“Someday I’ll tell you where I’ve been. It will scare you.” -Yrsa Daley-Ward
Before I had a relationship with Jesus, I had a relationship with bad choices.
You see, I was in a place where everything that was bad for me seemed appealing, and everything that was beneficial made me want to run away.
I made a lot of bad choices. I experienced a lot of heartbreaking, life altering, soul-crushing things. I allowed myself to become a person who was hard-hearted, bitter, angry, hurtful, and inconsiderate; to myself and the people around me. I was, for all intense and purposes, a bad person. The choices I made and the situations I’ve experienced are things that it has taken a long time and a lot of growth to move on and recover from.
I’ve changed a lot since those days. It’s been a long and painful process, trying to make myself a better person. It’s a process that I know I never would have been able to succeed at, if not for the Godly people and mentors in my life. It’s been a process that has had a lot of backslides and missteps. It’s been a process that took conscience choices to avoid certain topics or experiences that I thought would make me slip up. And it’s a process that I’m still going through.
I can look at myself and see a change so big and drastic, that it’s nothing short of miraculous. However, I also see all the changes and growth I still have to go through.
Recently, I had a conversation with one of my closest friends, where she told me that she’s never really heard me tell stories or talk about my high school years. I responded by telling her that I wasn’t really a good person in high school, so I don’t really tell stories from that time in my life. She told me that she was sure that I wasn’t really that much different than I am now, I was just being over-critical towards myself.
This little thing said by one of my friends, has been filtering through my mind almost daily since that initial conversation. You see, I don’t dislike being considered a good person. The fact that there are people in my life who think I’m a good person is such an encouragement to me. However the above conversation with my friend is a conversation that I have with people more often than I want to believe. People in my life now, don’t think that I ever could have been different than I am now, and that makes telling stories of my “Bad Years” really hard.
A few months ago I went to state youth convention as a leader with my church’s youth group. While there I was in a situation where I had opportunity to share advice earned out of experience to four of the high school girls. And I choked. I couldn’t bring myself to tell those girls about my “Bad Years”, because I was afraid that, like my friend, they wouldn’t believe that I had actually experienced the things I was telling them about. Or that they would believe me and then judge who I am now because of who I was then. Both outlooks are equally as scary.
I’m almost certain that I’m not the only person who has stopped themselves from sharing, because of fear.
Fear of judgement. Fear of disbelief. Fear of misunderstanding about what or why you’re sharing. It’s all scary.
But the thing is, God uses our stories.
Last week I went to lunch with one of the high school girls at the youth group. While there I was given the opportunity to share with her my salvation story, and unlike the incident at youth convention, I shared it with her. I told her my story from start to finish. I told my story with every unsavory detail. I told my story with as much openness and vulnerability as I could manage. And after I told her my story, she thanked me for being real with her. She then proceeded to tell me something that she’s been dealing with lately that made her relate to something in my story.
I’ve come to learn that sharing is hard. Telling the stories from the “Bad Years” is hard.
But telling those stories is so worth it.
God uses our stories from the hard times in ways we can’t imagine.
Telling our stories helps us relate to others.
Telling our stories helps us to grow and recognize our growth.
Telling our stories is one of the most freeing things you can do.
So, If I’m right, and there are other people who have struggle with telling those stories, remember any progress is still progress.
You should tell those stories. Even when it’s hard. Even when your voice is unsteady and your hands are sweaty. Even if it makes you feel uncomfortable and insecure. Even when you are afraid of judgement and disbelief. You should tell those stories.
The things is, after I started telling my friend those stories from my past, she understood my current struggles so much better and she was able to relate and tell me some similar stories from her past, and now our friendship is stronger because we can support each other better.
Telling your stories about God and His power and redemption in your life, will always bring blessings. To me, that knowledge is reason enough to tell those stories.