There’s a game I like to play, and it never fails to catch people by surprise. Here’s how it works: I invite someone to grab coffee and once we’ve found a comfortable seat, our hands wrapped around a cup of something delicious, I look into their eyes and say these words: “So, what’s your story?”
Almost every time, they hesitantly respond, “My story? What do you mean, exactly?” I then offer to go first, to share with them the pages He has given me to live, and for the record, I don’t sugarcoat a single thing. By the time I finish, I can see the relief in their eyes, not because I have masterfully woven together life experiences into a beautiful story but because I’ve been honest, I’ve shown the mess of it all, and I’ve dared to say that the scars that remain are signs of His grace. My tests have truly become my testimony, my mess turning into my message.
After I finish the telling, I turn it over and ask again, “Will you tell me your story?” And this time, instead of uncertainty or panic, there is peace. You become a safe place when you share your story, both the broken and the beautiful, with another.
And so they begin and every time I’m in awe of the broken off pieces and the jagged scars from the hurting places — not because they’re messy but because His grace is enough for us all, running in and washing over, healing and mending, changing and cleansing.
We’ve all walked roads that have battered and bruised, wounding us deep. We each carry scars. I used to hide mine, the one on my head from brain surgery and the ones on my heart from the times community walked right out. But not anymore. I’m learning that scars tell the stories of battles fought and won, of fears conquered and dreams chased, of mighty healing and of Jesus meeting us in the dry valleys.
Your scars tell your story, and although you are more than your past, more than what you have experienced, gone through or done, every moment has been used to shape you into a new creation, redeemed and made whole, holy and blameless in the eyes of He who sees your scars and your burnt places, your struggles to join Him and walk on the water, as a page in a best-seller He is joyfully writing.
Too often we compare our beginning to someone else’s middle, our behind-the-scenes to someone else’s highlight reel. It’s easy to get caught up in comparing our painful places to someone else’s promised land, forgetting that we’re still journeying and we can trust the unknown of the future to the God we know is authoring its pages.
Every sentence He writes is written with the purpose of pointing people to the Friend who is always walking with us. We’re invited to live and tell our stories, giving Him all the glory. Paul said it this way in 2 Corinthians:
We don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! . . . God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.
We have been given the task of telling everyone what God is up to in our lives. He has given us a story to live and it may have twists and turns, roads we would rather not walk and ampersands (in between seasons) we would prefer to hurry through to the other side, but He calls us to speak from those places and glorify Him on every page, daring to say He is beautiful and true, loving and kind, no matter what story the next page may tell.
This is an excerpt from my book Even If Not: Living, Loving, and Learning in the in Between. It was published, with permission, at (in)courage last week. I’d love for you to visit and leave a comment over there!
The print shown in this post is one of nine Even If Not prints. They’re all available for free — click here for all the details and info on how to download.
Copyright © 2015. All rights reserved. Do not republish the content of this blog post in any way without permission from the author.
The words on these two free prints are ones I need to hear in my right-this-second life. Maybe you do, too? I spent this weekend working on the next edition of The Table -- my monthly(ish) newsletter full of behind-the-screen updates, in-process thoughts, my favorite...read more
This secret has been nearly two years in the making, but today I finally get to share the news! In the fall of 2016, I was invited to contribute to the Bible. Yes, the Bible. And I'll be straight-up honest with you... I thought and prayed about it for a while. I...read more
I’ve been asking God where He is. On Sunday, we sang these words in church: I am chosen, not forsaken. I am who You say I am. You are for me, not against me. I am who You say I am. I hung my head and raised my hands and wondered if faith sometimes looks like singing...read more
2018 has been jam-packed with incredible books releasing, and this final list is no exception. For the first time, I've split the Can't-Miss List into three posts: January-April, May-August, and September-December -- because there were just too many books to narrow it...read more
One of the ways I intentionally practice appreciating the beautiful but so-very-ordinary stuff of real life and regular days is by keeping track of what I’m learning. It’s far from complicated, but somehow jotting down notes of the small, the sacred, and everything...read more
I didn't want to write this book. I put it off, came up with a dozen reasons why it wasn't the right timing, and told God that He had picked the wrong girl. His response was kind but clear: to do anything else would be disobedience. Three years ago today, I opened a...read more
No one stood up when the credits began to roll. Whispered wows mixed with the sound of sniffling as we reached for tissues, blinked our eyes, and stayed for just a moment longer. Like so many others, I grew up watching Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Childhood memories...read more
If you're empty, exhausted, or overwhelmed today, this is for you. To be honest, I wrote it for myself because I desperately needed a reminder of hope in the midst of the crazy. I took this picture of limestone and teal, of bright red flowers blooming tall, two years...read more
You are talented. Before you shake your head, deny those words, and click the little red X on this page, let me ask you a question. Do you remember the parable of the three servants who were given different amounts of talents? I’ve been thinking about it recently,...read more
Do you see the mountains? They were clear as day in person, but I just about missed them as I scrolled back through my photos from Israel. You may have to squint, but they’re right there in between the blue water and the blue sky. And forgive me for turning everything...read more