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?

Behind the Scenes of My Personality

Sometimes I wonder if anyone else could possibly feel as socially awkward as I do in certain situations.

Apparently they do, but it’s always hard to believe, because everyone else looks so normal. I suppose I look normal sometimes, too, but it doesn’t always feel that way inside.

I have a very sweet new friend I’m getting to know who told me the other day that she thought I must always be cool and calm in any situation.

What a reminder of how deceiving appearances can be! Cool and calm…well, hardly ever, on the inside, at least.

But if I can fake it, so can everybody else. Do you ever wonder what people would really be like if they were completely transparent?

Maybe it would be scary. Or bonding and unifying?

I love what Donald Miller writes in Searching For God Knows What about Adam and Eve. Pretty much, they didn’t have a care in the world. They felt completely loved by God, and they needed nothing else. They could just freely wander around the new world, buck-naked, free, and secure. Until the day everything was ruined…

I started asking myself why Moses would say five times that people were naked before the Fall, but after the Fall they went around with clothes on… The very first thing that happened after Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was that they noticed they were naked. And man, I couldn’t stop thinking about how whatever happened at the Fall made them aware they were naked…

Here is what I think Moses was saying: Man is wired so he gets his glory (his security, his understanding of value, his feeling of purpose, his feeling of rightness with his Maker, his security for eternity) from God, and this relationship is so strong, and God’s love is so pure, that Adam and Eve felt no insecurity at all, so much so that they walked around naked and didn’t even realize they were naked. But when that relationship was broken, they knew it instantly. All of their glory, the glory that came from God, was gone… (Searching For God Knows What, source)

And we’re still longing for that glory.

I am definitely pro-clothes. The point is not being naked.

The point is feeling that secure in God’s love, that free to be completely yourself, and not always be thinking about what is socially acceptable behavior. I know some people pretend not to worry at all about what people think of them, but everybody, no matter how confident they appear, has an image they wish to portray, even if it’s “I’m so confident, I don’t give a rip what other people think of me.” But in their lonely moments, there has to be insecurity there somewhere.

There are countless ways in which we cover up our weaknesses and secret sins. We hide and present a more acceptable self to the world.

There is such a thing as too much information. Or maybe it has more to do with the place and time and people.

Either way, I really, really believe that everyone needs a safe place where they can be completely themselves.Where they could confess anything, and still find total love and acceptance.

I wish I could be that for people. I wish I could get rid of all critical, judgmental tendencies, and make my home that safe place for people. I wish I could get past my desire to display a perfect front.

The other day when I stepped out my door, I specifically thought to myself, “I am SO GLAD no one can see my house right now!!”

And then an hour later, when I came back in through the door, my neighbor came with me.

I did it for me, and for her, too.

For me, because I needed to remind myself that a perfect front gets in the way of what I truly want in life. Although I would dearly love to own a pinterest-worthy home, I really want a home where people are welcome anytime. Where they feel comfortable and at home, and they go grab their own glass of water because they know exactly where the cups are.

And I did it for her, so she knows she never needs to worry about the state of her home when I come over. I did it to show her that I draw her close into my life, even if it means a little mess.

Mess is real. Whether it’s in my house or my emotions or my bad habits, everybody has it, but some people manage to never show it. I wonder what they feel like inside. I wonder if it gets tiring. I get tired when I try to make my life look perfect.

So come into my mess. Feel a little bit better about yours. And remember that everyone has the same deep longing to wander the world fully loved, accepted and free.

Pouring Everything At Jesus’ Feet

Well, I feel like we’ve had a few weeks of me baring all of my ugly insecurities and secret thoughts. That Beth Moore. She unearths all kinds of unexpected junk. Here’s a list of the topics we’ve covered in this little series on insecurity:

Introduction: Insecure Much?

Part 1: What’s Your “One Thing”?

Part 2: I Want to Be the Best

Part 3: When We Try to Play God

Today we’re going to look at a story from the Bible that has been one of my favorites for a few years.

