I sat silently in my car, held the phone on my ear, and listened. “You really need to be careful who you share your story with. You could lose a lot of people. I read some of these stories you’ve written and thought ‘gosh, I don’t even know who she is anymore.” The words rang out and felt like a knife to my chest. After years of being open and honest about my story with anyone God had asked me to, I had taken a leap of faith and given some of my writings to an acquaintance of mine who was a book editor. They were just a collection of devotionals, or short stories, like you’re reading here on my blog (thank you by the way!) First she had told me the short stories were charming, which felt like the equivalent of a compliment to a kindergartener on their rendition of the last supper drawn with all stick people. (um, gee thanks?) I was then given this little gem of advice, to try not to be too honest about who I had been, because people may not like me. It was the first time I had been met with such distaste after telling my story. While some may have been surprised, most had been thankful that I had opened up, entrusted them with my heart, and were stoked to see all that God had done in my life and marriage. But this was different and it hurt. Really bad.
At the end of this phone call I was left defeated, wondering if she was right. Maybe I should just shut up and not tell my story. Maybe I would lose a lot of people. I texted one of my best friends and recounted the conversation, telling her of my defeat and how it felt like a ton of bricks sitting on my chest. She reminded me that I didn’t need to take everything someone said to heart. That my story was God’s story and that I was able to reach people who have been in my situation in a way nobody else could. I remembered that I wasn’t out to impress people, I was out to obey God.
As the day went on, and this conversation weighed on my mind as these types of things do, God spoke gently to me:
“Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” Mark 2:17
I realized, THIS is my calling. Here’s the deal. Some of us have amazing testimonies filled with upright lives that have completely glorified God. I am so amazed and inspired by women who have kept themselves pure before marriage, never had a drop of alcohol, a puff on a cigarette or had a swear word leave their lips. What a testimony this is to the fact that the Holy Spirit gives us the power to live these lives set apart for Him, it can be done! It is what I pray for my children. But, it’s not my testimony. It doesn’t make it worse, or better, it just makes it different.
I believe that God has called me to reach out to those who feel broken and beaten, and completely unwelcome into the church with the baggage they carry. I believe God has called me to lighten their load simply by letting them know they’re not the only sick person here. The church is filled with sick people. People who need Jesus in a desperate way. People who have been rejected by God’s own people because of their story. In the same way a doctor can’t help a sick person who won’t admit their sickness, Jesus can’t help someone who doesn’t realize their hopelessness without Him.
Without Jesus, we are all hopeless. Without Him we are all a nosediving plane just waiting to hit the ground. My encouragement today is simply this: God has given you a story, and it is a story that someone needs to hear. Maybe not right now…maybe you’re still in the middle of your healing and that wound is too raw. But someone, someday will need your story to revive them from the comatose state they feel like they’re in. Don’t let the fear of what people may think keep you from obeying the Creator of the universe and the Maker of your heart. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you all to go start a blog and tell the whole world. Maybe your story will be used in one or two people, who need an intimate friend who knows exactly how they feel. In whatever way He calls you to share your life, do it! He will use you in ways you could never imagine, to reach those that no one else can.
P.S. Oh, and what about my acquaintance? Some people won’t understand your vision, or what God has called you to. She’s completely entitled to her opinion. I don’t think of her as a hater, or someone who doesn’t realize her need for Jesus. God has just given her a different calling, and she does an amazing job writing and editing some wonderful books! I learned a lot from the blunt words she spoke. No hard feelings here.