Purpose Uses Your Story

I believe that story has the power to change lives, and that’s why I’m willing to share mine.

As a sheltered Christian girl growing up in a small Wisconsin town of less than six hundred people, I never dreamed the path my life would take. When I planned my “wedding and life book” in my high school senior home-ec class, I pictured myself marrying a missionary or a pastor. We would have two biological children and adopt four from other countries. Our lives would be a happily-ever-after story.

Jump ahead ** years to July 19, 2002. Sonny and I danced at our wedding reception. Both divorced, we’d gotten engaged six months after we met. But we waited nineteen months to get married so his two daughters and my two daughters could spend more time together prior to the wedding. As important, my youngest was starting college that fall, and with all four girls off living their own lives, we’d avoided any upheaval during their high school years. The night we married, our friends and family celebrated—including our daughters. It was memorable, and we believed we were both going to get a happy ending to our story.

But on Friday, September 13, we were awakened at 2:00 a.m. by a chaplain from the sheriff’s department. Sonny’s beautiful nine-teen-year-old daughter, Angie, had been killed in a freak car accident in Oregon while visiting college friends. Our lives were thrown into turmoil.

That horrific incident was followed by two years of unemployment for Sonny. Boeing had laid off thousands of employees over the course of some months. He was one of the last. With that many people unemployed in the area, there was no work to be found.

A few months after he was called back to work, Sonny confessed to having a drinking problem. Finally, some things made sense …  Behaviors I’d attributed to grief and emotions connected to years of unemployment were actually due to the amount of alcohol he was secretly consuming every day while I was at work. He checked himself into a thirty-day rehab facility, came out determined to make some changes, and has been sober for ten years.

The first three years of our married life was filled with challenges. But we don’t feel sorry for ourselves—and we don’t want anyone else to either. We came through those painful experiences closer—stronger—and with a story of HOPE.

Hope that God will provide our needs—physical, emotional, and spiritual.

Hope that spring and new life will follow our winters.

Hope that God has a plan for our future.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”  (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

We’ve walked through divorce, a child’s death, unemployment, and alcoholism. We understand what it’s like to live in those situations, and that knowledge has given us opportunities to support and encourage people struggling with heartaches. Our story gives us purpose.

I think most of us are tempted to hide our stories because they’re humiliating or painful. I’ve certainly felt that at times. But Sonny and I have also found freedom in admitting that our lives haven’t been perfect.

My pastor encourages people to tell their stories, but he also emphasizes that it’s important to wait until you’re healed. Don’t preach while you’re still wounded. I agree. It can easily become too much about ourselves and looking for sympathy. That’s not helpful.

You don’t have to live through a tragedy to have a worthy story to tell. Don’t believe for a nano-second that your story isn’t interesting, exciting, funny, or sad enough to share. Trust me. You have something that someone needs to hear—just be open to the nudging in your heart.

Everyone has a story … and you’re writing yours every day.

Do you believe you have a story to tell? Do you think someone might benefit from hearing it?


No comments:

Post a Comment

 photo copyright.jpg
blogger template by envye