I’ve been sorting through old papers and notebooks dating back to my high school and intern years. When I was an intern, we did – ahem – preaching labs. My notes from those labs and the messages I prepared make my heart sad. I was taught to keep messages short and funny, and to use an illustration from everyday life to somehow share the love of Jesus. The problem is that I’m not a funny person by nature, and the stories were inauthentic, and to me, pointless. I know my heart to help teenagers was good, but I can’t tell you how much I wish I could do it all over and just tell them the truth.
I was obsessed with getting things right – not perfect, but right. Failure terrified me (still does).
I dated a boy too old and far too dangerous for me. Being around that lifestyle and not getting caught made me feel in control when my life was otherwise completely out of control. It gave me the falsest sense of strength.
Some of the things going on in my home made me feel a deep need to not feel, but to manage and control. I worked to harden my heart.
And that’s… The tip of the iceberg.
My story is deep. There have been a lot of years where I didn’t want to talk about it, I just wanted to move on. I spent most of my twenties doing that – moving on. I didn’t want to live from a place of hurt and shame. I wanted to move past it, move forward, and try to grow.
So I didn’t tell my story. I kept it in like a secret, under lock and key. Instead of my story, I told the kinds of stories other people wanted me to tell. Silly ones, shallow ones, pulled together out of an anecdote and a Bible verse, that surely did not mean a thing.
But I can’t tell you how deeply and truly I know the love of Jesus without telling you my story. I can’t tell you all the ways he has set me free and moved me forward without telling you where I was, where I come from. I can tell you all the ways I tried and failed, bootstrapping my way out of one pit into a shallower one, only to know that He was with me. And while there was never one dramatic, sweeping lift from the pit, today I am freer and more alive than I have ever been, and I can tell you it was only because HE lifted me out.
I tell you all of that to tell you this:
The best way to tell others the hope you have in Christ is to tell YOUR story. Humor isn’t for everyone, but if you’re funny, be funny. But don’t be shallow. Be you.