Everyone Has a Story
A couple weeks ago I had the privilege of attending a storytelling event put on by a group called The Yarn in Little Rock. (Check them out here: https://www.theyarnstorytelling.com) As the theme of the evening was mental health, each of the presenters had about ten minutes to share a glimpse of their personal struggles and victories with mental health. It was a beautiful and inspiring two hours. I felt my story overlapping with theirs as they spoke, and imagined what I might say if I were the one presenting. I imagined sharing my own journey with anxiety and insecurity, and moments of recognizing God’s power at work in my weaknesses. I imagined some of the men and women I’ve had the joy of working with over the years standing on that stage, speaking from a place of depth, insight, and stability. What a gift it is to know your story and have time, space, and opportunity to share it.
As Joe and I have been exploring and praying through what God has in store for this Boston adventure, the theme of “story” has surfaced again and again. One of our foundational beliefs is that God is a Storyteller - He is telling His story TO each of us and THROUGH each of us. God has placed the desire in our hearts to help others recognize how He is at work in their lives and the part their lives play in the greater story of redemption. When we as humans discover this connection, we find freedom and become aware of new and greater purposes for our experiences.
In my work as a counselor, I am humbled again and again at the deeply personal stories that are shared within my office walls. I fully believe that the presence of Christ is what makes that space safe for others to be open. Whether it’s a one-on-one conversation or in a public setting, voicing uncomfortable truths about our lives takes great courage. Our natural tendency is to hide our flaws, keep our shameful experiences to ourselves, and only present to others what we believe will make them accept us. We mask our insecurities, trying so very hard to avoid vulnerability and exposure. We fall for the enemy’s words - the same words he has been telling humanity from the beginning: “You are not enough. If you were known for who you really are, you would not be worthy of love.” What an incredible lie. The truth is that we ARE fully known and fully loved by God Himself. He invites us to live in that love where we can safely be our true selves, scars and all. When we bravely choose to bring our personal experiences out of the darkness and into the light, God can use them to bring healing and new life, both for ourselves and for those we are willing to share with. In his book To Be Told, Dan B. Allender writes, “We’re in the presence of a good story when the flaw that shatters peace is also the doorway to redemption. … Whether it be our own flaw or the sin of others, God uses the raw material of sin to create the edifice of his redeemed glory. This point cannot be overemphasized: your plight is also your redemption.”
As I listened to the brave souls who spoke about their journeys with mental illness that night in Little Rock, my heart welled up with great pride and love for each of them, though I knew none of them personally. I felt connected to them in those moments and left feeling inspired to be more vulnerable in my own sharing. When we begin connecting with people in Boston, Joe and I hope to provide safe space both relationally and physically for people to risk being fully known. We hope to eventually host events like the one I attended, but also events where people can share their stories through music, art, or even theatre. We believe that as we connect with new friends in these places of vulnerability, God will provide opportunities for us to speak to the ways He has been pursuing them. We hope to help them see that He has an even greater story to tell through their lives if they are willing. Our prayer is that these conversations would bring clarity to their journeys and in turn impact those around them. We invite you to dream with us about the possibilities and begin praying even now over the lives that God is calling into the light.