I had dinner with a good friend tonight and I realized that though we’ve known each other for over three years, I’ve never heard her life story. (I love stories!) So, I asked her to share hers with me. She kind of rushed through until I would stop and ask her questions along the way. She thought her story was boring.
I used to have the same perspective of my own story. I thought my life was incredibly ordinary or, to me, somewhat disappointing. As far as knowing Jesus, I always did. I’d never been a drug addict that turned from my wicked ways. I’d never sown those wild oats in college to overcome insurmountable regrets after salvation. I’d never heard God’s voice audibly in the middle of the night. Heck, I’d never even had a cavity, seen a national monument or lived in two different houses till college. I hated when people asked me about myself because I got bored hearing it.
Then, in the spring of 2003, I had a conversation that changed my life, and my story, forever. It was with a friend of mine named Don. I was going through one of, if not the, most difficult experiences of my life to that point. I went to him and asked him for his advice on the situation which was moving back from New York. New York had been my dream since I was eight years old and now it had come shattering to an end. I was devastated and heartbroken. One of the things he shared with me was the healing power of my life story. Don told me that as difficult as it was to talk about, it would help me to talk about it. And the more I talked about it, the easier it would get.
Though at the time it seemed like an impossible wound to heal from, I gave it a try. It took quite a few tries before I could tell it without tears streaming down my face, but he was right. Time and talking about it did help heal me from the pain. And it was such a significant time in my life that it became part of my overall story. Since then, it has even served as comfort for others who have had to mourn lifelong dreams or go through painful situations. I talk about it also because I have learned from it. I’m also an external processor, so it helps me to make sense of things when I can talk them out.
As significant as that chapter of my life is, it is still only a part of my story. There are so many bits and pieces. There are so many life-altering experiences that I only realized the importance of after the fact. Just like everyone else, all of these small things add up to create a thread that runs from my beginning to my present to my dreams for the future. It helps me understand myself and you understand me as well. It adds perspective.
For two years, I was a freelance writer. It was one of the greatest times of my life because it deepened my faith in a way I could’ve never guessed. I learned big time dependence and surrender to the Lord because I was dependent on Him for provision constantly. Most every week for those two years, I didn’t know if I was going to have another job the following week. I was hoping and praying bills would get paid. That may sound really scary, but it really wasn’t for me. It was a time when I could see God in a tangible way I’d never known Him before. I loved it. And it certainly kept me on my toes! It was a great time of growth for me.
I nicknamed that time “My Time in the Wilderness”. I was just kinda wandering and wondering. There were a lot of unknowns. I stepped out on faith because I felt God had called me to it and He gave me peace in return. But it was definitely a position I’d never been in before. So, during that time, I read in the Old Testament about the Israelites wandering in the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land. I just figured we had a lot in common. But it was crazy how my life would parallel what was happening in the Bible. It came alive to me and I could see how to relate it to my circumstance in a whole new way. God provided for them as they needed, and no more than they needed at a time. He also led them to where they were going. He was with them. And of course, the Lord, was doing the same for me.
But much like the Israelites, I was a complainer. There were days I wanted more than quail as they did, or kept wondering how much further to the Promised Land or longed for the comforts of security. Not coincidently, He reminded me the same as He did them, that He was in the middle of this mess. God had taken care of them and He would do the same for me. Every time they complained, they were reminded of the captivity they’d come from. God reiterated their story…His story and their place it in. And without fail, every time I became discouraged or frustrated, God gave me an opportunity to share my story with someone. Every time. When I finished telling it, I was amazed at the adventure I’d been on. I couldn’t believe I was living in that story! It was such a privilege at that point. I had a great story!
I believe it is the same with everyone. It’s kind of like watching your own hair grow. Sometimes we look at the same thing every day and don’t see any change. But when we broaden our perspective and tie the whole thing together, we can see it more clearly. We are miles and years from where we were, spiritually, emotionally, physically, whatever. But it took all of those things to get us to that point.
God has a plan for each of us. I truly believe that statement. He invites us all to be a part of His story. And when I look at my role in The Story, I am humbled. I got asked. And I am playing my role. My own little thread runs through the fabric of time. I matter. Though my role may never be someone like Billy Graham, I’m significant. Yes, The Story can happen without me, but the point is that God doesn’t want it to. So, my answer is yes. I’ll join in!
When you look at your story like that, why wouldn’t it be grand?!?!?! It’s epic! It is part of The Story! It is full of events that bring God glory. It is a testimony of His love for this one, little person. One person out of six billion. And yet, it is mine. There are a lot of things people can take from me if they want. My story is not one of them. Yet it is woven with so many others. My story didn’t happen alone. He put all kinds of “random” interactions with strangers in between meaningful conversations and experiences with friends and family. They all add up to be words, phrases, sentences and chapters in my story.
Some of the most significant moments in my life are incredibly depressing. Some are thrilling. Some still make me laugh out loud. And I believe God was beside me in all of them. The Holy Spirit was guiding me along His path. Sometimes I took the right steps but there were quite a few I didn’t. All still matter.
I hope I was able to help my friend see that her story is not boring or insignificant. It is hers. I care about her and want to know her better, so I loved hearing it. It helps me understand her. I can see more of where she is coming from. I can see the unique ways God has worked in her life. That is quite valuable to me.
I don’t like to tell my story because I like to hear myself talk. I love to tell my story because I see God’s fingerprints all over it! I would say 99% of the experiences I’ve had were never planned by me. They were all Him. And I’m so thankful. They are so much better than what I wanted. My story is a witness of His work in my life. I believe the same is true for each of us.
Please do yourself a favor. Do someone else a favor. Share your story.