Your Story Matters. [Can I tell you why?]

| Your story matters | it will change someone's life. There is hope that cannot be birthed without your story being shared. Encouragement will remain hidden if your story isn't told. There are parts of your story that will bless others, teach others, and -most definitely- heal others. I guarantee that the darkest and most painful parts of your story are the Exact Things that will bring restoration, hope, encouragement, and healing to another. The Oregon Coast - the most beautiful sunsets

I'll tell you what: My biggest fear was once adultery; I once believed that marriage without it was impossible. I feared having my someday-husband wake up and decide I was unattractive and quite a thorn in his side. I feared having Littles running around a broken home being raised by parents, separately. I have heard countless stories of broken marriages and dysfunctional families because of this painful thing. But one day I was told a story of adultery in a marriage...and healing occurred and restoration and complete redemption. When I heard this story, the most painful and dark parts of this couple's story, I was shed so much HOPE, encouragement, healing. Because, though it had occurred, there was wholeness that only Jesus can bring. And for one of the first times, I believed in true freedom and had confident hope for all circumstances.

The deepest and most broken parts of your story is what will heal another.

Your story matters. This week at camp, I was asking people their story. Never have I regretted asking someone's story; even if they reject the offer. It is always worth the risk of rejection to know someone's story. And to offer them a voice, listening and caring ears feels to me like offering an expensive gift. We learn and we feel and we grow from others. We become more whole. I believe that hearing someone's story not only changes and transforms the listener...but also the teller. The human who has lived and is living this story is blessed in knowing someone cares; transformed by being given a voice.

Sharing stories does stuff to us. Compassion stirs within and we are shown how very similar we are: humans living in a broken world, wandering, in search of Something Good. Something Hopeful. Something. I believe the more stories we hear and share, the less we will hate.

So many stories at camp. So many humans walking around with baggage and brokenness and lies that they believe. Shame that shouldn't even be a Thing is ever so evident.

I didn't have this big planned out strategical Thing to hear stories. It began by simply noticing an employee, a young girl, watering flowers. I've seen her around, quietly working, scrubbing the showers and restocking the toilet paper for years: keeping camp sanitary so we can enjoy our time. Her name is beautiful. She is young and precious and has the longest eye lashes and she is just sweet at 17. She is working to help pay her family's bills, hoping to one day go to college. Her story reminded me that we all have a voice, even if it's quiet; we all need friendship even if we don't let on our loneliness; we all need other humans. She reminded me to look beyond the obvious and seek out the forgotten. The unseen. Her story matters.

Because camp sunsets are simply the best and this is the beach my whole life was changed.

I'll share a small part of two stories of some very precious high school students whom I now just adore and cherish and love. You guys, it was a water works festival on that boat dock. I mean full on ugly cry for my face as it crumbled because my soul ached for the story they have. I ached for them and also the humans causing the hurt. One was another employee - she lives in Idaho but was sent here to WINEMA for the summer to work. I asked her about her beautiful tattoo, because I love learning about people, and what better way to learn about someone than ask about this Thing that they have engraved into their very skin? She stated that it was a long story - I reminded her of the hour we had.

The first 7 years of her life, we will call it: CHAOS. Horrendous things. Commence a few of my very own tears.I learned Her Story of living through the foster system, then adopted by a family member who she now calls her mom and dad. I learned so much from her. One thing I'll share that I learned: if we enter our names into the pool as foster parents, it blesses the kids we hope to love by being adamant about keeping siblings together. She told me of the deep ripping that occurs when your only flesh and blood is torn from you and you have no way of contacting them. Commence tears forming into ugly sobs. I learned a lot from her story.

Next, I heard a small bit of His Story on that boat dock. And it matters. I simply asked him if he had a story he wanted to share. A quiet young man, I didn't want to make him feel uncomfortable. But out fell the words, "I'm adopted too." Commence soul drop. You guys, we want to adopt so badly and here are two almost-adults that we can ask questions and learn from who were adopted themselves.

