When We Share Our Stories

For the next week, I’ll be posting some of my favorite posts from the archives. I’m speaking at a ladies retreat the first weekend of March, and want to focus on preparing for the sessions I’ll be teaching.

I’ve re-posted readers’ favorites before, but those are not necessarily my personal favorites – the ones that came from the deepest part of me, and seemed to bring some kind of healing and truth to my life as I wrote them. I hope you enjoy them, the second time around!


true story

Do you ever think about how important it is to share your stories?

To tell other people, “On my own, I’m kind of a mess, but let me tell you about what Jesus has done in my life”?

We live in a culture where people share lots of things very openly – social media allows us to expose the everyday details of life in a very public way – much more than ever before. But lots of those details end up being surface stuff.

Do you ever share the deeper stuff? I think that’s the stuff that needs to be shared a lot more than it is.

There’s a story in the Bible (Luke, to be exact) about a man who was possessed by demons. He was completely incapable of living a normal life – he ran around naked, broke chains with his unnatural strength, and lived in a graveyard.

But one day Jesus came along, wasn’t scared by him, and told the demons that it was time to get out.

They didn’t like that idea, so they came up with a different suggestion – they requested to be sent into a nearby herd of pigs. Jesus did this, and as a result, the pigs went crazy, and ran over the side of a cliff into the lake. End of demons.

The man was a big fan of Jesus after this, for obvious reasons. He wanted to follow Jesus wherever He was planning on going. You’d think that Jesus would be okay with that, seeing as He already had a bunch of men traveling with him. But Jesus said to him, “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.”

It was more important for the man to go home and tell his story than it was for him to go with Jesus. That was the role Jesus wanted him to fill.

And then the very next story is the one about the woman who was bleeding for 12 years. She reached out to touch Jesus’ cloak, and was healed instantly.

When she touched Him, He stopped and asked, “Who touched me?” He knew that someone had been healed by touching His cloak. But being Jesus, wouldn’t He also have already known who it was?

I found it really interesting that Jesus made her step forward and publicly announce that she was healed. He made her tell her story to all the people there.

Some people boldly asked for healing, but this woman quietly reached out to touch Him as He walked by. The whole thing could have happened unannounced.

But Jesus stopped and asked her to identify herself.

Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”

Why did He do that? In the presence of all the people…

I don’t know for sure what all of the reasons were behind it, but I do know that something happens to us when we share – when we tell people what Jesus has done for us.

There are times when I really don’t want to.

It makes me look bad when I air my dirty laundry for everyone to see. There’s a part of me that is always, always afraid people will look down on me, and think I’m pathetic, or maybe I’ll end up actually being the only person in the world who thinks such immature, selfish, sinful thoughts.

If I do get brave enough to share the whole “Before and After” story, I’m afraid that people will get stuck on the “before” part, in which I look ugly, rather than the “after”, in which Jesus looks fantastic.

But guess what has happened almost every time I’ve chosen to be open and vulnerable? Someone else has been able to identify with my experience, or gotten the courage to open up too, or been encouraged to keep going when things are really hard.

Good things happen when we share our stories. But we have to be brave, and not listen to the part of us that’s afraid. We have to trust that if Jesus thinks it’s a good idea, then good things will come out of it.


Have you ever had a great experience that happened because you were willing to share your story?

Demons and Flying Objects and Eyes Glowing in the Dark, Oh My!

I can clearly remember the day I was introduced to the idea that spiritual warfare existed.

I was an innocent girl at camp, sitting at a picnic table with my friends, and my camp counselor took it upon herself to educate me.

I sat there frozen to the wooden bench, my eyes probably the size of saucers, listening in horror as she told the story of a young boy who had felt a presence in the room, and turned around to see yellow eyes glowing in the dark. Somewhere in there, either he was thrown at the wall, or an object from his room were thrown at the wall, I don’t remember.

Maybe I was on overload at that point, and things start to get a bit fuzzy….

Anyway. I heard the odd story through the years after that, but I didn’t really face the idea of spiritual warfare until I was in college.

At that time, my mom gave me a copy of The Bondage Breaker, because she felt it would be helpful to use during my summers at camp. I never did come across anything crazy at camp, and I didn’t spend much time reading the book at that point.

One of my friends borrowed it from me, however, and had a really life-changing experience as a result.

After that, another chunk of time past without the topic coming up.

Until the fall Ben and I got married, and moved into our first home, a cozy little apartment.

We had only been married for about two months when really strange things started happening to me. It started very subtly at first – weird thoughts would suddenly zip through my mind out of nowhere. Not “normal” thoughts – thoughts unlike anything I usually thought about. Or sometimes just the same thought, over and over and over again, until I felt like I would go crazy.

I didn’t understand what was happening to me, and decided to try and wait it out.

But rather than going away, the problem got worse. The thoughts going through my mind got increasingly dirty and sinful, thoughts I had no desire to be thinking, but couldn’t seem to stop. I also started having nightmares – worse than anything I’d had before, about extremely dark, violent things. Sometimes when Ben and I were talking in bed before turning out the light, I would have a very real sense that a presence was behind me, and I’d be terrified to get out of bed.

