It happens almost every time. I’m sitting on the edge of my seat in a Fresh Start seminar. My palms start getting sweaty. My throat starts to get dry. Any minute now I’ll be called up to speak. I fidget in my chair, crossing and uncrossing my legs. I pick at a loose thread on my shirt. Then the voice in my head starts up.
“Your story isn’t so significant. It’s not as dramatic as other people’s stories. You didn’t have it so bad. It’s really not a big deal. What’s the point of sharing? People won’t understand. They’ll just think you’re being overly dramatic.”
This scene has been repeated several times over the last three weeks as we’ve held Fresh Start seminars in different cities in East Asia. Our team of five has taken turns sharing our personal stories of forgiveness and freedom, helping guide others through the process of healing from offense, hurt, or loss. But almost every time I get ready to share, I start to doubt whether my story will have any impact.
Standing in front of the group, twisting my Processing the Issues of the Heart booklet in my hands, I’m still listening to the critical voice in my head. “Look at their faces! They don’t care about your story. They can’t relate. You should just sit down now. It’s not going to make any difference what you say.”
Slowly and hesitantly at first, I silence the inner voices of doubt by beginning to share my story of coming out of emotional burnout and depression. As I speak the truth of what God has revealed to my heart and how He has been healing me, the self-condemning thoughts start to fade. My voice becomes steadier and my tone more confident as I proclaim HIS truth as applied to my personal experience.
My Story – Significant
After sharing part of my story recently at one of the East Asian seminars, I joined two other women to hear how they were processing an issue from their own lives. One of the women avoided eye contact as she said she didn’t have anything to share. “After hearing your story,” she explained quietly, “I feel like my hurt isn’t so significant. It’s not such a big deal. It’s not as dramatic as your story.”
“You won’t believe this,” I said, shaking my head in amazement, “but I had the exact same thoughts today just before I told my story! I believe that’s the enemy trying to keep you from bringing these issues into the light. Your story is significant because it’s YOUR story! How you’ve been hurt, how you’ve been affected, and how you’ve responded is important because your heart is important to God! When you bring those hurts into the light, it’s allowing the Lord to bring His truth and healing.”
I’m reminded of the chorus of one of my favorite hymns by Fanny Crosby: “This is my story, this is my song: Praising my Savior all the day long. This is my story, this is my song: Praising my Savior, all the day long!” My story is significant because it’s HIS story. It’s the story of Him at work in me. It’s bringing praise and glory to my Father for what He’s done and is doing and will continue to do. My story is a story of grace. His continuing healing grace is re-writing my story of pain and unforgiveness and bitterness into a beautiful story of Jesus making something beautiful of my life.
“You are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” II Corinthians 3:3 (ESV)