Monday, February 28, 2011

Share your Story

As to no ones surprise, when Keme Carter shared her story last Sunday at The Moody Church, we heard incredibly positive feedback from women. And not just women from our church, but even from women who heard Keme online and wrote to tell her how her story encouraged them.

Keme admitted that when she sat down to write out her story, she was terrified. She commented on the Feb 21 posting, "... I was so terrified about giving my testimony that I hadn't even begun writing it. I went home and wrote most of it that evening. One thing I learned from Mary through this process is that we should tell our stories often. It's extremely hard being so vulnerable, but it's all for God's glory!!"

Perhaps a coincidence, but the Monday evening after Keme shared, Mary contacted me and asked if I would participate in a video project she was working on for her Christian Working Women Retreat. (Another lovely woman was scheduled, but had to pull out last minute due to a family emergency.) I'd do anything for Mary, so I didn't hesitate to say yes. However, it was 7pm Monday night and the shoot was scheduled for 11am the next morning! I was to have a three minute testimony written and be prepared to record it the next morning! It wasn't at all coincidence that Mary asked me...she already knew what Keme and I learned...writing out your story IS therapeutic! God showed me so many new things about myself during this process that I had a hard time limiting myself to just three minutes!

Below is the script I wrote. And I was so nervous sharing this on camera that I actually read it while filming, but hopefully you won't be able to tell that when the audience watches the video (don't tell anyone I told you that insider fact!) 

So my challenge to you ladies -- take some quiet time and try to write out a three minute (or longer if you need it) version of your testimony. Ask God to show you some themes He has threaded together over your life that may be a new insight to you. Pray for Scripture to come to heart and mind that will uplift and encourage you through this process. And then, I encourage you to share it with someone. The morning before the shoot, I read my story to a super close friend who knows me well -- I wanted her to tell me if she thought I was being true to myself. Not only did she confirm that I was spot on, but God used her in that moment to encourage me even more. Just what I needed before the shoot!

"My store begins with an end. My parents divorced when I was 8. And this wasn’t the first time they had each been through a divorce, this was a second failed marriage for both of them. Childhood for me, although had moments of joy, was really filled with anxiety, instability, and let downs. My dad was an alcoholic and that played a large part in his two failed marriages. Like many families plagued by alcohol, there were bitter fights and deep emotional trauma.  Although my parents did their best to love and care for my brother and me, right from the beginning of my life I was longing for emotional voids to be met.

Church was not a part of my life so when a friend invited me to her church when I was 13, it was God’s plan that I go and hear the Gospel for the first time. I knew nothing of Jesus accept of what was described that night – He was loving and accepting, He didn’t care where you came from or what your family was like. He would never abandon me, He would always forgive me, He would stand in my place at the Judgment of God and by grace, I would have eternal life. Choosing to accept Christ that night was the beginning of my redemption plan.

I wish I could say that from that moment on, I obediently followed Christ. But like most women, I have struggles...some so big that at times I question whether I’ll ever get over them. I was a product of the world – my moral standards came from what our culture said was right and wrong. My influences were secular and my desires were self-centered. So I wasn’t transformed over night...God’s plan for me has been consistent as He has been stripping me of my deeply ingrained worldliness into eternal desires.

I picked up some habits growing up in my dysfunctional, blended, unsettled family that have been really hard to shake. First, I could put on a front. I could leave the mess at home and prove to the outside world that not only was I fine, but I had it all together. Still struggle with this one today – I’m pegged as the one who is always on top of it. It’s not true. I’m actually quite a mess at times.

Another trait I picked up along the way is one of shame. For example, having a godly marriage and raising children to love the Lord is new to me! It wasn’t modeled when I was growing up, to me or my husband, so we’re clueless at times in our household. I’m afraid that people will judge me and my family b/c of where I came from.

And one other struggle I can thank my roots for – I really want to please you. And I really want you to like me.

If you had told me that part of God’s story for me included working in leadership at a church in Chicago that led other women to the throne of grace, I wouldn’t have believed you. There is no way that God could use my mistakes, my background, my insecurities for the purpose of leading other women. That’s just crazy.

But that is the coolest part about how God can redeem our story is that we cannot dream it up!

Now my job is to tell you all about my baggage and dysfunctional family! Transparency is practically in my job description...the shame is fading and the insecurities, although still there, are be filled by my security in Christ. God’s story for me is still unfolding, but this I know...I’ve been redeemed."

If you take the time to do this exercise, please let us know how it goes! Share you insights and anything you learned in the comments below.

With deep love for my Redeemer,

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