slight breeze through the screen doors, the smells coming from the stovetop or the grill, a phone call from a friend to interrupt the monotony. OK, it’s probably a text.
There’s so much me too in every story. We discover it all the time. These places where your story and mine intersect. We feel a little less alone in the world. We make lasting connections. Also, where our stories differ, it lets me learn more about how to live well in community.
Even when the story has holes in it. Missed opportunities, love lost, or times when you feared you’d lost your faith for good. Every story has disappointment and failure in it. Wilderness living. Wrestling for blessings as Jacob did. The older I get, and perhaps a bit wiser, I’ve started paying special attention to these parts of a story. They are where true change can happen. We learn perseverance and a richer trust in God. We learn the difference between not now and not ever. We realize ways to keep going regardless of our feelings. When you tell us these chapters in your story, we remember ours too. Together, we see God’s faithfulness here perhaps more than any other time.
Here’s the real beauty of story. When we live into it, not holding anything back, God gets all the glory. He takes every part of us and works through it. Just like he did in the beginning, when He created the heavens and the earth, He calls the work in us good. Good isn’t perfect. All of our problems don’t magically disappear. We won’t forget. But a transforming takes place. It becomes more about Him and how He can use all of our story. Less about us. More about the Redeemer of all the things. We can join the saints in singing: This is my story. This is my song. Praising my Savior all the day long.