Everyone is “fine,” “great,” “splendid, thank you.” At least, that’s what we say. We go to school, to work, to church, and always put our best face forward. Yes, I said face.
Why don’t we say how we really are? I mean… at least at church. Isn’t church the place where people go for healing, help, and heart? Then why do I feel it necessary to hide my struggles? I had a conversation last Sunday about this. As a girl, we would go to church and hear testimonies from people who God had rescued. The rescue could have been emotional, physical, psychological, it didn’t matter – the point was that some brave soul was telling their story, so the rest of us didn’t feel alone.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the lack of connection amongst people, and perhaps that perfect Instagram persona has also altered the way we are at church.
Or, maybe there was always the struggle between image and reality. It’s just now image is winning more completely. Growing up, we always kept a tight lid on anything that reflected poorly to the outside world. I must confess, however, I yearned for real stories. Authentic glimpses into the lives of others. We listened to a bible study every morning on the radio. It was usually not more than five to seven minutes, but the man spoke about his life and his struggles. One evening a week, we would listen to a radio show called Unshackled dramatizing the lives of people who had been transformed by the love of God. Some Sunday evenings, Saturday mornings, or Wednesday nights, there would be speakers who would come and give their testimony at church. They were real people. People you could touch and speak to. They were proof that God saved.
It was this conversation at church about the book I’m working on that made me think about testimonies. Initially, I finally started the book my husband had been encouraging me to write for years only because I thought I might die and never have the chance to tell my children all I had learned from my mom. Sounds dramatic, right? Well, I was terrified that it was taking so long for my brain to heal and one doctor’s diagnosis made me think that this was only the beginning of the end. So I was determined to write whatever I could down. I desperately wanted to leave something to my children, and I thought that this was the best thing I could give them – all the conversations, advice, and stories we would miss when I was gone. As time went on, my mission changed, grew, morphed into something in addition. It became my testimony. Maybe it wasn’t just my kids that could be encouraged by it, perhaps other people were going through the same thing.
As a person who has always been reluctant to share anything personal, it was a very new experience. I felt compelled. I still feel compelled. My story isn’t about me, it’s about how God has intervened in my life, time and again, to bless, sustain, and save me. That’s what keeps me writing; that’s what makes me press that cranberry “Publish” button even when I’m afraid I’ve overexposed myself. Because maybe my testimony might comfort you.
Mark 5:19 And He did not let him, but He said to him, “Go home to your people and report to them everything great the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.”