I’ve always felt called to write about how God has changed my life by surrounding me with a wonderful community of 20-somethings. I can’t imagine my life without them. I’ve prayed long and hard about this topic. How do I write about community and the vitally important role it’s played in my life? And then I heard God whisper, “Start at the beginning”. Today, I want to share the story that allowed me to feel welcome and able to share my joys and struggles with others. And this single handedly changed my perception of myself and in so changed my life completely…
A few years ago, I was sitting in a room full of women I now call my closest friends. However, back then they were all strangers to me, but the Lord brought them into my life for a reason. It was “girls night” and along with eating junk food and consuming way too much sugar we took an opportunity to truly get to know each other. The task was to map out your life on a timeline with the high’s on the top and the lows on the bottom. The top of my timeline was full and the bottom was pretty empty. As I looked around the room at the beautiful pictures others were drawing I noticed that my “bottom” was so empty in comparison. I began to feel very insecure, which is so silly now that I look back. Why should I be insecure instead of grateful that the top of my timeline was over flowing and the bottom was close to empty?
The time came when we had to share with the group. All of the women spoke for around 5-10 minutes then it was almost my turn. I was incredibly nervous to share my timeline. Thoughts of insecurity ran through my brain, “would they think I was a phony? Did I miss something? Do I even belong here?” Then the young woman sitting next to me began to speak about her life and what growing up was for her. She told a story that was nothing short of a shocking to me. Her life had so many twists and turns that not even a Hollywood movie could depict a life like hers. She spoke for 20-30 minutes and we were all captivated and sitting on the edge of our seats.
When she was finished, she looked over at me and with a smile and said “Your turn!” Panic washed over me and I could barely breathe as I tried to find the words to lead into my “Happy Cheerleader Life”. So I did the only thing I could do, I was honest. I explained to her and the group that I felt ashamed and selfish for telling my story after hers. I wanted to tear up my time line and just hug the woman next to me. I wanted to be the one to take away all of her pain. “I would rather not share my story.” I told her. I waited for her condemnation. I waited for her to tell me that I was right and that I had no business sitting next to her or even sitting in the same room with her. But to my surprise, she smiled and said “I would love to hear your story, because it’s yours and no one else’s.” I took a deep breath and I told my story, I felt ashamed and embarrassed the whole time. I sped through as fast as I could and it lasted all of 2 minutes because I just wanted to be done. When I finished, I shared that I felt angry with God. Why did he allow me to have such a wonderful life when there are others out there that clearly deserve it more than I do? Believe it or not her response to me on that day is the reason I write. She said, “Don’t ever be angry with God for giving you the life you’ve lived. Be thankful. I loved hearing your story because it gives me hope that my kids won’t grow up with the life that I had. I’ve never known that a life like yours could exist before this moment. Thank you for giving me hope.”
And then WHAM! Jesus slapped some sense into me and showed me that He needs me to share my story… and so I will write it. Jesus spoke to me through her simple words and gave me the confidence I needed to further His kingdom. Mind Blown. Life Changed.
To this day, the young woman is one of my closest friends. She knows me inside and out. She allows me to lean on her when I need too. Truth is, I have many women in my life that will carry me through as I carry my burdens to the ultimate healer. I’m the one on the stretcher as others carry me to meet Jesus for healing. And if I can, I will carry your stretcher too.