As they each shared some of the rough spots of it all and the difficulties and the sour patches, my soul also ached. From His Story, I learned a few things: if we adopt, don't make the child's parents some Hidden Secret Thing. That only seems to cause more damage, less trust, and more confusion. It creates a barrier. Talk about it, be open, be honest. Let it be a thing. He simply wants to know where he came from.

I learned from them. I was given hope by them. I was encouraged by them. I know them a little more and know how to pray for them. I now have a deeper understanding of them, more compassion, more...soul. I am a more whole person. Our eyes would meet as we walked through camp exhausted, but we would know that the other knows Our Story. So many more conversations were shared following that afternoon. Our hearts were knitted together and only by the power and love of Jesus does this happen. And what a gift. We would see each other know that we are known, at least slightly. We would have this confidence that we are loved and cared for by each other, simply because we heard from each others' mouths that we are human and we are broken and we can share a bond of brokenness.But more than that, we share a deep bond of unity and redemption. Unity by Christ, redemption through Christ, because Christ adopts us all. Christ claims us as His.

Because camp. And beautiful camp ladies.

Oh the stories. Friends, we wouldn't be who we are without our story. Rafiki from The Lion King said, "The past may hurt...but we can run from it or we can learn from it." We can learn and grow and be transformed into something more beautiful...or we can stuff it, hide it, run from it...and carry extremely unnecessary shame. And more than likely, someday, it will explode out of you in an unfortunate way.

As I heard many kids tell me things that brought up way too many memories of my own story, I sobbed. I sobbed because I didn't want these kids to even know pain. I didn't want them to see what they see or endure what they endure. I wanted to protect them. But I would be ripping their story from them. They would miss out on leaning into Jesus deeper and deeper. They would miss opportunities of compassion upon others, because they know pain and brokenness. They would miss out on the freedom that follows painful and messy and pure forgiveness {forgiveness that makes no sense}. The most broken stories offer the most radiant redemption. The darkest and most burned ashes produce the most beautiful creatures.

Feeling deeply often seems a curse, but it is a major blessing. It is a gift.

So many stories and so much brokenness. Though this brokenness and pain are a part of our life, they do not define who we are. You are defined by a love so great that it is not measured. We are not to carry shame for the story we have been given. But carry it with you to bless others, even especially through the darknesses of it. Share it and tell others of the hope they may have because of the healing you have come to. There is no shame in who you are or what brought you to where you are. You are beautiful and your story is radiant. Unique. Yours.

There must be a way we can opening and guiltlessly share our stories and still honor those part of them. In my eyes, we are all broken and have moments we feel like we are drowning.

Mushrooms only grow in the dark. That is the same with pain, shame, sin, and anger. Until we shed light on these things, they will continue to grow and deepen. Shedding light exposes the brokenness and offers freedom, an honest way out. You know what else? So much freedom and so much healing. I told my girls that sometimes we are in a prison of sorts and the crazy thing is, the door is unlocked. Christ has already set the captives free. All we must do is walk across the threshold and out of the prison cell, into His wide open and welcoming arms. He knows our Story more than any. He aches with our brokenness and celebrates our freedom.

How good it is to be known. Your story matters and needs to be heard and shared. You matter only because of Jesus. Without Him, we are nothing. [Part of] The Good News is that Jesus knows the deepest and most intricate parts of your story. He knows the darkest of the darknesses and the brightest of the brightnesses. He knows and He sees you and you matter.

You guys. Words and stories are power. If you have a story you want to share, please let me know and I would love to hear it. I want to listen. I want to learn and be broken and joyed with you. If you live not in this corner, the PNW, send me an email. I looooove getting emails from readers. It is possibly the most encouraging thing for this small little blog.

I love stories and I would be honored to hear from you.

Your story matters.

 

Snippets of the two stories shared were shared with permission.