In my Sophomore year of college I was introduced to Anne Lamott. Basically, she is a fabulous writer who writes raw words and loves Jesus. She’s also basically nothing like me.
But I couldn’t help be drawn to the way she unapologetically exposed herself. The way she wrote all the words about her life and never failed to tell her own sin and her own struggles, and all her hopes for the future.
I loved that…
“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have treated you better.” This is what Lamott says. And there is a good lesson to be learned in this…but there is also more to be gained.
In the gospels, we see followers of Jesus openly sharing their past, their identity. A bunch of smelly Shepards, a young woman from a small village, an elderly woman in a temple, a tax collector, a prostitute, a thief, the diseased, a proud wealthy young man.
There are no “positive spins” spoken about the actual state of a persons life: gender, sin, brokenness..it’s all so openly shared in the pages of scripture.
Listen. There is a common denominator in all of this.
The Gospel is for the U N L I K E L Y.
When we don’t share our stories, there is no evidence of the Gospel’s power in our lives: WE are the testament of its validity.
I have always struggled with how to “own” my story while also honoring the dishonorable, while also “loving my neighbor as myself” and while “loving God with all my heart and soul and mind”. I don’t think I quite have it figured out. But I DO know this…
- your neighbor is not disqualified from being loved because of their actions
- everyone sins and Jesus requires MERCY to be extended to ALL regardless of whether or not it is ACCEPTED
- it is possible to tell all the things that happened to you while simultaneously offering undeserved grace…EVEN IF the offender has never changed
CS Lewis said, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”
And he has forgiven the inexcusable in me.
This is what I want: to humbly and truthfully use MY story to further the healing truth of the Gospel. Because all that has been done in me is a testament to the power of Christ in me. Nothing less.
I have said it before and I will say it again that stories are the most powerful method of communication we have. This is why Jesus spoke in parables. This is why God chose a story to be the vehicle by which he would rescue us. Jesus entered earth on the heals of prophecy.
Tell your stories. But do it with honor. Do it with love. And always give our great God all the glory for what he has done in you. Your life was given for you to share…not to keep hidden in the dark. Just as Jesus sat among the least and entered their days, so must we SIT and ENTER.
YOU and I are evidence of HIM.
WE are his workmanship.