Remember my September story?
How I felt God surprised me with opportunities to companion others’ journeys — more than I anticipated?
Friends, this beautiful surprise continued into the past month!
This wave of goodness caused me to step back and reexamine ALL. THE. THINGS (okay, not really, but almost). Thinking through next steps in offering services was my focus.
Sometimes a crisis makes us stop and reconsider next steps.
And sometimes, it’s the other way around!
The last several weeks I explored various Christian ministries and organizations supporting the stories of women :: particularly women encountering harm within their homes and churches.
Part of my calling and writing centers on bringing awareness and hope to these topics.
As I learned from people much further on the journey…
…as I made connections and outlined partnership possibilities,
my heart felt incredibly encouraged.
The evils of domestic, relational and spiritual abuse seem more rampant within our culture. The impact is harmful and often ignored; perhaps because we believe it couldn’t actually happen in our community circles or we are simply unaware.
The need for change feels large. Yet still, I see God’s handiwork.
He is redeeming the hurt.
Transforming stories of harm.
Restoring hope lost.
Equipping open-hearted spiritual leaders and raising up voices.
While my work sometimes feels stretching, tender or difficult, it also moves me towards God’s promise:
When we allow it, he turns our story ashes into something beautiful.
Yes and amen.
Value in Telling Our Stories
I’ll share of these organizations later and then offer more detail on my other website.
For today, I remind us of this:
God invites us to share our stories.
Throughout Scripture we find a God retelling and recounting his story and that of his people; both beautifully woven into one.
The many God-ordained celebrations of the Old Testament speak of One who welcomes his people to ‘remember, remember!’ the story of their journey** — and then to tell others.
The key word here? Invitation.
As we consider sharing our stories (or asking others to share), let us check:
Are you responding to a holy invitation or a human expectation?
** I recognize certain stories may be best remembered in private, individualized environments such as counseling or therapy.
From experience and a general understanding, it seems we need a few things for successful storytelling:
A desire to share
No one can decide for you how and when, which parts or in which order your storytelling should unfold. We should never pressure anyone to reveal more than they desire.
I’ve led or taught all kinds of small and large groups through the years…and can relate to sticky situations when ‘over-sharing’ happens. Definitely, it takes compassion and skill to work through those!
I also reflect and notice where my past actions could be interpreted as putting pressure; and sometimes I didn’t even notice.
Let’s tread carefully here, friends.
Sharing our stories includes a level of exposure.
Deciding to entrust parts of our journey to a person or group means we release certain outcomes. We cannot control how our story is received!
You can make every effort to be conservative and cautious, honoring and humble.
Check your heart motivations a dozen times. Receive counsel on how to share, when and if you should.
All this — and someone (or many!) may still be offended, angry, think you are over-sharing or focused on self, and a host of other responses.
Does it matter?
Yes and no. More on this in another post!
A safe community
Scripture holds multiple psalms, laments, and prayers of individuals pouring out stories of loss, pain, celebration and praise to God alone.
I believe this a valuable pattern! Writing or journaling for an audience of one also benefits us.
When an invitation arises to share in other relationship circles…
…we need a safe community.
One willing to lovingly bear witness to our story, whether we know them well or not. Choose your company and community with care.
In return, offer safety and this same care to stories you choose to hold.
I’ve appreciated hearing your stories over the last several months — thank you for sharing!