Story. Everyone has one. People love to tell them. We spend great amounts of time and millions of dollars per year reading them. Yet, why is it when we encounter a real person, we often have a difficult time asking about their own story?
- Is it a time factor? Are we too busy and don’t have or want to take the time?
- Do we not want to be “rude” or “nosey”?
- Do we just not know what to ask?
- Is it too “messy” to deal with and we really just don’t want to know?
- Could it be that there is something in that person’s story that resonates deep within us and we won’t let our own hearts tread those waters?
- Does their vulnerability open us up to expose our own and we just don’t want to go there?
It seems people spend a large amount of time talking about the weather, a sports team, a political topic, or something else that really doesn’t necessarily have significance in their lives. If we hear of one’s vacation, we want to know details, yet when it comes to overcoming the difficult situations and obstacles of life, it often just rolls over our ears. I have notice that people tend to distance themselves from getting to the heart of someone’s situation or life event. We may talk “about” them and what they went through to someone else, however it is often rare that people step in to investigate what happened, how that person grew as a result, and potentially how we ourselves could be encouraged and benefit from that experience/knowledge.
I recently had lunch with someone whom I had more of an acquaintance with than friendship. We didn’t have a lot of life experiences in common so never really got to know each other, but when I saw her recently, I felt compelled to ask her to lunch. There was no “reason” for getting together, I just found myself asking her to lunch. We ended up talking over four hours, sharing our experiences and exchanging some of our story. What started off with more of the who, what, where, when, & why’s, eventually went into the depths of our hearts. We took time to step in and ask questions to discover meaning and purpose. We both benefited by being transparent, allowing the other to speak truth into our situations, and we left encouraged.
We all have so much we can learn from each other, if we just take the time to engage, ask discovery questions, and listen. Personally, I used to be very shy and
could not would not do this. Although I had a desperate need for help, I would not allow myself to ask questions of those who could have helped me, nor was I transparent to share my pain. I was gripped by fear of them knowing what my life was “really” like…the messy parts. Honestly, it was self-centeredness and was hurting me and others more than I knew. It wasn’t until my world as I knew it came crashing down, that I cried out for help, learned how to ask questions to engage one’s heart, and discover the importance of “story.” First God’s story and then how my own story fits in His.
I know it can be challenging to go into the depths of our own story or listen to another’s. It’s much easier to give the headlines than the details. Yet, does that help anyone overcome their own struggles or point them to a relationship with God?
As a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, I realize that my life is not my own. It’s all about allowing Him to live in and through me to touch the lives of others so they, too, can experience the unconditional love, mercy and peace of God. When I share how God redeemed our dead marriage and how He offers the same to others, it glorifies Him. He’s the Redeemer. It’s not about the messy stuff of our story, rather the answer of how we overcame and live victoriously now. God is calling every person into a deep, intimate relationship, and He does it through people. He does it through our story, or “testimony.” When we testify to what the Word (Jesus) has done in our life, we magnify and glorify Him.
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” Revelation 12:11
- What has the Lord done in your life that you can testify about?
- What have you overcome by having a relationship with Him?
- How can listening to someone’s testimony give you a deeper revelation of God’s love or purpose?
I challenge you to look at your own story and that of another, to discover something great. It’s an investment that could possibly give you direction and meaning, and help you or someone else overcome a difficult situation.