Something I really love about life as a human is our ability to tell stories – specifically our own stories. And one of the things that makes me saddest as a human is when our stories are left untold. And since you’ve joined me through many different seasons, I’ll let you in on the one I’m in now.
I’m in a pretty settled season at the moment. Not a slow season by any means, but it feels like life has settled into routine – what I do for work, how I spend my free time, where I live, who I’m close with, my faith, my marriage, my children, my life… the calm after the storm. I’m so thankful for this season and the breath that comes with it. I’m still very busy with all the life things, but it doesn’t feel chaotic and painful like some seasons.
I find myself feeling almost apologetic about that.
I’ve been apologetic about my story many times in my life, for various reasons. I don’t think I’m alone in this. So today, I want to talk about why we hold back and why we need to find ways to put a voice to every season.
One of the obvious reasons we retain our stories is because we think they’re just too messy. We are pretty sure we’re the only ones that could have messed up these ways or have had these things happen to us. But for every story that I’ve finally let tumble out of my mouth as I fumble for right the words, putting sound to the darkness, I’ve found dozens of others who can say, “Me too. I’ve walked that trail, too”. The more I talk about it, the more I realize that I’m not alone, and the more I realize I’m not alone, the more community forms around me to help keep me on track.
When we’re willing to share the ugly pieces of our stories, we open up the opportunity to reach out and have others reach back to us.
Another reason we hold onto our stories is because we feel like they’re just too simple – too boring, too plain. For every thing I’ve done and every mistake I’ve made, there are heaps of things I haven’t done or haven’t been done to me. And when life hits a more settled season, a season where I reap the harvest of the difficult seasons that I’ve fought through, I struggle to be honest about the good times. I don’t want to discourage other people and I don’t know how long the season will last, so I don’t often speak about it.
Can you relate?
The danger now is that we’ve become apologetic about our testimony – the times when we can speak of redemption. Maybe we feel like we teeter on the edge of a cliff, hung in a fine balance, and admitting that things are going well might push us over. Or maybe we’re afraid that we’ll make others feel discouraged and that our joy or excitement will come across in negative ways. We do need to be sensitive to the pain of others when we are sharing our redemption stories, but we still need to speak of our progress.
We still need those stories.
I have walked some really dark trails in my life. If you buy me a cup of coffee some day, I’ll tell you more about it. Some days it helped to have people in my life walking similarly dark trails. But I definitely found surpassing value in the stories of those who had made it through – the stories of triumph and victory, the stories where light finally overcame the darkness, the stories of potential peace and joy that is to be found. I needed those stories. In my darkest days, those stories landed on my soul like water on the desert sand. They gave me hope that I’d eventually find a way out of my own pit. If there was grace to pull them out, surely there would be grace for me, too.
Have you walked dark trails and came to a place of peace? We need to hear those stories. There are masses of us out here hoping that there’s hope for us – hoping that there’s something more. We should never feel apologetic for our pain or our progress. All of our stories have a place. They all deserve to be put into words. Find your words. Speak them with kindness. Be brave.