It’s the story about the woman who pours perfume on Jesus’ feet. There is something that has always made me feel slightly uncomfortable about that story. I think it’s because it’s a story about a moment so intimate that you almost feel like you shouldn’t be part of it – kind of like when you catch a couple kissing when they think they’re alone.

Or like the time we turned our baby monitor on, and instead of picking up our base, it picked up our neighbor’s base, and we could hear him singing his little girl to sleep. (Different house, so you don’t have to try to figure out who it was!)

Some things are so beautiful and personal, you feel the need to look away, but at the same time, you don’t want to, because those moments are like a window into a person’s soul. You feel like you just want to catch a glimpse…

The story of Jesus being anointed with perfume is one of those glimpses. I’ve read that story so many times – I can still remember the illustration in my old Picture Bible: with her long, long hair, bending over Jesus feet, crying and wiping, completely broken before Him.

That picture in itself is a beautiful, vulnerable thing, but there is another whole dimension added to it – she was displaying that vulnerability in front of a room full of men.

Because of being a woman, she would already have been looked down on, but even more so because the Bible specifies that she “had lived a sinful life”.

I try to imagine what she must have been feeling that moved her to do what she did…

Have you ever been in a place where Jesus has gripped your heart? You’ve gone to the depths to clean out the junk from the past, you’ve been showered with His grace, and you feel so full of Him, so grateful and humbled and broken but whole? Nothing really matters but being one with Him. You want to get as close as possible, and desire a way to praise Him enough, thank Him enough for all that He’s done.

I imagine the woman feeling a bit like that.

So she got out the alabaster jar of perfume, took it to the home of a Pharisee, went into that room full of men, and worshiped Jesus in the most whole way that she could – all of her, poured out. Her perfume, her tears, her hair, her heart. All of it at Jesus’ feet, with everybody watching.

And it didn’t matter to her that everybody was watching, because all she cared about was Jesus. Her heart was so full, Jesus was all that mattered.

There are many, many times I’ve thought about that when I’ve been in a room full of people.

I want to live a life so full of Jesus, my heart so full of thankfulness and worship and love, that I don’t even see, don’t even care who is watching or what they think. I want to rise above every insecure thought I’ve ever had, and permanently live in a place where Jesus is everything, and always enough.

I want to be vulnerable, and I want to serve and love Jesus with my whole being, to the point where I pour out everything.

Because you know what Jesus said in defense of that woman? When Judas spoke up and voiced his negative opinion about her actions, Jesus said,

“Leave her alone….Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me….She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” (Mark 14:6-9)

Amazing, isn’t it? “Wherever the gospel is preached…” She just poured out her heart, and Jesus took it as the ultimate act of worship.

He called it beautiful.

It makes me wonder how He feels when we allow the lies of this world to creep in, and we start to feel ashamed, inadequate, ugly, unwanted, unworthy. We hide some parts of ourselves away, and curl into ourselves, because the most precious things we want to protect. We couldn’t bear if someone who saw it would mock or criticize.

But that guarded spirit can be contagious. Others can feel it when we are not transparent and vulnerable. So they start to hide certain things away, too. And before long, we end up in a world where a certain image is everything, and we must be so careful to portray only a carefully constructed front.

And the people who are comfortable with public displays of crying, perfume-dumping and hair-wiping are considered the weird ones.

But Jesus calls it beautiful.

Insecurity is a slippery thing. It can disguise itself in many ways, as we’ve talked about over the last two weeks. It can dampen our spirits, break our souls, and cause people to hide their true selves. It can hinder the way we worship and live out our relationship with Jesus.

What would happen if we would decide we don’t want that anymore? If we would embrace those vulnerable moments, and courageously worship in a transparent way?

I think Jesus might call  it beautiful….

How are you doing? Do you feel like you can show your true self? Are you free to pour yourself at Jesus’ feet, or do you hold back because of who is watching?

Insecure Much (Part 1): What’s Your “One Thing”?

