A man whom I greatly admire once asked me and the crowd that surrounded us who our favorite teacher was. As we thought about it, he started to say, “I bet it was the one who was good at telling stories.” As soon as he said that, rounds of yeses were silently spoken in head-nods and nostalgic smiles full of gratitude.
As the question lingered in my mind for some time, I realized that there have been so many people who have not just shared a good story with me but who have shared their story with me. ‘Til this day, they have left a mark on my heart.
But what about my own?
The initial thought of sharing never really crossed my mind as worthwhile. Why would I share my struggles or triumphs if I would end up being judged for it? Or worse, if I do, would anyone actually care? It wasn’t until I encountered real, vulnerable individuals who were courageous in sharing a glimpse of their lives-- where they had a breakdown, and God showed up, and led them to their breakthrough-- that I was inspired to do the same.
But oh, to be vulnerable is so, so hard! The initial thought of sharing any struggle makes me uncomfortable because I am making myself subject to another’s rejection of me and yet at the same time, their acceptance of me. But that's precisely why it's good. It challenges me to come out of myself. Silence does not keep me safe or protect me as I have erroneously believed.
Sometimes we can be so out of touch with our reality or with the ability to see God throughout the history of our lives. Maybe there are some stories that we would prefer to forget. There are painful memories where we think God was absent from and we cannot see any good there. When I feel this way, I’ve found new perspective by saying, “Lord, show me where you were when this happened to me” and He has. He has been with me through it all.
It says in Revelations 12:11 that “the enemy was defeated by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony.” Jesus has already shed his blood, now it is up to us to share our testimony.
Your past is not the enemy. I urge you sisters, to speak truth over that shame of what was done to you or by you. Proclaim the victory that is already yours. Once you do, you release the hold it has on your life. The darkness then disappears and the lies crumble. As Brene Brown put it, “Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of the light.”
Our stories are capable of bringing so much light and life into our broken world and our broken people. It is even capable of mending our own broken hearts. It's in doing the very thing that scares us that helps us to conquer our fear. Then fear no longer has any power over our lives--setting us free.
Growing up in a dysfunctional family with divorced parents gave me a permanent wound that still bleeds to this day. It set me up for making poor life choices time and time again. From a young age I was told that I was “too sensitive” when I wanted to express my feelings, so I repressed them. For most of my life I was considered to be “tough” and “strong” because I was always so “composed.” But really, I had resentment and anger that rippled out into all of my other relationships.
For most of middle school and into highschool, I kept to myself because I was afraid to let anyone in. I never felt free to be my actual self. I hated who I thought I was, especially when I looked in the mirror. I was consumed by insecurities and blamed myself for everything that happened at home. I would physically harm myself to the point of feeling numb because I felt I deserved it. God always felt distant. I didn’t know how to invite Him in, or anyone else. I became good at hiding. Until one day, by the grace of God, I came clean to my mother about the struggles I carried and why I was so cold with her and most of my family members.
I thought she would disown me for having been such a horrible daughter. But instead, she met me there. She embraced me and accepted me. This started my journey of loving myself, of starting to see my life with worth and meaning.
I remember soon after, I shared with a friend what I had just done. A few hours later, she called me back saying she had done it too. She shared her story with her mother. It was like a ripple effect. And I kept seeing it happen with many people throughout my life. My vulnerability created a space for others to be vulnerable too.
And the truth will always be this: no matter what you are going through, there is someone in your life who cares. There is someone who is willing to walk with you, stay on the phone until 2 am with you (God bless em’!), and even cry or laugh with you. There are people in our lives who are for us, even when we think we are alone in our darkness.
My dear sister, your story matters. The fear of being rejected is not stronger than the truth of your goodness, no matter what has happened in your life.
Being vulnerable is our hearts cry for intimacy. We yearn to share our lives with others, to be the keepers of other’s stories. Isn’t that why we love heart-to-heart conversations so much? Let’s be open to have those conversations; to be vulnerable with God, with others, and with ourselves. This is how we thrive.
I do want to point out that this doesn’t mean we have to display every detail of our lives for the sake of connecting and/or relating to others. There are some parts of our story that are only meant for us to know or for a select few, and that is okay. It is important that we entrust those stories to those who are trustworthy.
So, I invite you sisters, and brothers alike (because I know y’all read this too), when you’re ready to do so, share your story. As you share your heart, you invite others to do the same. Healing then begins to cover every surface and crevice of our wounded nature and allows us to become whole again.
“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love, belonging, and joy–the experiences that make us the most vulnerable.”
Chelsea Rojas is a NYC girl who enjoys going on adventures far away from the city. She has shared TOB teachings for over 6 years with Corazon Puro. While she is currently studying to be a Speech-Language Pathologist, she enjoys trying new things, being overly-competitive in all the games, educating others on health and wellness @selfcaresoulcare, and smiling at strangers on the street.
Image by: [Paul Gregory https://www.thingwithfeathers.net]