It was a random day thirty-two years ago when a high school friend and I met up.
We both had went our separate ways after graduation and we’re meeting to reconnect.
I secretly wondered if she’d found her way yet, because I felt like I was doing more wandering than anything else.
Even though I’d spent the last year serving in the inner city of Philadelphia, I felt like the more I learned about myself the more I became confused.
As we sat face to face, across a small table in our local Pizza Hut she openly and unashamedly unpacked her story for me.
We’d been good friends in High School, I really thought I knew her well.
We had hung out at each other’s houses, we shared favorite songs and even dressed alike.
We did all the things teenager girls do but sometimes even then we can bury secrets.
The part of our stories we’d both hidden in fear for being found out, even in the presence of a good friend.
But this day was different.
She chose to rip the covers off the part of her story she’d been burying for years and told me of how she was now living freer of all its shame.
Something shifted inside me as she exposed her soul.
It wasn’t what I expected.
I’d been hiding my stuff for years, so far down I hadn’t even taken the time to sort through it myself.
I’d been protecting it, hiding it and armoring it up.
But that day something within me was awoken.
Like a valiant warrior ready to meet their foe.
I too held a story within the walls of my chest.
A story that needed to be spoken.
Would I be rejected because of its shame-full tale?
Would it determine a destiny of failure for me?
These were the nagging questions telling me to bury it deeper.
Yet as I heard my brave friend speak with such passion and life as she uncovered her wounds, I realized none of her story was ugly or repulsive.
But rather it strangely yet powerfully drew me in…closer.
Her story connected with something living deep inside me.
As she told her story it brought forth my story.
I didn’t share mine that day I just sat on the edge of my seat as hers held such mystery and meaning.
Our stories are powerful like that.
They’re painfully beautiful and who we are.
And yet we can spend countless years running away from them.
I wanted to stand up that day and scream…
Because my soul felt so alive,
as if it’d been given words it was longing to speak.
I spent the entirety of the next few months getting acquainted with my story.
At first I saw myself through a rigid and judgmental lens.
I think times of introspectiveness can easily become clouded by the images of comparison blocking a clear view of ourselves.
My reflection was filled with scars full of pain.
And the more I stripped away the uglier they became….
-I’d spent years worrying about what others thought of me.
-I mirage my pain with humor and being the center of attention for fear of rejection.
-I often spoke my inadequacies out loud because I feared others might speak them if I didn’t and that seemed far too painful to endure.
-I lived my life never feeling like I was enough…smart enough, tall enough, skinny enough, talented enough or good enough to ever become noteworthy.
-I deeply longed to be known and seen.
As I ran my fingers over my scars for the years to come and uncovered them one by one…I found something noteworthy…
I found that my markings beautifully told moments of authentic living.
And we all possess them.
They’re our stories.
They tell where we’ve come from and were we’re headed.
They tell broken tales of rejection and brave moments we’ve overcome.
And although our stories describe us, they don’t define us.
They’re powerful when shared and heal hearts when told.
They give our souls life and breadth.
no more hiding and covering them up.
Our story’s are not meant to be left untold, they’re meant to be re-told
….again and again.
Because it’s a person.
Who’s beautiful…and it’s YOU!
Our stories contain strands of God’s story and he’s given them to us to carry into our broken world.
Speaking your story inspires other human beings to tell their story and soon these brave messages of hope reach the ends of the earth like they were meant to do.
Stories do travel, they travel with us wherever we go-they go too.
I thoroughly believe in the power our stories hold…