“But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy” -1 Peter 2:9-10
“And still the churches in Christ that are in Judea didn’t know me personally. All they knew was that people were saying , ‘The one who used to persecute us is now preaching the very faith he tried to destroy!’ And they glorified God because of me.” -Galatians 1:22-24
One summer I went on a youth group trip to Florida with thousands of other students. That was an amazing experience, and one of the most influential youth events I have ever been on. One of my favorite parts of our daily activities was when the students divided into small groups. Each group had about 7 or so people in it and we discussed the questions that were prompted to us. I remember one of the youth pastors asking the groups to go around and have each person briefly share their testimony. It was a simple task; describe life before Jesus, describe moment meeting Jesus and then describe life with Jesus. As we went around, my peers were telling the group past sins and heart aches that the Lord has helped them overcome. When it came turn for the person sitting next to me to speak, he captivated the attention of everyone. His story was dramatic, involving much more struggle and drama than the one I was preparing to tell. When he had finished, one of the students replied saying, “Wow. that’s cool. You have one of those dramatic stories that not many people have. I wish mine was more like that.” Then it was my turn. I knew time was running out, so I just gave the quick version that I had told to a dozen of other small groups a dozen of other times. During that trip, I remember feeling unsatisfied with the story I told. Mine didn’t move anyone to tears or arouse a deep discussion. I settled to believe that God simply gives powerful testimonies to some and merely good ones to others.
Looking back now, I realize that what I told the students wasn’t really my story. Although everything I said was true, it was the pretty version. The testimony I told was the one I would be comfortable painting on walls; the one that was taken in and completely modified so that I would not have to sacrifice any of my pride. I told my story not only to impress the people around me, but also to hide from any shame I might faced if people knew it all. You see, during that time I had the perfect disguise. I was able to do a noble Christian task, like sharing my testimony, without giving any of the glory to God. I appeared so righteous to people, and that was my aim; to impress and to escape.
If I were sincerely wanting to show them the grace of God in my life, I would have done some things differently. I would have said that “I have messed up” more than “He messed me up”; I would have said “I was addicted to this and sometimes, it is still a struggle” instead of “I’m not guilty of that because now I have Jesus”. Because even if their story is nothing like mine, there is something I have been made confident of- sin is familiar to everyone. I may struggle with lust and you may struggle with lying, but both are written down as sin. I may have been mistreated sexually and you may have come from a dishonest family, but both of our pasts are damaged by one thing; sin. There are a million different sins that have effected us and even more that we have committed. But for every different shade of sin, whether insecurity, self harm, pornography, lying…etc., there is only one remedy- grace.
Now I know that fact is well known; grace covers sin. But what is the importance of grace when our sin looks so soft? Dear girl, if we cover up our sin, we make grace seem so insignificant. If our sin is overlooked then so is the Cross- what is the importance of redemption if there is nothing of which we need to be redeemed? Sin is familiar to everyone, but grace is only familiar to few. Tell your story. Tell it honestly, tell it humbly, tell it knowing that His grace is oh so sufficient! After all, these stories are not our own. The stories we have are for the purpose of making Jesus known, loved, and desperately sought after.
This doesn’t mean you need to tell every detail of anything significant that has ever happened to you; especially to those you don’t know. But you are called to speak, to tell. This story is not yours to keep. It has power because of its Author. Do not hide it away. And if you story is unfinished because of secrets that are still hidden, or if shame is still present, Find someone who has told their story. Find someone who will not be surprised by what you face, so that you may find victory in confessing the sin and hurt that has hindered your soul from living in sincerity.
You are called to share your story, because your story is powerful.