Your Story Matters

For as long as I can remember, I have always loved stories. 

I have always loved the feel of the pages in my hand. I have always loved journeying with a character through the chapters of their life. I have always loved the feeling of crisp new pages in my hand, and the smell of a brand new book, just waiting to be opened. I learned to read at the age of three and I haven’t stopped since.

However, stories do not just exist within the pages of a poem or novel. They exist within in our lives. And every day, as we live, we are adding a new chapter to the story of our life. 

I have always felt that life is, in some ways, like a story. We are the characters and God is the author. He creates us and molds us into the person that He wants us to be. He places dreams, hopes, and desires within each one of us that we can use to serve His Kingdom. And sometimes, he allows us to face trials and plot twists—all so that we can grow and experience character development in the grand story that we call life.

Chances are, you likely have quite a few chapters in your story that have already been written. If you are in middle, high school, or college, than there is a good chance that you have already experienced God’s faithfulness in various points at your life. You have likely already had experiences that have shaped you. You likely already have a testimony. And if you are alive and breathing as you read this today, than I fully believe that God wants to use your story for His purpose and glory—and that you can impact lives right where you are, all through choosing the brave path of sharing your story. 

Maybe you’re reading this today and thinking to yourself that your story isn’t very interesting. I’m here to tell you otherwise. The belief that your story has to be big and dramatic to impact those around you is a lie straight from the enemy. Though those big, dramatic life-altering testimonies are inspiring and powerful, they are not the only stories God can use to impact lives. Sometimes, even the most ordinary examples of everyday faithfulness can speak volumes about God and His power and presence in our walk with Him. 

In fact, just the other day, I saw this truth in motion as I had an old friend text me out of the blue. We haven’t talked in months, so we had a lot to catch up on. I asked her how school was going, and she said it was going well. She told me about her involvement in a campus ministry at her university. I told her about the church that I’ve been going to ever since just before summer. She told me about her boyfriend, who she’s been dating for over a year now. Basically, the typical stuff of college and life.

However, as we talked, we eventually got into more personal details of our lives, and I had the chance to tell her about a situation that I’ve been dealing with over this past school year. When I finished, she texted back a response. She told me that she thought it was so cool that I could see that this situation was for God’s greater glory, even though it has been hard for me. I had the opportunity in this moment to direct the praise back to God, noting that He has been teaching me to trust Him more through this situation.

After we finished talking, I couldn’t help but let that conversation play over and over again in my mind. Never once would I have thought that I would have a testimony in the midst of this situation, but God turned that moment into the chance to inspire a friend in her faith. He used my story to impact another story. And this is really the essence of the Christian life—changed lives changing lives. People spurring each other on in the faith. Christians lifting up the name of Jesus through their life!

And I’ve had so many people encourage me in my faith through their own lives. I can still remember one incident a while back, where I felt like I was so behind on being an “adult“. I was still in the process of trying to get my driver’s license and I felt young compared with the rest of my friends. I felt like I was lagging behind and I was far from where I always wanted to be at that point in my life.

During this time, God spoke into my life through someone who said that they also felt behind on “adulting” and where they thought they thought they would be at this stage of life. Here they were, older than me and dealing with many of the same struggles. God spoke through this person and helped me to feel more OK with everything—just through this individual’s obedience in sharing their story. And if I were to think long and hard about it, I know I could come up with a thousand other incidents like this—where someone else’s story has impacted my own. Where I have been encouraged by another believer’s testimony. Where someone else’s faithfulness has impacted my journey.

This week, I want to encourage you to let others into your story. To share about the times that God has been faithful—in the midst of the good, the bad, and the ugly. To live your life as a testimony to God’s love, power, and faithfulness.

To inspire others through the power of a story. 

yourstorymatters

How about you? Have you ever been impacted by another person’s story (or testimony)? Or have you ever had the chance to impact someone else through your story? If so, feel free to share about it in the comments section below—I’d love to hear your story!😃

 

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Strength In Vulnerability

You never lose by loving. You always lose by holding back.” – Barbara de Angelis. 

Vulnerability. Transparency. Openness.

There is a lot packed into these three simple words. Things that are scary for many of us. Choices that make us feel afraid. Decisions that force us out of our comfort zone.

But recently, God has been speaking to me about all of these things, and I feel led to share what I’ve been learning with you, in hopes that maybe, just maybe, it might inspire someone.

So, here it goes…

* * * *

For as long as I can remember, I’ve never been good at opening up to people. I don’t have a specific reason exactly – likely some mix of being a more reserved personality by nature and going through seasons where I’ve been hurt by people – but for as long as I can remember, this has always been my story. I could write and speak about my faith and beliefs, but anytime I tried to get personal—about my life and my own struggles, I choked. It was easier for me to talk about things from an intellectual standpoint than a personal one.

This got a million times worse once I got to college. 

My first year of college, I slowly began to feel like my life was falling apart. First my schedule changed, and than my expectations changed, and than little by little, I began to feel a lot of my friendships beginning to change—until eventually it felt like everything that had come together so perfectly towards the end of high school was gone, never to be recovered again.

My life, little by little, began to turn into something of a to-do-list. 

I got up. I went to college classes. I went to work. I did my chores and daily-tasks. 

And shut down almost 100% emotionally and relationally. 

In some ways, I felt hurt. Why was it so hard to get together with old friends? Why were people changing so much? Where was God in the midst of all of this? I began to fear that if I let anyone else in, I would only get hurt—over and over again. And somewhere down the line, I held back from fully letting God in. On the outside, I looked strong. On the inside, I was a total, complete train-wreck—with OCD and anxiety slowly starting to run my life.

In retrospect, I was somewhat aware that I had a problem—even if I didn’t know how to fix it. But to be honest, most days I was trying so hard to just get through that I couldn’t really see the full picture, and how much I really was falling apart. In my mind, it was all just a part of life that I’d have to get used to. 

But recently, things have changed. And that’s what I want to share with you. 

As some of you know, I’ve started going to a new church, which I wrote about here. It has been an incredible blessing, and I’ve loved going, but I had no idea when I first went how much this church would end up helping me. And how much it would change my life.

My first week there, I was blown away by how connected everyone seemed—and how everyone really seemed to interact as one big, awesome, diverse, beautiful church family—taking the words of Jesus in Matthew 12:50 and putting them into action. The following week, I saw it even more up close and personal, as I went for the first time to the church’s young adult/college group. And that’s when things really started to change.

After taking note of how genuinely nice the people in this group seemed, the second thing that I noticed was how they opened up. Like, really opened up. More than I’ve ever seen people collectively open up in a church group before. And not only did they open up to each other—they opened up to God. Being a part of this church, I’ve seen so many people on fire for Jesus—striving to grow closer to Him above all else. And little by little, I heard God, starting to convict me. 

“You need to start letting people in. You need to start letting me in.” ‘

This has completely changed my life, and my outlook on life. It wasn’t a call to come to Christ—I accepted Christ years ago, back when I was still pretty young. But it was a call to give God all of me. My hopes. My fears. My dreams. My carefully laid out plans. 

And it was a call to start really opening up to those around me.

Slowly, I’ve started doing both of these things. It’s been a process—I can’t say I’m where I’d like to be quite yet, but I’ve made progress, even admitting in front of my whole group that I struggle with OCD and anxiety (which, by the way, has slowly been lessening). And I’ve found that the more that you give God your all, the less you worry about being hurt by other people—giving you the freedom to really open up to those around you. 

These last few years have been a journey—but for the first time in a while, I’m living—not just breathing.

And I can’t wait to see what else God has in store for me. 

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