Wednesday, January 15, 2014

It's MY story (and I want to hear yours)

Telling my story has never been easy. And it’s not because I have some crazy secrets I’m trying to hide. More so, it’s always been a struggle of feeling like my story isn’t anything special. I wouldn’t want to waste anyone’s time.  

It never fails when people gather to tell their stories. Someone always recalls the remarkable transformation God has done in their life. There’s the crazy “look-at-how-my-life-was-going-straight-to-the-pit-of-hell” before account followed by the lightning bolt moment that God used to set them on “the straight and narrow”. I’m left in awe. After all, God is amazing and the transformation He works is remarkable. The problem was that I was left pining because I didn’t view my story as anything special.

So, flashback with me to a moment where we gathered in a circle to share our stories...

I recounted how I had always known and believed the Good News of the Bible. At least I couldn’t remember any real “come to Jesus” moments in my life. Oh, I had tried to create them… and there are distinct memories of events that propelled me closer to God… it’s just that I didn’t delve into the life of gangs or prostitution or even partying for that matter. (Can I just say that I now know I’m crazy to have longed for an account like that in my story?!)

Don’t get me wrong: It is evident that God has changed me. My life is different because of Him. It’s just that it is less about how my life was transformed from what it used to be and more of an account of how my life is different than what it could be. He didn’t save me from a past of wretchedness (at least not to the world’s standards… I have my sins… we all do). He simply saved me from myself and the damage I could have done because He grabbed a hold of my heart at a young age.

This song by Sue C. Smith entitled “I Came to Love You Early” basically tells my story.

I felt sometimes I didn’t have a story I could share.
I wasn’t rescued from a past destroyed by dark despair.
O, but Jesus, I have memories of the times that we’ve been through
And I wouldn’t trade one moment of growing up with You.

I came to love you early,
I came to know you young,
You touched my heart, dear Jesus,
When my life had just begun.

I gave you my tomorrows
And a childish heart of sin
And You’ve saved me from a lifetime
Of what I might have been.

When I finished sharing my story, I was left in a bit of shell shock. One of the men listening (who happened to be leading the church we were attending at the time) informed me that he didn’t believe me. Apparently, the only person he ever heard that type of account from that he actually believed was Ruth Bell Graham. And he only believed that story because… well, she was Ruth Bell Graham.

Here I was, deciding to give up the desire to make my story into something more exciting than it is. No need to embellish. Tell it just the way it is… and I did… and I was told it wasn’t good enough… by a pastor. (Yep… that took some time to work through.)

I still shake my head over it. But I’ve learned from it. There will never be a time that I listen to the story of another and tell them they need to change it. Never. Ever. It’s there story and it’s important for them to share it. So is mine… just the way God wrote it.

Every story is different. No two stories are exactly alike. And they all need to be shared.

We’ve been going through a series at our church on this very topic. There’s a great site called I am Second that you can watch more accounts of what God is doing in the lives of others. Listening to testimonies, even of people I don’t know, is spurring me on to become more like Jesus.

Needless to say, I was in awe again when I heard the topic of this year’s (in)RL conference was “Stories”. I’ve learned when God continues to drive home a point, I need to listen. (By the way, that’s my one word for the year: Listen.) So, I am. I’m reading through old journals… looking for common themes in my story… remembering all the ways God has transformed my life… because He has. There's more to my story then one little blog post. There's always more. 

I have embraced the story God has written for me. You have a story to tell, too. If you feel like you don’t, you’re not alone… you just need to talk it out to identify what your story is. Once you begin to share your story by talking to God and talking to others, you enter a world of excitement to see not only how God will continue His story of your life, but how it will be entwined with others. It’s always better with others. And your story is important. Don’t let anyone tell you different. God cared enough to write it. Therefore, it needs to be told.

I am so over-the-top excited of what God is going to do this year through (in)RL! You are ALL invited to join me. And the best part is that it is completely FREE!!!! It’s easy to register. It's a place to experience community the way God intended it to be. Community is our stories together. It's a beautiful tapestry God has created. Join me and my friends as we listen and tell stories of God’s amazing work in our lives.

Oh, and can I add one more thing?
 
There won't be any judging.
 
Come as you are.
 
That's the best way to share your story.
 
We need the real you.
 
I can’t wait to hear your story and I’d love to see it entangled with mine.
 
Now go register! We're meeting April 26th from 9am-1pm here. Can't wait!
 
 

2 comments:

  1. Your story is so worth being told! Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love the line from the song, "And I wouldn’t trade one moment of growing up with You." I'm thankful for your history in the faith. It has blessed mine.

    ReplyDelete