Story-telling can be difficult for some of us. Especially when we don't really want to tell the story because we're pretty much ashamed of the story. And it's our story. Tricia Goyer's courageous piece leads the way in telling our hard-to-tell stories, and what our world might miss if we don't: our voice.
The Story I Didn't Want To Share
By Tricia Goyer
During my freshman year of college I had to take a speech class. There only about fifteen people in the class, plus the professor, but as I walked to the front of the room for my first talk about spotted owls I'm not sure which trembled more, my knees or my voice. I was happy to pass the class and earn my credits, and as I looked at my grades at the end of semester I thought, "Well, that's that. I'm glad it's over." Or so I thought.
The next time I stood in front of an audience I was at my church. My pastor had asked me to share my testimony. This wasn't an "I gave my heart to Jesus when I was five-years-old" type of story. Instead I shared about become sexually active at a young age, having an abortion when I was fifteen-years-old and facing a second teen pregnancy and having my son when I was seventeen. I'd promised my pastor the year prior that I'd speak for Sanctity of Life Sunday. Yet when the time arrived it was the last thing I wanted to do. Still, I knew that to not stand up there and share my story would be to disobey God. It wasn't just my pastor asking me to tell my story. God was too.
Both my knees and my voice trembled again, and I'm pretty sure that I read most of my story. For weeks prior to speaking fears had plagued me. I was afraid that once our church members knew the truth they would look at me differently.
Yet when I lifted my gaze and looked down at the congregation I saw two things. First, compassion. Even though I regretted the choice I'd made in a very dark place, my church friends saw how I'd suffered too. I'd faced pain, shame, and heartache after my choice and they understood my pain.
The second thing I saw as I looked out in the audience was the same pain and shame that I'd carried for so long in some of the faces. Seeing that, my voice grew stronger as I continued to share. I wanted those women to know the forgiveness, hope and healing I'd discovered through Jesus Christ. I wanted them to experience healing too.
After the service was over, a half-dozen women approached me. They asked me to pray for them, and some signed up for the Bible study that I was leading. And as I drove home from church that day, I was thankful that God had trusted me to share my heart. It was hard, but I knew then that my story could make a difference. I also knew that I no longer had to hide behind a mask, trying to be perfect.
The hardest story to share is the one that cuts us deep. The one we don't want to reveal. The one that proves our own brokenness. Yet if God has brought you any level of healing, it's important to share that hope and healing with others. When we share the stories we don't want to share, they not only help others but they also bring freedom within our own souls.
Since that day, I've had more chances to tell my story. I'm more confident now as I stride up onto the stage, but it's never easy. Revealing my past regrets never will be. Yet I'm so thankful that when I was asked to speak I shared from the hardest place first. It was like ripping the band-aid off quickly. But the amazing thing is, that the wound underneath was more healed than I'd expected. And more healing comes each time I am willing to share.
Do you have a hard story to share? I won't lie, it'll be hard. But consider sharing it with even one person. There is someone out there who needs to discover the same hope and healing. And as you offer that to others, you'll be walking out your continued healing too.
Tricia Goyer is a busy mom of ten, grandmother of two, and wife to John. Somewhere around the hustle and bustle of family life, she manages to find the time to write fictional tales delighting and entertaining readers and non-fiction titles offering encouragement and hope. Her most recent book is Walk It Out: The Radical Result Of Living God's Word One Step at a Time. In addition to her roles as mom, wife and author, Tricia volunteers around her community and mentors teen moms. She is the founder of Hope Pregnancy Ministries in Northwestern Montana, and she currently leads a Teen MOPS Group in Little Rock, AR. Learn more about Tricia at www.triciagoyer.com.