Why It’s Important to Tell Your Story
A good friend of mine asked me the other day how my phone screen got cracked. I paused, then asked her “do you really want the truth?” It’s a fair question – because the story is a little messy.
Sometimes I don’t think people really want the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And other times I just don’t want to tell the whole truth. Because the truth can be complicated. The truth can expose more than I’m willing to share. But the truth is real, gritty and honest and it’s where real relationships begin.
Recently my teenage boys asked me, “mom why don’t you drink beer?”
An internal dialog played out in my mind and ended with me in the hot seat screaming just like Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!” Part of me DID NOT want to share, but I strongly believe…
When we are authentic and honest, we invite others to do the same.
So I decided my boys could handle the truth of “why mom doesn’t like beer.” It went something like this…So when mom was your age, she lacked the wisdom that you both have. When your mom’s friend handed her beer and encouraged her to “shotgun” it…she did. And she got sick as a dog. That’s why I don’t drink beer. Plus I don’t like to belch.
Our stories make us relatable.
Do you know what happened with my boys? My answer to their question sparked an amazing conversation. It was relaxed… questions were asked and thoughts and ideas were shared. It was real and it was beautiful.
My messy story opened the door for real connection.
God has hand written each of our stories.
You [God] know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day. Psalm 139:15-16 MSG
Really our stories are His stories and meant to be shared. Our individual stories are what connect us to God’s bigger story. Our stories expose how Jesus is working in our lives and who He really is.
Mustering up the courage to be real? Here are four things to consider…
1) Your story is not debatable.
It’s what makes you relatable, real, authentic and truly yourself. So tell it “as is” – including the stuff you want to hide in order to protect the illusion of perfection.
2) Share your story not your opinion.
Opinions start arguments. Stories start conversations. I was at a dinner party chatting away with a couple who had girls the same ages as my boys. Everyone was enjoying the moment until the conversation landed on politics. Ouch. As this guy shared his opinion, things quickly got tense. The look on my face told him I didn’t share his opinion. So I did what we all would do, changed the subject to a far less controversial topic…PORNOGRAPHY. You know why this dicey topic was not heated? It’s because we discussed how we see it impacting our children who we love, their culture and futures. We did not debate our opinions. Our personal experiences connected us and understanding followed even with different perspectives.
3) We don’t have to tell everyone everything.
That’s not being real, that’s just being really weird. Consider your audience. Be real and appropriate. The purpose of being real with your story is to offer a real picture of who you are. It’s not meant to be fuel for gossip or a vent session. Context and common sense go a long way.
4) Our stories shape us and when we share them, they influence and shape others too.
Remember my friend who asked about my cracked phone? She had also asked if my husband (Scott) and I would share our story to some married couples. Our only qualification is we’ve been married 22 years and still love each other. I decided she must know the truth…so I told her, “In the middle of a heated conversation with Scott, I abruptly and firmly smacked my phone down on the counter. You can fire us if you want.” She still wants us to share. Why? Because she knows real stories encourage, create space for connection and build community. Real stories offer real hope. So Scott and I decided to be real about our marriage and share…even if we feel a bit exposed.
One last thought my friends – this is something I know to be true – God takes everything in our lives and uses it for our good and His glory. So go be brave and real with your stories!