“To be a person is to have a story to tell.”- Isak Dinesen
It has been a privilege to spend time over the last week with a group of teenagers taking their first steps into Christian leadership, and as part of the training we were doing, each of them had the chance to share their story of how God has been at work in their lives so far.
This was a prospect that terrified some of the young people. Some of them had difficult stories; some didn’t feel that they had much of a story to tell; some just didn’t like speaking in front of others, but they gave it a shot, and every single one of the stories was encouraging. It was exciting to hear about the different ways God had revealed himself and drawn them to him and, as they bravely let down their guard to step out and share their stories and found acceptance from those who listened, it was amazing to see the resulting growth in their confidence.
Your story may feel insignificant or difficult to share at times, but the truth is: every story matters.
Your story matters.
And here are some of the reasons why:
Your story matters because you matter. You were designed and created by a loving God. “The very hairs on your head are all numbered” (Luke 12:7 NLT) so your story is important. Time and time again we see Jesus making time for individual people, caring about their stories: Zacchaeus, the Samaritan woman at the well, the paralysed man by the pool… Each individual matters to him.
Your story matters because it reveals God. It shows people God’s faithfulness, love, power and mercy in ways they can understand and relate to, helping them to see that God was not only real and active in the past, in the stories they can read about in the Bible, but that he is still the same today. It demonstrates God’s work today, and it often builds faith and raises expectancy that God may be at work in their stories too.
Your story matters because people love to listen to stories. Storytelling is a key teaching method Jesus used because it is highly effective. Instead of simply telling people they should love their neighbours, he told the story of the Good Samaritan; instead of merely stating that God is loving and forgiving, he told the parable of the Prodigal Son. Storytelling brings truth to life in an accessible and memorable way. If you try to tell your non-Christian friends a fact about God that you have learned from the Bible, the chances are they won’t be interested, but if you tell them your story, suddenly you will have their attention because they care about you and what is happening in your life, and as they listen they will discover more of God through your story.
Your story matters because it is unique. No-one else has your story, and no-one else can tell your story without you doing so first. You may worry that it is not as dramatic or exciting as other people’s, or you may feel that it is not as you would like it to be, but God can use it. Sharing your story doesn’t mean that everything has to be resolved with all the loose ends tied neatly in a bow. Your story is still on-going, but if you share it honestly- the times where you have seen God at work and the situations where you are still waiting to see- your story will be able to reach certain people in a way that no-one else’s story can.
Your story matters because as you tell it, healing can follow. As Maya Angelou wrote, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” There may be parts of your story that you don’t like, events which are difficult or painful to talk about, and maybe you would rather pretend those parts of your story didn’t exist. But as you find a safe place and share your story, it allows God’s light to break into those dark places and enables you to see more clearly. It is not easy but it brings healing and, as past events lose their power, it can change the direction of your story and allow God to use even your painful experiences for good.
Your story matters because it can unlock healing for someone else. One of the most powerful phrases in the English language is made up of two simple words: “Me too.” As you share your story, you have no idea how it is going to connect with someone else, how they may be able to relate to what you say, how your words can let them know they are not alone and how hearing of your experiences can give them hope. Sharing our stories involves a step of faith because someone has to go first and we don’t know what the response will be, but our words may be exactly what someone needs to hear. I will be forever grateful for the brave person who shared her story and was a key factor in God prompting me to share mine. I have also seen it from the other side and as I have shared my story, God has used it to give people hope and help them find the people confidence to share theirs.
Sharing our stories is not an easy thing to do, but those times when we see God use it to make a difference for someone else make it all worthwhile.
“Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies.” (Psalm 107:2 NLT)
linking with Live Free Thursday