Have you ever wondered if the narrative of your life has any significance? Could anyone learn anything from what has happened to you? Should you share it with others? Or should you just keep it to yourself? You might think, "Really, the past is over and what good would it do to tell anyone anyway?" There might be some parts you are ashamed of, or times you wish had never happened. Those days should just stay where they are - over and done with, long gone.
Many people feel this way.
But I'm not one of them.
I am a strong believer in the power of our stories because of their capacity to heal and enable us to realize we are not alone.
Wednesday night I walked into "Fresh Encounter," our church's once-a-month prayer time, and sat down, eager to pray with our church family. I found myself next to Patty, a woman who has long been a part of our church but someone I haven't known very well. As I reached over and hugged her shoulders I recalled the story she shared last summer as a part of our weekly "Stories in the Park" gatherings on Thursday mornings. In that little moment I remembered how God held her through some very difficult, heart wrenching days in her younger years. I felt a love and kindness toward Patty, the kind that comes through knowing her story and the working of God through her suffering. As I looked around the room that night, I saw several others who had offered their stories and I felt a renewed sense of this being my place, one where I fit.
We, as women, often feel like we don't fit, we don't belong. Each of us has a one-of-a-kind story and are unique people with a wide variety of experiences and heart breaks. But somewhere along the way, as we are invited to share and as we dare to carefully encourage our stories out of the shadows, a point of connection appears and allows the joining of our hearts because there is a common thread!
And the thread that brings us together? God is with us.
God is with us! And he has made himself known through Christ so that we can step out of ourselves and into His lovely world, to bear witness to the truth. He is with us. We are not alone. We fit in because he is with us and he created us to need him and each other.
I encourage us all to work toward a deeper level of knowing our sisters in Christ. We could call someone up...or text if we're are a bit shy. As we sit down to coffee or lunch, we can ask questions. Be curious and get to know the one who is sitting across the table. We could ask, "Would you tell me the story of how God has moved in the past and is working in your life today?" The stories we'll hear will amaze us because everyone has a story that will knock our socks off because God is in it.
Genesis 28:16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, "Surely the LORD is in this place and I was not aware of it."
As we become good listeners to the stories of our sisters lives, we will be amazed at how God is near and has been from the very beginning.