In September of 2008, I stood at a podium, shaking. I was preparing myself to give a ten-minute talk in front of 36 women I did not know, and 32 more that I knew fairly well but who – until now – had not heard all of my story, and I was terrified that they would judge me for my faults and failures. I was afraid that they would condemn me for my weaknesses. I was worried that they would think less of me.
I was sure that not everyone who heard my talk would understand, but I was reminded that morning by the Deacon that I was not giving this talk for everyone. I was giving this talk for the one or two women who needed to hear the words I was going to speak, and whose lives would be healed by what I dared to share.
So I boldly told them the story of my broken past, and my struggles to find healing. I revealed the many times I’d fallen on the way, and the way that God reached through to me each time to bring healing and help me get back up. At some points during the talk, I was stopped by the tears that came from reliving those painful moments from going on, but each time I would recover and find the strength to continue.
At the end of my talk, one woman came up to me. She shared with me that she had gone through a journey similar to my own. She’d never had the courage to tell anyone. She’d suffered alone from the wounds of that journey, thinking no one would understand, and not daring to reach out for healing because of it.
My story empowered her to seek the help she needed, to receive the comfort she’d never dared ask for because of her fears of being rejected and judged. My willingness to open my life to critique and examination also opened the door for her to see a way out of her prison of fear and pain. In hearing my story, she found hope that healing was possible and that the past she’d struggled with for so long could become part of something greater.
You Have the Power
Someone out there is hurting with a pain only you can help them heal. You are the only one with the right combination of talents, gifts, skills, knowledge, and wisdom to minister to them. You have the power to help them, but to do it you’re going to have to find the courage to share your story.
Pain tends to isolate people. The people who have never been through their struggle don’t understand it, and their lack of understanding can lead them to be downright cruel in the way they handle someone who is experiencing that pain. The person experiencing that pain can start to feel alone, as if no one else understands them, and can end up giving into it and begin engaging in self-destructive behaviors to try and ease the suffering even a little.
You Can Help
Your courage in telling your story encourages them by showing people they are not alone. Others are struggling in that same way, too. Telling your story lets them know that their experiences are not the end of the story, that there are better days ahead if they continue on the journey. These people need to know that they are not alone, they need to know that there are others out there who have been through the things they are going through right now and come out the better for it.
Tell the Whole Story
As hard as it is to do, though, when you tell the story – tell the whole story. The temptation is to gloss over or omit your own errors, your own falls, and your own failings when telling your story. Yet this is not only not helpful to the person struggling with a dark time. It can serve to discourage them even further. It can lead them to see their own failures as proof that they could never follow your path and therefore they cannot hope to overcome what they’re facing.
The Courage to Be Vulnerable
Only the whole truth will serve them. This is going to take courage. It takes courage to allow yourself to be emotionally vulnerable in front of others and to expose yourself to their judgment, to risk their rejection, to open yourself up to their condemnation. Yet without this courage you will rob your story of its power to lift those who have fallen up and help them get started again.
Your Story Isn’t for Everyone
Not everyone will appreciate your story. There are those who won’t need the healing it brings. They won’t understand your journey, and that’s okay. It’s not meant for them.
You may even face people who don’t want to hear your story, who think you shouldn’t tell it. Accept that this will be true. Tell it anyway. Because someone out there will need it. And the only way to find those people is to share it.
Fiction Is an Option
If you just can’t imagine yourself telling the story exactly as it happened, you can write it as a fiction story. Keep the elements true to life, but hide them in allegory or change the details. The truth will reveal itself in the details and the story will resonate with those for whom it is intended.
I’m Here to Help
Maybe you haven’t told your story because you don’t know where to start. I’ve given you some tips in my blog post, Why People Put Off Writing, but I’ll be covering this in more detail in my next post.
What’s Stopping You?
If you’ve considered telling your story but haven’t done it yet, comment below and let me know what’s stopping you. I’d love to hear from you on the challenges you face. Maybe I can help you find the answers you need.
If you don’t feel comfortable posting it publicly, you can contact me
and tell me in private. What you send to me will be kept confidential until you’re ready to share it.
Ready to Get Started?
If you’re ready to start writing your story but you aren’t sure where to begin, I have just the blog post for you. You can find my advice on How to Get Started.