Because the thoughts I was having were so dirty and awful, I felt very ashamed. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, but something inside told me that no one must find out what was happening to me, because had become evil and dirty.

So I kept it all a secret from Ben for as long as I could. But one night, I couldn’t take it anymore, and broke down in front of him.

I was petrified that it would destroy our marriage. I spilled it all out, and then waited in silence for what seemed like forever, terrified to hear what Ben’s reaction would be.

And after that silence, which probably wasn’t all that long, Ben reached out to me, and said, “Kendra, that’s not you.”

He suggested we go see our pastor, because although Ben didn’t know a lot about it, he felt quite sure we were dealing with some kind of spiritual warfare.

I made an appointment, but in the meantime, I remembered my copy of The Bondage Breaker.

One night while Ben was at work, I settled down to do some reading. At the end of the book are many different prayers to use when dealing with spiritual warfare. It is recommended to say these prayers aloud, which I fully intended on doing.

However, every time I tried to say the prayer, I would begin crying uncontrollably. I couldn’t get any words out because I was crying so hard.

I must have tried five different times to say the prayer, only to have my body break out into these violent sobs. I didn’t feel sad, I had no desire to cry, it was just happening to me.

Finally, I managed to get the words out, and could calm myself down. It was an incredibly odd experience. I didn’t really know what I was doing.

Ben and I prayed those prayers together regularly, asking for cleansing for me and for our apartment, until we went to see our pastor.

It was so good to talk with him, because he explained to me how it was not sinful to have those thoughts enter my head, but it would be sinful to choose to dwell on them. Satan is often tempting us with wrong thoughts, and it is possible for him to introduce the thought into our head, and making us believe it’s our thought, and that we do  want to think about it. Our job is to resist.

We went home feeling better equipped to deal with the issue. I started memorizing all kinds of verses about thoughts, purity, the Armor of God, anything to help me fight against the thoughts that wanted to set up camp in my head.

Ben and I also prayed over every room in our little apartment, even the storage room, every day for a month. We prayed every night for protection from awful dreams.

But there was one little problem – in the suggested prayer from The Bondage Breaker, there was a line that said something like, “May the thoughts I chose to fill my mind with during the day, continue to fill my mind at night.”

That assumed the thoughts I had during the day were pleasing to Jesus in every way.

And most of the time, they were, but Ben and I were quite liberal in what we chose to watch on TV. Nothing too crazy, of course. Just the usual stuff.

But every time I prayed about the thoughts I’d had that day, my conscience bothered me. One night, I was in bed, reading my Bible and praying, while Ben was in the living room, watching an episode of Friends on TV.

I loved watching Friends. But when I wasn’t actually watching it, and the lines I overheard were interrupting my devotions, suddenly all the funny stuff wasn’t so funny. I realized how desensitized I was to all of the negative joking, references to sex, and many, many other comments we had come to accept as “normal”.

Well, we decided to clean things up a lot after that. People we talked to about it thought we were ridiculous, but we found that as we regained our sensitivity, our desire to watch stuff we would have in the past…got a lot weaker. I still had twinges of desire, but we kept each other accountable, and stayed strong. Now we don’t miss it at all.

It took a long time (a few months?) to really get control over the thoughts, dreams, feeling just a weight of depression/anxiety/fear that seemed to settle on me for no apparent reason. But eventually, it did get better.

Since then, I haven’t really had much trouble with dreams, but sometimes my thoughts or that old heavy weight type of feeling come back. Then we know we’ve slacked off too much with praying for protection, and haven’t noticed little thoughts or attitudes sneaking up.

So that’s my story. I’m not saying that it’s evil for everyone to watch Friends. Here’s what I am saying:

1. Find out what you’re dealing with. There are good books out there on the topic. Read them.

2. But don’t get into the habit of thinking that everything is spiritual warfare. I heard someone say once that it gives Satan way too much credit. I don’t want to focus on him all the time. I want to focus on Jesus. I would rather pray hard, keep my thoughts clean, be smart, and live a free and joyful life. I really don’t like it when people think every little thing is Satan out to get them. We live in an imperfect world. Junk happens. Pray hard, and carry on. Let’s not get overly dramatic.

3.Take a good hard look at what you give access to, mentally. I have heard sooooo many people say that movies or TV don’t affect them! At all!

But they should. If you’re desensitized, it’s not a good thing. Numb to seeing pain, violence, and sex, and hearing tons of filthy language? I wouldn’t think that would be a desirable thing. I’m not saying we should stick our heads in the sand, and be all legalistic about this. Just be smart. Make conscious choices. Don’t watch junk just because everybody else thinks it’s okay, or because you paid money for your movie ticket. Walking out sucks. It’s humiliating. But very freeing.

4.There is no need to be afraid. Take it seriously, yes. But through Jesus Christ, we have all the power we need. Telling lots of freaky stories to small children is not advisable. Teaching them about the power in Jesus’ name is much more beneficial.

5. Memorizing verses is a very, very, very good thing to do. It is your weapon. Use it.

And that is all for now. If you read all 1500 words I just typed, you deserve an award!

Any other thoughts out there? No scary stories needed, but other comments are welcome!