Introduce Yourself

I almost didn’t go to small group this week. I have been tired from working a full time writing job and beginning another (and my last) semester of teaching. And a few of my friends had said they couldn’t make it. So my excuses were pretty abundant. But I went anyway, and I’m really glad I did.

My church celebrated our first birthday this past Sunday, and we shared a few videos of individuals who had found our church and what the year had meant to them. In honor of that, my small group decided to share our stories of how we came to find our church.

I have shared my story with friends and at my previous small group, and since a few people from my previous small group are in this group, I didn’t want to “bore” them. I also don’t want to feel like people pity me–I’ve felt that enough in the past year, and it makes me feel even more ostracized. But soon enough, one person sharing turned into another, and we were suddenly going around the circle. As the person next to me spoke, I kept thinking just say “pass,” but when she finished–and there was an appropriate pause–I found myself sharing.

As I listened to others’ stories, I started to realize that knowing their stories is a vital component of getting to know them. Sharing stories makes us vulnerable, and that can be genuinely tough and nerve-wracking because we are baring a bit of our soul, but vulnerability is a big part of establishing community. If we are not honest and open with our community, we aren’t really in community; it’s only a facade. Telling our stories is important–they are our testimony, they showcase our “why,” and give us opportunity to build honest relationships.

So, take some time to introduce yourself. What do you blog about and why? What gets you going? What made you want to blog? What does blogging mean to you? How did you come across blogging? Is it a career for you or is it just something you do to share your story and let others know they are not alone?

God uses our stories. What’s yours?

 

 

 

 

Telling Your Story

If you’ve been a follower of this blog for any amount of time, it’s likely that you’ve seen it go through quite a few changes to this point. Seasons, if you will. Like I’ve gone through.

When I started blogging, I wasn’t really sure where I was going with it. I’ve known since college that I want to write, and blogging was sort of my “introduction” to getting “out there” (whatever that really means). But it was more of a public journal, with the only message being “I’m here” and maybe the attempt at online community. As I progressed in my writing, as life happened, and as my seasons changed, I began to feel that wasn’t enough.

When I started taking my writing more seriously, though, I wanted the message to be “you’re not alone,” but I was suddenly afraid. It meant telling my story, and I wasn’t sure if that was “safe.” I wasn’t even sure if I should. After all, who wants to hear my ramblings of my struggles? What I have gone through and continue to go through isn’t near as bad as what other people have suffered through. I’m not even that good.

This change was another opportunity for the enemy to come in and tell me lies. He wanted to take my writing, he wanted me to believe his lies about my abilities–that I was incapable, that my words would never matter–and not Truth. He had been doing a number on my head for years, and here he saw another opportunity. I’m a Christian; I shouldn’t struggle with anxiety. If I have anxiety, it means I don’t really have faith.

But then I encountered a podcast episode from Proverbs 31 Ministries–the podcast that actually jumpstarted my decision to make this blog a true part of my life. And do you know what it was on? Yup–anxiety. And there is one message in that episode that really hit home: seeking outside help does not make you any less of a believer.

And there it was. The truth I so desperately needed to hear as I was on the brink of an episode.

I have been seeing a therapist, but I had felt shame in the need. I have toyed with the idea of medication for my anxiety because it causes me to miss valuable hours of sleep. My therapist even provided me a letter for Belle, assigning her officially as my Emotional Support Animal. But the guilt welled inside me. And suddenly, here I was, listening to other Christian women say that seeking help is good.

This made me realize that maybe other Christian women need to hear the message that they are not alone, just like I needed to hear it.

What’s more is my church began a sermon series a week later called Crash The Chatterbox, and the first message on insecurity laid right on my heart. The minute my pastor said, “who told you the gifts God has given you will not make an impact?” I felt the  tears begin to well up and my soul felt ripped. Because that was exactly how I had been feeling for a while.

The thing is that “you’re not alone” is a strong and much-needed message in the lives of Christian women–heck, in the life of any woman. We all seem to think we are alone, that we are the only ones who suffer, that no one can possibly understand. We feel others will judge or shame us: “they live such happy lives, they couldn’t understand”; “if I tell them about my situation, they’ll tell me how it’s my fault”; “I can’t reveal the truth because I’ve put on a mask for too long.” When the truth is those “others” have probably also faced similar circumstances and we just didn’t witness it, and they are probably just as desperate to share their story to someone who would listen.

Besides, how do we have the Bible? Because Jesus’ disciples decided to tell their stories. And their stories impacted the world.

I’ve learned a valuable lesson: telling your story is important. It doesn’t matter what it is. Do not compare it to others’ stories; your story is your own. And your story is special because it is yours. God’s impact on our lives was never meant to be a secret–every time He does something, we are to shout our praise and give Him the glory and point others to Him. And how else do we do that than by telling our stories?