Being Generous with Our Stories
“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia…” Act 22:1-30
Dave and I sat in the exam room, each holding a two-week-old baby. My face was wet from crying and we each looked like people in desperate need of a good night’s sleep. But still, we were laughing as little August and Corinne’s doctor expounded on the difficulties he and his wife had had when their children were babies. We left the doctor’s office with a referral for me to see a therapist for treatment of my postpartum depression, the knowledge that our babies were healthy, and (perhaps most importantly) the assurance that we were not the only people in the history of the planet who had ever had trouble adjusting to life with a new baby. By sharing the story of his struggles with new parenthood our doctor had helped us to feel less alone in our struggles and had given us hope that better parenting days lay ahead of us.
When we think about generosity we don’t usually think of “our stories” as something that we can offer up in service to the Lord. God wants to use every aspect of our life however to accomplish His purposes. As we entrust them to Him this will include our backgrounds, experiences, struggles, triumphs, fears, and hopes: our stories.
There were many passionate believers in the early Church but God was especially able to use one believer, with a remarkable background, to spread the Good News; Paul. One of the main reasons that Paul’s testimony about Jesus was so powerful was because of Paul’s story, and it is a story he told often. He had been known for fiercely persecuting believers until, of course, his conversion to the Jesus Way on the road to Damascus. Throughout his ministry Paul used his story to help build up the kingdom of God. He often reminded people that he had previously been an enemy of the Church so that the power and grace of Jesus Christ could shine all the brighter through his life.
Paul wasn’t the only apostle who blessed generations of Christians by sharing his story, even when the details made him look bad. Simon Peter also shared his story to build up the church. He did not keep secret what must have been the most regrettable night of his life, the night he denied even knowing Jesus three times. Because Peter didn’t bury his failures, but talked openly of them, we are all able to be comforted, encouraged, and emboldened by reading about the grace that Jesus shows Peter after His resurrection.
If Paul, Peter, or any other of the story-sharing disciples of Christ, would have chosen to keep the details of their past and present circumstances and choices private our scriptures would be anemic, and the Church probably would not have grown as powerfully as it has. You and I also can build up the Kingdom of God by sharing our stories. This does not mean that we need to broadcast every detail of our lives, regrettable and otherwise, everywhere we go. It does mean though staying open to sharing our stories as the Spirit prompts us.
Dave now sees new moms on a regular basis. Some of them struggle with postpartum depression. I have given Dave permission to share any detail of my story he feels would help a struggling new mom. He often does this, and just hearing that another woman has felt the same way is sometimes enough to lighten the overwhelmed mom’s heart or convince her to seek treatment for depression.
As we live into the belief that God can move mountains let us all trustingly lend our stories to the work of mountain moving.
Dear Loving Lord, I entrust You with every detail of my life. Please open my eyes to where I may build up Your Kingdom by sharing my story. Amen.
Now Go and Do: Is there any aspect of your story that you have been afraid to share with others? Who do you know that might benefit from knowing that part of your story? Consider sharing your story with that person.
Love, Your Generosity Project Team (Adrienne Danielson, Deb Hess, Shari Fuhr and Marlys Mathiowetz)