Wednesday, May 6, 2015

What's Your Story? Why It Matters.

your story matters
“However, Jesus … said to him, ‘Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.’” –Mark 5:19 (NKJV)

We all have a story to tell, some even more than one. I know I do. And I know you do too. The question is, do you share it?

One of the online support groups I follow on Facebook runs a very simple ad on its pages. All it says is “What’s your story?” It invites group members to share their experiences with rheumatoid arthritis. At a 12-step meeting I attend, members are likewise encouraged to share their “hope, strength and experience” in dealing with their specific personal struggles. In church, I've heard people get up and give their “testimony” of how Jesus Christ changed their lives. In some venues, stories are shared frequently, while in others they are only shared now and then. But whenever and wherever, in whichever context they are shared, there is one thing they all have in common: every story is unique.

As I have had multiple requests for my story lately, I've had to give thought to the question of “why share?” In hearing the stories of others, the answer has become abundantly clear. Your purpose is to share what’s happened uniquely to you, because God knows there is someone out there who needs to hear your story. Someone else’s story won’t do. Only yours.

If you don’t believe me, just look at the track record of the best-selling book series Chicken Soup for the Soul: a collection of stories from ordinary people who have chosen to share something about their lives, which has gone on to inspire millions of readers. If you pick up one of the books, you’ll probably find yourself as I have, casually reading through the stories, thinking “Well, this is nice…” and then suddenly, you stumble across one that stops you dead in your tracks. “Wow! Her situation was just like mine!” And when you hear how everything worked out, suddenly you have hope. Or you’re inspired to do more. Or you now feel confident that you can put your situation in God’s hands and it will all be OK. You didn’t need all the stories in that book. You needed just that one.

The dilemma we often find ourselves in is that we don’t know which story we need to hear. We may need to hear one story at a particular point in our lives, whereas a different story is what we need at another time. That’s why one story is not enough. If your story isn't fully embraced now, keep telling it. There will come a time when, in the midst of all the other stories, your story will shine through to the soul of the one who needs it, right at that very moment.

Jesus, who many times chose to teach through stories (aka “parables”), knew this truth. In one Bible passage, He said “The kingdom of God is like…” and then used three different ways to describe it. He knew that one analogy wouldn't do it for everyone; that each of us “hear” from our own personal perspective and so we have different sources for inspiration or understanding. Likewise, as He went around healing the lives of those He touched, He would encourage the people He healed to share their stories with others. “Tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you,” Jesus said in Mark 5:19. His purpose was to bring glory to the Father, and He knew that the people’s personal experiences were the greatest testimony of God’s love for them.

My mother, who has been in acute care in the hospital for almost a month now, has many stories she could tell of God’s power in her life. Some she has shared publicly, while others – the more personal, private ones – she has shared with just a few. Two of her most powerful stories are related to her health. Over 30 years ago, with less than a 5% chance of survival, she battled lung cancer and not only survived, but went on to become a competitive ballroom dancer with just one lung. Her story as an "overcomer" has inspired many who needed to know that all things were possible with God.

Today, recently diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, which comes with an uncertain future, her story is different, but just as impactful. My mother’s message today is of the peace and joy she has found in Christ, despite her circumstances. She has truly learned what it means to “let go and let God.” She knows that this is one health battle that she may not in fact overcome physically, but her spirit is being renewed and refreshed every day by the power of the Holy Spirit, so much so that she can’t help but share her story with others – even the nurses attending to her. There in that hospital bed, she is making a difference.

As I said before, we all have a story to tell, some even more than one. I know I do. And I know you do too. The question once again is, do you share it?

No matter if you are still struggling or if you have claimed victory over a challenge in your life, God can use you to make a positive impact in someone’s life today. Pray about the stories of His power and presence in your life and how, or when, or with whom you can share them. If you feel inclined, please feel free to share them here!

What's Your Story? Why It Matters originally appeared on Spring Sight blog, by Linda W. Perkins.  Get even more encouragement by following me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter.

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