Monday, 8 November 2010

Sharing my story

 WARNING - this is a pretty happy clappy Christian post. I feel uncomfortable writing it. I have not suddenly joined a cult or had one of those "moments". I am just being honest and it is how a truly feel. I apologise in advance if it reads as cheesy. Sometimes even in these sophisticated and cynical times cheesy is where it is at.

I was recently asked to share my story at a Mum's group which meets at my church. I am relatively new there so it was a bit weird to think about sharing my life with people who I am only just getting to know. But, I really felt that the time was right and that it was an important step for me to take. In the last few years I have felt like my life is such a wreck and I couldn't see any point in sharing it with others because I couldn't make sense of it myself, let alone give any encouragement to others.

Sitting down to write some notes was really challenging. It is not often that we look over our lives and try to make sense of the story. As I prayed and wrote it was amazing the thread and the meaning I began to see. Things that a few years ago were some important and I was sure were central to my journey just didn't feature and things which seemed incidental or tiny grew into major turning points in my life.

Over the days beforehand I was very scared. I tend to share very openly about my life but sometimes that leaves me with regrets and feeling very vulnerable. Sometimes I have been burnt by sharing with people who just were not safe and who I couldn't trust to treat me gently with the knowledge I had given them. I was also aware of the fact that I didn't want it to be about my ego, even though inevitably it was to a certain degree. And I wanted to provide some encouragement and hope even though I knew some of my story seems sad and full of grief. It was challenging for me to think through those painful times and be honest with myself about whether I had ackowledged them and felt the hurt of them before sharing them with others.

 I talked with a close friend about all of my concerns which helped with all my analysing and worries. I also asked a close friend who has know me a long time to be there so there was at least one face who I knew well and who had walked with me through much of my life. I was so nervous beforehand, which is unusual for me. I am pretty confident speaking to a group but the nerves actually reminded me how important this was to me and also how much I was relying on the Holy Spirit to guide my words.

Once I got started it was like riding a bike when you are first learning and you are afraid to stop because it might tip over. I wish I had referred to my notes a bit more but overall it went well. There were a few tears, not just mine, but I was able to keep going. And I hope I shared not just the pain but also the hope I have now as God continues to work in my life. I really do feel that my life is wonderful now, that so much healing is taking place and that the future looks brighter, fuller and more exciting than it ever has before.

When women share their story in the group it is normal for that women to be prayed for. Being surrounded by these wonderful Mums with all their wisdom, strength and love was very healing for me. Their prayers and the encouragement they gave me was so powerful and felt like God directly speaking to me at this time. For someone like me, who has struggled with doubt and disbelief, it is wonderful to feel open to God again and to truly know he is active in my life right now.

When I was a little girl I read a book about a girl who went to live with relatives in the country in Wales. The family she lived with was huge and loud and messy and as an only child and quite spoilt, it was rather a shock to they system. She struggles with feeling like she doesn't belong and with the reality of the hard things which happen in life. As she learns how good life can be a verse which she comes across in "In My presence is fullness of joy". As I have grown up that verse has stayed with me and as we prayed one of the women said it.

I can say that now I don't just wish for that and wonder what it means. I really do know "fullness of joy" and that even though my journey has really only just begun I can trust that it will be true as I walk, stumble, kneel and dance along with Jesus.

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