Every time someone asks me to share my story I instantly start sweating. My mouth goes dry. Words clatter around boisterously in my brain. And then suddenly, as if someone had just wrapped a warm blanket around my shoulders on an icy day, peace envelops me.
In the .03 seconds between shaky knees and peace that passes all understanding, something significant happens. God meets me in my mess and reminds me of the truth I so often offer the women around me: Emily, this is your story and your story is what makes you who I created you to be. It’s in you. I birthed it in you. You can’t mess it up.
I can’t mess it up.
So I plunge head-first into the deep end and lay the contents of my heart on the table. I share my pain, my past, my fears. I rejoice in the celebratory chapters and thank God for His radical grace in the tumultuous seasons. I take the next step in front of me, even though I can’t see the end of the trail. And therein lies the beauty of becoming—placing one foot in front of the other, trusting God step by step on this grand adventure called life.
I’m beginning to get just a little more comfortable with the process of laying the puzzle pieces of my life on the table. It isn’t always easy, but sharing who I am never leaves me dissatisfied—in fact, each time I share the contents of who I am with those around me, I always leave feeling thankful, blessed, and whole.
Throughout this nerve-wrecking and sweaty process, I’ve been learning five quick tips and tricks that help me share my journey of becoming who God made me to be:
- Write it out. Map out the contents of your story. What are the threads that make you who you are today? Knowing what has happened in each chapter of my journey helps me to visually see my story and provides a fresh perspective for each point and place along the way.
- Ask someone to share their story with you. Hearing other people share their becoming stories inspires and challenges me to do the same. As I look into the eyes of the person in front of me, their bravery and transparency beckons me to be courageous too.
- Know what you want to share and what you don’t want to share. Sharing our stories doesn’t mean we automatically resign to living with all of our emotions, decisions, hurts and hang-ups on our sleeves. Decide what components of your story you want to share and which components are just for you and God and trusted advisors. Sometimes the healthiest thing we can do for both ourselves and those around us is to not extend every little detail of information. Who you share the intimate details of your journey with matters—before sharing, always ask God if you’re in the right place, with the right person and in the right heart posture to share.
- Share your story with your 3 a.m. people. Who are the people you could call at 3 a.m. that would actually answer the phone and be there for you in a heartbeat? Those are your people, your tribe. This group of people may already know your story—but regardless of how much your tribe knows, share your story with them anyways. Practicing sharing who you are verbally with the people who know and love you the most will help boost your confidence to share who you’re becoming with the people around you.
- Walk in grace. We are always becoming who God made us to be and we’ll never reach our final destination until we’re united with Jesus in Heaven. On this side of eternity, we’ll never be perfect, but we’ll always be growing, always becoming. Embrace that. Walk in grace. We don’t need to have our stories figured out or tied with a pretty bow before we share them. Sharing our stories is simply a decision to invite fellow travelers on the journey with us.
The next time someone asks me to share my story and my palms start sweating and my mouth goes numb, I’m going to embrace what happens in the .03 seconds between my fear and my faith taking root. And then I’m going to raise my voice and invite that person on my becoming journey. Because as I share who I am with her, I’m also inviting her to be brave with her own story. And that, well, that’s worth it all.
Who will you share your story with today?