In recent years, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat have added a feature on their platform for a user to share their story. People will often use that feature to share with the world something as simple as a picture of what they ate for dinner or meaningful as them having a baby, getting married, or losing a loved one. What people share on these social media platforms will often give us a glimpse of what is happening in a person’s life; but the reality is, there is so much more to that person’s story beyond what is displayed to the virtual world. Sometimes I wonder, behind that person’s posts, what is their real story?
Over the years, I have grown to understand the power of a someone’s story; or what I like to call their testimony. I define a testimony as an experience in someone’s life where they were met with adversity in some form, but was able to make it through to the other side of that experience. Now that form of adversity is different for everyone. For some that was in the form of a job loss, for another it is in the form of surviving abuse, and for you it might be beating cancer, losing a loved one unexpectedly, or overcoming an addiction. Whatever that adversity is or was for you, that is a part of your story, your testimony, your narrative here on earth.
For some people the adversity that they experienced was extremely painful, where the thought of that experience puts them right back in the emotion that they were feeling at the time of that adversity, which causes them to avoid even thinking or talking about it all together. For others, they might feel some type of guilt or shame about that chapter of their story, and due to fear of judgement from others or this feeling of unforgiveness they carry, they bury that part of their story deep down inside as if it never happened. If that is you, I totally get it. In fact, I’ve been there and have struggled with the exact same emotions. So as you read the next sentence that I’m about to say, I ask you to not to completely shut down and delete this article all together.
Although you were the person who lived through that experience, your testimony is not about you.
Wait, what in the world are you talking about Jocelyn? No, I’m serious. Your testimony belongs to God, and no matter what you might have experienced along your journey, God wants to use your story to help someone else. Now, I must clearly interject a caveat into this narrative before going any further. A person must use wisdom in sharing their story with others. Not everyone is in a place where they are mature enough to hear and respect the sacredness of your story; and the last thing you want to do is share your story at the wrong place or time, and the enemy (Satan) uses it to do more harm than good. However, there will be moments in your life where God says, “I need you to tell this person your story, I need you to share your story with your small group, or I need for you to write a book about your story.” Why would God ask you to do this might you ask? Well, because there is power in your story. I might be willing to wager that there is more power in your story than you even know. For some of you, the mere fact that you even survived what you went through is an absolute miracle. You might not believe it’s that serious, but trust me, there is someone else who went through the exact same situation as you, and they did not live to tell the story. I believe that there is someone right now, someone who you might even know well, who has experienced the same adversity that you encountered, but they are struggling right now. They feel alone, overwhelmed with thoughts of regret, sorrow, and hopelessness, and they are on the verge of giving up. In that moment, the only thing that might help to encourage them is hearing from someone who understands from first hand experience what they are going through, and can tell them that there is still hope.
I’ve lived long enough to learn that you never know the depth of someone’s story. You never know what people are struggling with in silence. You never know the severity of pain that people are masking each and every day as they go along the journey of life. God can use your story, your testimony, to shine a light on someone’s path who is in a very dark place. In the story of Joseph in the bible, he had went through some awful trials, including his brothers betraying him, and being wrongfully accused and jailed. Yet at the end of the story, God redeemed Joseph and placed him in one of the highest positions of authority in the land. I was so blessed by the fact that although Joseph had every right to “feel some type of way” about the people who wronged him, he responded by saying in Genesis 50:20 “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
Joseph responded in a way that was not resentful or bitter, but in a way that gave glory to God. Joseph understood that in life you can experience some terrible things. In some cases you will experience challenges that seem to be unbearable, but at the end of the day, God is still with you through those challenges and God can take what the enemy meant to destroy you and still turn that situation around for His glory. I believe, like Joseph, that many lives can be saved because of you sharing your story.
So before I end this article, I want to encourage you to really take a moment to reflect on your story. Not the story that you put out on social media, but I want you to reflect on your true story of resilience and overcoming; the part of your story that helped to form you into the person you are today. Once you do that, I want you to say a short and simple prayer.
“God, I surrender my story to you. You are the ultimate author and editor of my story, and you have the right to use my testimony in any way you see fit to advance the kingdom. Please give me the strength to share my story when you lead me to do so; and I pray that when I do share my story that others will draw closer to you and have a deeper understanding of your faithfulness even in the midst of adversity.”
I say that prayer with you today and it is my hope that if God is leading you to share your story with us at Faith on the Journey, that you will step out on faith and do so. Someone is waiting to hear your story. Let your testimony be a ray of light for others.
We would love to hear your story. Submit your story on our website at faithonthejourney.org.