As my mother would say...I have a bee in my bonnet. I have a problem with our customary greeting. The one that goes, "How are you?"..."Fine." "How are you?"..."Fine, thanks." Liar.
You who spewed like a volcano over spilled milk and cheerios before putting your four year old into a half nelson in order to get her coat on before preschool drop off...you are not "fine".
You who stopped by the grocery store after the biopsy that will take what seems like an eternity for the results...you are not "fine".
You who are weary from caring for your mom with advanced Alzheimers...you are not "fine".
Why are we afraid to be real?
Why is it not okay to take my story and reach into someone else's story?
In fact, I like that question better..."What's your story?" Wouldn't that be a far better question to ask if we really cared? I think what keeps us from real community with others...for daring to go deep is first - Fear. We are afraid to reach out, afraid of being turned away when we are vulnerable and so we keep people at arms length. Another possible answer is plain old Selfishness. If we were all a little less self absorbed we might find that our heart truly knows how to bleed for others who are broken.
I have been criticized by some for sharing some things in a public forum that should not be shared. In doing so, my aim was not to harm but to help. But maybe I owe some apologies. I do choose, however, to share my story (and that may include people around me) because I strongly believe that my story can bring honor to God and that, ultimately, is what I am here for.
Maybe your story is not all that interesting (or so you think). But, we rob God and we cheat others when we don't tell our stories.
Why? Because Jesus changes our stories if we'll let him. He, and only He, can bring beauty from the ashes of our broken lives and build them into a beautiful testimony. I invite you to take a moment and read my life scripture and take note of the last line, "Many will see and be in awe and put their trust in the Lord." (Psalm 40:3)
"Only when you're broken are you tender enough to wrap yourself around anyone." (Ann Voskamp)
About two weeks ago I nervously drove to an (in) Real Life meetup put together by the wonderful women of (in)courage: www.incourage.me. These were women I had never met in my life and we were challenged to "Open up our ordinary lives" with others in order to build community and find belonging in the sisterhood in Christ.
We watched compelling videos of some of the most well put together Christian women sharing honestly. They talked about being afraid of community, brokenness, hurting places, striving to be perfect, ardently seeking approval, fear of abandonment, abuse, low self esteem...things you never thought you would hear coming out of their mouths.
Then, gulp, we were encouraged to answer the question, "What is your story?"
This was the really hard part...but the more we shared, the more we realized we are not so different. We are not alone. (Sigh of relief) Each of us had to weigh: The cost of sharing my story vs. the cost of remaining quiet. For a gathering with strangers that started at 2 pm., I didn't pull back into my driveway until almost 6 pm. God had met us there and we had shared the fruit of openness. We left feeling like the new "pretty" was showing yourself as a real human being.
"Friendship begins when you can say, 'me too'." (C.S. Lewis)
I wholeheartedly encourage you to break the silence and be the first to share your story. What you bring to the table is incredibly meaningful even if it only seems ordinary to you. Someone, somewhere needs to hear your story. You were given it for a reason. We need to learn to walk intentionally in the ordinary.
Don't look out for your own interests, but take an interest in others too. (Philippians 2:4)
Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:12)
Are you a safe place for people to share their story? Are you brave enough to dare to go deep and tell your story? Together we can "breath life into the space of need". Are you willing to take the plunge with me?
If you are would you take the challenge this week of truly sharing the story of your life with someone? If that's too hard, will you share the story of your week, your day, your hour? Don't waste it...God needs you. Dare to go deep...beyond "Fine".
In His love,