So yesterday I let you all know about my newest little blog series about insecurity. I’ve been learning a ton from Beth Moore’s book, So Long, Insecurity, and I want to share with you some of the things that I’ve been working through as a result.

To start things off, I’ll give you a little tip on how to figure out what your biggest area of insecurity might be.

Beth Moore writes that if you want to figure out what your “soft spot” is, the area where you are most vulnerable, just try to figure out what is the one thing that you would change about yourself, if you could.

She calls this “a prominent false positive: one thing that we think would make us more secure in all things.

She writes,

Think of the person you believe to be secure and determine what earthly thing he or she has that you don’t feel like you possess, at least in matching measure….Needless to say, we would all like any number of things to give us the security we’re after, but we each have a tendency to prioritize one above the rest….Often we’re not even aware of it, but we demonstrate it by the inordinate power we assign to it. (p.37)

I read that, and thought, “I really don’t think that’s true in my life. I don’t think I have just one thing that sums up my insecurity.” But I wanted to be a good sport, so I spent some time thinking and praying about it.

What finally came to me was kind of surprising.

For me, it’s health. I often start to think that if I could overcome the health issues that I’m still trying to deal with once and for all, I would be perfectly happy.

I watch the other moms here at camp with their kids, and they seem to have boundless energy. They seem to do endless amounts of crafts with their kids, have never-ending amounts of patience, and run all over camp with their children. I used to watch out the window as my friend Terra-Lee went sailing past our house on her bike with all her children in tow.

And then I would look at my house that was a mess, because I was exhausted and had no energy to deal with it. My kitchen was pure chaos, because my health requires me to stay on a very restricted diet that’s a ton of work. And my hips give me so much trouble that I can’t even go for walks, never mind a bike ride.

I would feel very sorry for myself, and I would think, “If only I was completely healthy, then I would be the one biking, and having the time and energy for crafts and cleaning, and parenting with all the energy and patience that everybody else has. I would be able to have as many babies as I would choose to have instead of being restricted by my body, and my whole life would be wonderful….if only I was completely healthy.”

So positive, right? I didn’t feel that way all the time, just on the bad days.

But Beth Moore is right – I do have a soft spot, and my “one thing” is health. I was longing for the health that others seem to have, I was pouring a lot of time and money into trying to achieve it, and if you would ever want to crush me, all it would take is telling me that I looked like I was “wasting away” (yes, that was a direct quote), and looking tired, run-down, and unhealthy. Then I would go away and cry, and feel discouraged about absolutely everything in my life. I felt insecure about how I was doing as a mom and as a wife, and I felt insecure about how I looked and what other people thought of me.

I thought that everything would just be better if I was healthy and vibrant and full of energy.

But you know what? As long as I was thinking about all of that junk, as long as I was wishing for the life that someone else seemed to have, as long as I was feeling sorry for myself, I was never be able to see myself the way God sees me. If I’m thinking about what I don’t have or comparing myself to other people, I can’t focus on God. My thoughts are focused on myself and on the little pity party that can kick into high gear at a moment’s notice.

That’s my soft spot.

I found out what it was, but I also found out what to do with it. I need to surrender it over to God, and allow Him to heal it. I need to stop the pity party, and start filling my mind with thoughts that are glorifying to Him.

Sometimes identifying the soft spot already makes the hugest difference. I realized that I was unconsciously thinking a lot of harmful thoughts in a day. When I figured out what my “one thing” was, I was able to stop those thoughts, and replace them.

And it’s always possible to replace those thoughts: I am so much healthier than I used to be. And maybe I’m not biking all over the place with my girls, but we sure have fun snuggled up on the couch, reading books. Maybe my diet is a lot of work and really restricted, but at least I’ve found a way to function well and feel good.

My negative thoughts were feeding the insecurity I had about my health. I was constantly comparing myself to others, and only seeing all the ways in which I was not strong enough, not good enough, just….never enough.

