For the longest time, I didn’t think I had a story—or at least, not an interesting one to share. Growing up as a pastor’s daughter, I was introduced to Jesus early on and have always felt a passion for living boldly deep within my heart. As those around me shared their experiences, their moments of experiencing the radical grace of God, I unintentionally compared their life change with mine and concluded that my story just wasn’t all that compelling. I began to think that my story wasn’t good enough—wasn’t good enough to share, wasn’t good enough to help others.
Sometimes I wish I had one defining moment I could pinpoint where everything just clicked, and I realized just how important my story really is. But that’s not quite how my paradigm shifted. My thoughts, perspective and attitude towards my own radical grace story changed as I asked those around me to hear their stories—some again, some for the very first time. And this time, rather than place my story side-by-side next to theirs, I simply listened. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy at first. I consciously told myself to ask questions and look past the mere words the individual in front of me was sharing, and into their eyes. That’s what made the difference for me.
In their eyes I saw hope. I saw redemption. I saw peace. I saw purpose. I saw becoming. I didn’t see a perfect person who had it all figured out. I saw a person embracing who they are and whose they are, an individual not afraid of yesterday, and someone willing to dive into the depths of their pain. The individual in front of me was a precious daughter of the King of Kings and it didn’t even matter what story she was sharing because she was sharing who she is with me and that takes courage and bravery and the heart of a warrior.
So I began sharing my story with the eyes looking back at me too. I shared how Jesus is transforming me, how I’m experiencing radical grace, how I’m becoming the Emily God made me to be. I shared who I am and in doing so, realized that I do have a story—I have a story that matters because it shares with those around me the woman I am and the woman I’m becoming.
There is not a cookie cutter for stories. We all have a story. We all have something to share because Jesus is working in each and every one of us. He doesn’t solely work through those who have experienced the traumatic extremes of life. And He doesn’t solely work through those who haven’t experienced some of the horrors others have. He is weaving each and every one of our stories into a beautiful tapestry. He uses all of our experiences for good, for His glory, to shape us into the women He made us to be.
The tragedy in my original assumption that I didn’t have a story to share was that in doing so I discounted the pain and joy and shame and heartache I’ve journeyed through. God has and is doing an incredible transforming work in my life, I just need to look up to see it. When I’m so busy comparing my experiences with others and trying to measure up to an invisible “story standard” I completely miss out on what God is doing right here, right now, and I miss out on the joy of celebrating what He has brought me through. Because we have all looked fear and pain and tragedy in the face in one form or another and had to face it head on. We have all had to choose to be a warrior or the victim. We have all walked onto the battlefield of life. We each carry pain and we each carry tremendous joy. And we are all becoming the women God made us to be.
This is why I love our becoming stories each month. These stories allow us to look into the eyes of women and listen as they share who they are and who they’re becoming. These women bravely share their hearts, their insecurities, their fears, and their victories. THAT’S what I want to celebrate. Because when I look at these ladies, I can’t help but think about how beautiful they are simply because they chose to use their voice to share their story and empower the women around them to do the same.
Over the past few months I’ve received countless emails, Facebook messages, Twitter DMs, and text messages from women sharing their experiences, sharing what they’re learning, sharing who they’re becoming. And every time I open one of these messages I can’t help but smile and then cry just a little because of the beauty pouring forth. There’s nothing more beautiful than when we realize we don’t have to be ashamed of who God made us to be, but rather that we should share who we are with the world around us.
Friend, you and I have incredible stories to share. We just need to have the courage to raise our voice, stop comparing our stories, lift our eyes, and celebrate who we are with those around us.
Will you step up boldly and share your story with me today? Drop me a line here. I can’t wait to celebrate who you are and who you’re becoming!