Why I Share My Stories

A few nights ago, as the worship team took to the stage to start the youth meeting, I prayed something that I've made part of my routine for every Friday evening: God, don't let this night end without doing some crazy incredible God-things. I want to see them. I want to see you.

Later that night I found myself in conversation with a small group of friends, those who know me well and those who are only recently getting to know me. We started by talking about dancing. That led into conversation about my prom, and how my first relationship ended shortly after we went to prom together. 

Why did you two break up? 

And with that question I began to share a watered-down version of the story of that relationship. I shared about words that hurt and words that scarred. I shared about what it took to love and be loved. I shared about good decisions and bad decisions. I shared about hurting and aching and loving and crying. I shared about a person who cared too much and a person who didn't care enough. I shared about two people with incredible hearts who continued to make bad decisions. I shared about a tangled web of lies. I shared my story.

And while I'm always an open book if asked, that night I felt that this story needed to be given a few filters. A few months ago I shared the same story with two of my closest friends, both of whom know the person I was referring to. Except, with them, I didn't apply any filters whatsoever. I shared the good, the bad, and the too-ugly-to-put-on-the-Internet. 

Silence. Jaws dropped in disbelief. Profanities.

I know the weight of my words, and the weight of my story. I know that while I'm speaking words with a smile on my face and the occasional chuckle, the people in front of me are wide-eyed and trying to grasp what I'm saying. 

How are you sharing this? How are you just standing here telling us about it, almost as if it's no big deal?

Every time I tell that story I'm reminded of the power behind it. I forget, sometimes, the weight of those words I speak. I'm telling a story I know so very well, right down to the most vivid details, but... it doesn't hurt anymore. Recalling the memories and sharing them doesn't make me ache like it used to. It's as though I'm sharing someone else's story.

And on this note begins a conversation about healing - about a God that heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. About a God who loved me so deeply that he cared to make sure that, the next time I share that story, it doesn't hurt anymore. A God who took me through a process and journey that turned my world upside down and made all things new. At this point, I'm no longer sharing my story - I'm sharing His story of healing that He's telling through me.

This is why I share stories. 

I could tell you that God will heal your emotional wounds if you allow him to, but that may not mean much to you at all. It sounds a little ridiculous, actually. But, you know what? You and I, we're both people. If we dig down deep enough, you and I, we're vulnerable people and we each carry emotional baggage. We know what it means to hurt and we know how it feels to long for something to make that hurt go away. We're both a series of stories - experiences. So maybe you won't listen to me if I tell you that God heals the wounds and carries the emotional baggage. Maybe you'll think I'm absolutely crazy. But if I tell you my own story - if I bring you into my world and share with you my own experiences in their most raw, vulnerable, sincere form - maybe you'll see things a little differently. You'll see a real person with real experiences, and through those experiences you'll see the God who heals the brokenhearted.

You really begin to see God as the ultimate author when you step back and watch how the themes and stories in your life combine so intricately to create your narrative. 

My life is not summed up by my accomplishments. I am not my accomplishments, nor am I defined by the degree I [don't yet] have, the money in my bank account, or my number of Twitter followers. No. Tim Sanders put it best when he said, "I am just a bunch of stories I participated in, and hopefully they're love stories." 

So I let my stories speak louder than my accomplishments. I let them speaker louder than my advice; louder than my criticisms; louder than my thoughts; louder than my opinions; louder than my complaints; louder than my rants; louder than my lectures; louder than my desire to shake some sense into somebody who just won't listen. I let my stories speak louder because God uses my stories to shine brighter than through any other words I could say. 

I let my stories speak louder because they are proof - proof of a God who makes all things work together for my good; proof of hope and second chances; proof that God works miracles for those who don't deserve them.

I let my stories speak louder because they are a living testimony. 

I let my stories speak louder because everybody has a story. 

What's your story?