But Ben often says, “It is what it is.” This is the life and the body that God has blessed me with. It’s not perfect, and that is okay. In His eyes, I will always be enough. Instead of continually focusing on that one thing, I need to keep looking to Him. He heals the hurt and the insecurities, and the years of not measuring up.

So what’s your spot? It might take some thinking to figure out, but I think it would be worth the effort. What is the one thing that you think would make everything better in your life, and then take it to God and ask Him to heal you and free you.

Anyone brave enough to share? I’m kinda curious about your “one thing”...

(If it’s way too scary to share something like that publicly, you can always send me an email! I’d love to hear from you.)

Been Thinking About Swine

There’s a verse in the Bible that talks about not putting your pearls before swine, because the pearls will get trampled.

I never thought about that verse much, until this last winter when I met a lady who talked to me about keeping secrets.

She talked about how there are some things in life that are so sacred and special, and dear to our hearts, that we need to learn to keep them close. If we recklessly share those precious things with everyone, there will be people who don’t understand, and will end up trampling our “pearls”. She felt that the swine verse was teaching us to be discerning in what we share with others.

And I think she’s right about the discernment part…but it kind of seems like that verse is referring to using discernment when we share the gospel, and the things of Christ with people who don’t believe in Him.

But still, it’s an interesting point – when you share your deepest thoughts and feelings with other people, how much do you share? How do you protect yourself from getting trampled by all the “swine” out there?!

Using discernment when deciding what is private, and what to share with the masses, is an interesting thought in this day and age, when absolutely everything is considered acceptable material to share on Facebook, Twitter, or blogs.

I am thinking about balance and discernment every time I sit down at my computer to post something on my blog – not because I view any of my readers as swine! I just want to be careful about what I write, and how much I share with the general public. And I realize that everyone has very different standards, and ideas of what is private or public.

I listened with interest to my family talking about this very thing the other day. My dad and brother-in-law are very thankful for the privacy they enjoy in their lives. My sister loves Facebook, but she’s not the type who wants to hear about every time someone bakes muffins. And as for myself, I’m not the hugest fan of Facebook that’s out there. (Gasp!) I use it in limited amounts, but I always feel like I’m eavesdropping when I read stuff on Facebook. I know that everyone is fine with me reading what they’ve written in a public place, but it kind of reminds me of those conversations where you say everything REALLY loudly so that the people beside you can hear what you’re saying – it can be kind of like indirect communication.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not trying to say that Facebook is bad. There are great things about it, and many different ways to use it. I just feel happier when I use it in small amounts, and I happen to enjoy having a blog a lot more.

But blogs can be really public, too. I’m not telling you every time I bake muffins, and I’m not posting all of my conversations with my friends, but I’m sharing a lot of details of my life and thoughts, and I’m posting a lot of pictures of my family.

Some people would not be okay with that. Some people would think that’s a lot more public than Facebook.

I think it all comes down to personal preference, balance, and an appropriate time for things.

There are times when things are just not meant to be shared. I’ve had moments between me and God that were like pearls, and trying to put those experiences into words would take away from the wonder, mystery and intimacy of those moments. Times like those are sometimes just meant to change you and cause you to grow, but don’t need to be shared with the world, even if the people around you would appreciate them for the pearls that they are.

But there are times when it is good and right to share stuff. God often works in the hidden places of our lives, and when we are willing to open up and become vulnerable to other people, it can be a blessing and an encouragement to others. If we are too closed and private, we can miss out on a deep and real connection with other people. We need to be able to trust others with some of the good stuff that’s buried a bit deeper.

I know that can be really hard for some people. Personally, not so much! I tend to be on the side of way too much information. And there are times when my pearls have gotten trampled. And then I’ve needed to forgive those who trampled, and learn some discernment for next time!

There’s a time for everything, right? A time to share about baking muffins, and a time to share about something a little deeper.

A time to speak, and a time to be quiet.

A time to enjoy personal moments privately, and a time to be a little more vulnerable to others.

A time to hold pearls close to treasure them, and a time to stop assuming that all people will trample them like swine….Or something like that!