I realize my story changes all the time. Every new life experience enriches the work God is doing in my life. I’m very good at sharing my story, too. In fact, I venture to say I’m too good. There are times when I shared too many details too fast while in the thick of things, which led to drastic fall-outs. I am now learning to share my story in a way that others can digest, not feel overwhelmed by, with enough details for people to relate and reach out to me for further discussion.
I can think of multiple instances where I took my story to the next level and the consequences were long lasting and harsh.
The first was when I was 16. I lost my virginity right before heading out on a missions trip with 10 kids from my youth group – my little brother being one of them. I felt incredibly guilty for what had happened to me, and, although I didn’t realize it then, the experience would haunt me for years to come. When I was 16 I didn’t understand those things, though. I didn’t understand my emotions and why they were happening. All I knew was that I needed to confess my sin – and confess it loudly. The result: I remained just as broken and lost, and that brother believes his life would have been better had I not been a part of it.
Then again when I was in my early 20’s, newly married and now blended family. I had become overwhelmed with my role as a mother to my step-daughter who has down syndrome. I was passionate about sharing my struggles and how I worked through them – and I still have that passion. However, I didn’t realize how scared people would become – even in the private circle of my closest friends. I knew that I was an open book. What I told people was the truth and it was liberating watching others relate to my story. What I know now, though, is that most people don’t share intimate details – especially in public or to a large group. Which means there is always more under the surface going unsaid. So here I come along, baring my soul… and people were left wondering what ELSE was happening that I wasn’t saying. The result: Me, my family and close friends were harassed on the internet to the point that the local police were called. Another result: I lost my closest friends. Every single one.
I didn’t learn my lesson, though. Time had gone by and we moved back to where Mr. Sexy and I first met. I had to rediscover friendships and a church family. This was difficult, though. I no longer felt safe sharing any part of my story. I put myself in hiding while attending church, Bible study & Sunday school. I had fallen into a very dark place. I was experiencing anger unlike anything I had known. I had no idea how to control it and there was no one to talk to other than Mr. Sexy. And if we’re being honest, he wasn’t available for all of that all the time. Well, one morning at Bible study we were sharing how God has been working in our lives since attending the Women’s retreat. I shared my story with all of the gory details. I did feel liberated, on the road to healing and recovery. Instead of healing and recovery, I was gossipped about and told I’m unteachable by the church leadership. The result: We left church and sought relationships elsewhere which ultimately wreaked havoc on our marriage.
I absolutely love to share how God has been at work throughout my entire life. In every instance I shared today, I still can see God’s hand print:
When I was 16, God began a passion in me – one that involves women and teenage girls and healthy conversations surrounding sex.
In my early 20’s I lost my most intimate friends. That same day I reconnected with a friend I never thought I would talk to again. In fact, she was the only friend who was available for me in my darkest days. Her grace for me brings tears to my eyes even now, in this moment.
My time away from church allowed me to process my faith and realize church is made up of fallible humans. At some point, we would have to try again. Try, we did – and it was rocky. We did land at a church and ever so tentatively I am stepping back into my space of power – sharing my story.
What is your story? There is such power to sharing your life with others. It helps us feel less isolated and understood, even when sharing feels painful. I would love to hear your stories, or just a pieces of them. You are welcome to share below, or find me on social media or send me an email! I look forward to hearing from you!