Did you know it’s National “Share Your Story” Day?
What makes that particularly incredible to me are the things that happened just yesterday (which is why I’m typing this today!)…
- I was filling out paperwork and there was a question asking to share my ‘testimony’. I was a little taken aback by the question and had never really “written it down” but enjoyed the opportunity. I recapped it in a paragraph or so and submitted my paperwork quickly as my family and I were leaving to go to a church class.
- So, my hubby and I are taking a “Membership” class at this wonderful church we’ve been attending and last night was the last class, and you would never guess what the topic was?… HOW TO SHARE YOUR TESTIMONY! Really?! That’s kinda weird! But it was a thought provoking class (for me) on the various ways, aspects and reasons to share our testimonies, and the how it can help others! As you can imagine, I was BAFFLED, as I had just written it for the first time minutes ago… I was compelled to share the ‘irony’ with the class and just laugh and marvel at the ‘coincidence’.
- Later that night, after class, I was checking my emails and saw that the next day is NATIONAL SHARE YOUR STORY DAY.
Hence – my “Trifecta Testimony”. The seemingly little things, connected in a way, through various aspects of our lives…. why? Who knows (but I have a theory about it). Does it matter? probably not much. I don’t know how ‘it’ all works but what I DO know is that when you pay attention to your life, to your story, when you open your eyes and your heart, knock and the door will be opened so you can see how God works in our lives and connects things so beautifully like that (Matthew 7:7). And when these things line up like this for me, I use it as a guide and push to follow along.
So, I pass the challenge to you, to write your story. As you read mine, think about yours… What would you include in your story? What do you have to say about yourself? What would your life’s book title be (I’m honing in on mine)?
I’ll share with you mine if you share with me yours! My Testimony goes a little something like this:
I wasn’t raised in a “religious” home or went to church or was taught much about God (except for the occasional times my Grandmother brought me with her to Catholic church) but when I was a teen my parents were in the middle of an ugly divorce, my Grandmother was terminally ill and suffering from pancreatic cancer (my Mom was her primary caretaker) and passed away during this time and the emotional toll paid it’s price and my Mom. She became an alcoholic during my preteen/teenage years (I’m so grateful to report that she hasn’t drank in over 22 years)! I started going to youth group with my friend and first discovered the peace and joy and love of God when I was about 14 years old. I loved going to church, youth group, camp, all nighters, and the other great activities where I learned about Jesus, God, fellowship, faith, and true love. I got baptized and was so happy despite my struggles at home. I remember vividly coming home after church functions, on a ‘God high’ (it’s real!) full of peace and happiness, and my Mom would accuse me of going just for “the boys” (ok, ok, there was a boy, Jimmy from San Bernadino, who was so cute – BUT what’s not why I went, it was a perk!). Anyways, the reality of my life would burst my bubble time and time again. And then there was “sin” (cue dramatic music here “dun dun duuunnn”). The notion of sin was in my awareness, I remember so clearly one day, while listening to LL Cool J on my cassette player, Back Seat of My Jeep (one of my faves at the time), wondering if listening to that song was a sin? Then that thought spiraled into an overwhelming feeling of being defeated by sin. How do I live in the world, as a teen, and not sin? My THOUGHTS are sinful, the music I listen to (and love) are sinful, my environment is sinful… the pressure was too heavy for me at that time and I slowly turned away from God. I didn’t have anyone to disciple me through those times, to teach me about living in a sinful world, to nurture me in my infancy of Christianity, to guide me through this difficult time in my walk with Christ. (Side note – for all of you reading this who work with youth, please take this as an encouragement of the IMPORTANCE of your role and impact in their lives. YOU make a difference. YOU can be that person who helps mentor them through the difficulties of teen-hood so they don’t wander too far as I did). Well, after that sinful contemplation, I remember making a conscious decision. I remember feeling it was ‘too hard. not possible. I didn’t know how to do it’, and I rebelled. I got mixed up with some bad things; drugs, alcohol, sex. I wanted to escape the feeling of helplessness I was feeling in my life, to take “control” and make my own (bad) decisions. I was young, living in San Diego, moved out on my own when I was 18 years old and went on from there. Several twists and turns and heartbreaks and incredible things too (meeting my amazing husband, graduating college, having children, flourishing in my career) lead to my path today. I even went through a phase of “The Secret” – you know, that believe and receive stuff. I was always pretty spiritual, but there was a time that I questioned the whole “Jesus is the crux of salvation” thing but surely believed in a Creator, always. I just wanted to be/do ‘good’ and ‘believe and receive’ based on thoughts and energy (although I still believe in “the Secret”ish, I now know and fully understand the power and source behind that energy -aka God). Philippians 4:4-9 I have picked as my life verse and embodies all that I have believed and strive to implement everyday of my life.
When I think about God and religion, I think about how so many people “find God” amongst the depths of despair. People in the pits, with nothing left, at their lowest emotionally, physically, financially – you know what I’m talking about! But that’s part of my story, that’s my journey too. I came back to God shortly after my Father’s tragic death in 2015. He died at 57 after a heart attack and my world unraveled. I fell into a deep dark pit, drank too much to escape the pain and didn’t know how to crawl out. My mind swirled with regrets and remorse and grief and anger and all those typical feelings of a tragic and sudden loss of a parent or loved one. My husband and I decided to go to church on Easter, and I haven’t looked back. Death can do that to you… you come close to death or experience something tragic or a loved one dies and it makes you question the big things – the bigger picture, and I did. I questioned a lot – even while we were going to church, it took me months to really really get there, but when I did, I remember that specific moment and the exact feeling that washed over me in that small Pathway Church, in December 2015. It was surreal experience, it was spiritual and it was soul changing. I’ve been hungry and thirsty to learn more and know more ever since – it’s all so incredibly magical! Yep, I said it – I was experiencing magically divine things, those little “coincidences” that come together so incredibly perfect, from all areas throughout life (remember ‘trifecta” at the beginning of this post?). I have journaled through the years, documenting how God is working and inspiring my life, and it’s been a really wild ride! When you look at life that way, and see it as Divine and ‘magical’ if you will; little things become big things, gratitude turns into awe and understanding becomes enlightenment.
Me. Here. Typing this. Sharing my journey… this is the collateral beauty of my father’s death. This is me rejoicing amidst the depths of despair. This is my with inspired joy through life’s mess. This is me opening up my heart and sharing my testimony with you… the good, bad and the ugly. My truth. My journey. My Story… what’s yours?
We all have a story and what a treasure it would be if we shared it. It could be the cliff-notes of your life; lessons you learned, people you admired, adventures you went on… even your testimony- when did you meet God? When did your path twist and turn to Him? And if you’re not there, if you don’t believe, if you don’t have a “testimony”… you have a story to share too. And although “testimony” has a religious connotation, of course everyone has a testimony – the second definition of a testimony is “evidence or proof provided by the existence or appearance of something”. So write your truth about an appearance of something in your life, what would you put in your story? What would it be about? What would be the heartstrings connecting to tie it all together? Because you know what the heartstrings connecting in my life is? God. And His incredible blessings in my life ever day, how He communicates with me, how He guides me, His unimaginable grace, how He is so very evident in my life starting with the gorgeous sunrise and ending with the breaths I take as I fall asleep… I’m in awe of it all and grateful to share it with you.
So, now it’s your turn. I’d love to hear your story; message me, comment here, let’s go for coffee, Skype. I’d love to hear your story because you know what? We all can learn from each other and understand each other better if we knew more of each other’s stories!
To be continued…