share hope

Years ago, I didn't want to share my story. I didn't want to share it for fear of shame. I didn't want to share it because I didn't want to revisit the pain. I didn't want to share it because I thought, "it's in the past, I need to focus on the JOY of the Lord, not the hurt of my past." I also even had the notion that it was nobodies business.

Well, here is something I have learned, as I have gotten to Jesus a little bit more over the years. Our stories are a powerful tool for sharing the gospel. They are a strong weapon to thwart the enemies plans of destruction and pain. The components of our stories could be the very thing that someone else needs to hear to take the final step towards salvation. Crazy isn't it? I mean, no pressure!!! Right??? Here's the thing, there is no pressure. In my short four years of leading women's ministry, I have heard things like, "Life is hard but I'm okay! God is good!" "My past was a rough one but, God is good now and that's what I need to focus on!" "I'm doing fine!"

There is a fine line between using our past to CELEBRATE the hope we have and, dwelling on the pain. Sometimes I think we get caught up in the dwelling and, it causes us to put up a front, if you will. The walls go up because "we have Jesus now so we are okay!" What if we looked at our past, our brokenness, our failures, our hurts as opportunities to celebrate how God restored, rescued, redeemed, showed grace and mercy. What if we let those walls down and exposed our vulnerability and let others in to hear about our struggles AND our triumphs? What if we left the dirt on our face a little bit instead of trying to put on a clean and sparkly facade? Because, this life we are living? It's messy. It can get dirty. It is hard. And it's okay to say that without the quick justification or disclaimer that "but I'm okay!" For many, that is a mask. A quick band-aid or shield because we don't want others to think we're not okay.

My story and road to redemption is one that happened because another woman shared her story. Her story was so similar to mine. It was a story I thought I shouldn't share because of the shame I thought it brought with it. I wanted to protect others from hearing it because I thought it was so twisted and disgusting. But, here was this girl. Eyes shining with tears and something else. I didn't know what it was until a private conversation we had after our small group. She told me that she, too, had been afraid to share but, her story includes a moment when another woman shared her story. She realized, that her story was an integral piece to the JOY she has found In Jesus. Yes, these things have happened to her. Yes, she experienced things and made choices that were destructive. Yes, she has wounds and scars. But, she has freedom. FREEDOM. Because when she gave her life to Jesus, she made an intentional choice to lay it all out to Him. Give it all to Him. And believe what He said about His burden being light. She told me, "When I share my story now, and I get to the part that use to feel gross and twisted and something out of a V.C. Andrews novel, because I know those parts of my story belong to JESUS now, every time I share, the burden lightens up. And I just KNOW and have to BELIEVE that the words coming out of my mouth, He is using for HIS good and for HIS glory. Because my story doesn't end there. It ends with hope and healing."

Can we just let that sink in for us too. The shine in her eyes, as she shared her story, was FREEDOM. Listen, if you have a story that you feel isn't worth sharing, or for any of the reasons I listed above, it is so worth it. Pray about it. Ask Jesus to use your story for His glory. Don't feel like you have to have it all together. Your story, could be the very thing that someone needs to hear in their personal road to redemption. No pressure. Because it is FREEDOM for you too.

1 Peter 3:15 says to always be prepared to share about the HOPE you have. Why do you have that hope? Why do you have that freedom? CELEBRATE it! Don't let shame, fear or pride get in the way! Let Jesus use your story for powerful breakthrough.

He did for me.
He will for you.
He can for someone else.

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