The Bible promises freedom and healing and wholeness. But I don’t see many Christians who are experiencing those characteristics in their lives. I understand people are complex, and a one-size-fits-all answer is not going to cover all the reasons, but for many, this addresses what I believe to be the core of where healing and wholeness and, consequently, freedom takes place.
I have the incredible privilege of meeting with people for the express purpose of talking with them as they navigate brokenness. Sometimes people refer to this as a type of counseling, but I don’t really see it that way. It is more about showing up, listening, and validating the struggle as they tell their story.
An interesting phenomenon happens when people tell their story. They begin to change how the story affects them. Consistently, telling our story gives us power over it. And that power helps transform our brokenness. It makes beauty from ashes.
But there is a key: We must tell our story. And we work so hard to keep our stories hidden.
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“I am not ready to talk about that yet.”
“I will break down if I say it.”
“That is something I can’t let you know.”
I have heard all of these statements in the last week. It breaks my heart because, having been forced to tell my story, I know what waits for those who will unashamedly tell theirs. I know what hope can be found, what happiness. I know we can all smile again — and from a real place, not the artificial place of trying to keep up appearances.
There are a couple of ways we try to deal with pain. One is to avoid it. We run away from pain. We put pain in a drawer in our heart and hide it from the world. The problem is that it doesn’t go away. It hides, but it also hides us. The real us must remain aloof because knowing the real us would require pulling that pain out of the drawer, and we have worked so hard to keep it tucked in there.
But there is another way, a way that promises to get a little worse for a bit, but in the end will be better than you could have ever imagined. Tell your story. Walk through the pain of it. Oh, I know that it isn’t all pain. But those parts we keep hidden wind up being the big stones we use to mark our path because they are what we focus on, rather than the beautiful moments we have all experienced. We say all kinds of things to ourselves: “I can’t trust people.” “They will hurt me with this.”
Whatever your fear is in sharing, whether it is personal weakness or giving someone else leverage in your life or something else, fear is the drawer that all these hurts are stored. Courage offers us freedom. But in order for us to receive that gift, we must allow courage to open the fear drawer and tell our stories.
In telling our stories, we are known — truly known. The good, the bad, and the ugly. My experience is that our pain doesn’t push people away from us, it is actually what endears others to us. And it forces that pain to give up its control in our lives little by little. And we become whole — free.
May you become the fullest version of you. May you find healing and wholeness and freedom. May you tell your story — and tell it often.