By Stephanie McGraw | January 12, 2018
I remember entering high school and being fascinated with people’s stories—especially the juicy ones. Who wouldn’t be, right? In the “binge-watching” generation, we all love a good story that peeks our interest. I remember thinking I had to have an interesting story to tell someday. The danger in that thinking, though, especially in adolescence, is the misconception that trouble has to be sought in order to be saved from it—only then would it be a good story. What a big, fat, and insanely attractive lie. At 14 I decided to take things into my own hands. I took the pen and began writing a train-wreck.
I can only imagine how much it ached my Father to see me acting recklessly, abandoning everything I knew to be true, and rejecting His love for the love of the world. It breaks my heart to think that I took His grace for granted and abused His mercy. He gave me this beautiful and sacred gift, my life, and everything I need to live it to the fullest, and still, like a greedy and curious child, I was distracted by the shiny fruit the world had to offer.
The Good News
You don’t go and break your arm just to get it fixed, so why would you go and deliberately act recklessly in your life to experience the Truth that is right in front of you? And sometimes you didn’t even know that you were heading into your own self-destruction…or you never chose the pain and struggles that were thrown in your lap. The good news is that no matter what led you to the place of despair, the Lord welcomes us into His arms. With careful hands, He mends our delicate hearts and paints our lives with the most beautiful colors—better than we could ever imagine (2 Cor. 2:9 ).
Thank Jesus that He is so good and gracious and swept me out of my ignorance early on, saving me from making so much more of a mess than I did. Unfortunately, this doesn’t “click” for everyone as early on. With such heightened pressure to be noticed and liked we can completely miss the point of why we tell our stories and why they matter.
Sharing Your Story
Sharing testimonies is a common gesture in church settings, understandably so. Stories can tell us about where someone came from and what has shaped them into who they are. They can reveal God’s mercy and grace and open doors into people’s hearts. They truly are remarkable things because the people behind them are remarkable beings.
There’s always going to be someone who has an edgier story than you with juicier details, lower lows, and higher highs. But you know what? That doesn’t matter. Just because your story may not be adapted into a feature-length film doesn’t mean it is not valuable and precious. While your story contributes to who you are, it is not who you are, even though we treat it that way at times. This distinction is important. While people want to hear the ooey gooey details, God wants it all. He takes notice and pays careful attention to every detail of our lives.
To the one who ran to the ends of the earth to escape Jesus and found themselves back cradled in His arms, you are precious in His eyes. To the one who “grew up in a Christian home,” and seldom steered away from Truth, you are precious in His eyes. Your life, your purpose, your ministry is valuable no matter what paradigm or story or history you have. Comparison is a thing of the world. Let’s not drag it into our ability to hear people’s stories for what they are. To marvel and be filled with wonder as we witness God through their life. Because when all we can do is judge or compare or pity, we completely miss the point. Love one another, stories and all.
What Is The State Of Your Heart?
What is the state of your heart? How have you filtered your life experiences through the gospel? Where have you experienced the sting of sin, your need for Jesus, the beauty of salvation, and the transforming power of redemption? This can be experienced in so many different ways, but the essence is the same: do you recognize, based off your life experiences, your depravity and need for Jesus? Whether you found that at rock bottom hanging over a toilet in a club, or at someone’s deathbed, or while you were casually thumbing through the pages of your Bible, how real and important is your relationship with God to you? How has your deliverance caused gratitude towards the Father? How are you being transformed by it? A life transformed by the gospel and indwelling of the Spirit lights the way for a wonder-filled and fruitful life. It may not be conventional, and it may never be made into a movie, but sweet mercy, it’ll be beautiful.
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