So often, throughout my life, I would hear another’s testimony and think to myself my story is nothing compared to that. What do I have to show? Mine is just…boring.
Though I know full well that it is not often this way, even for those who had the same upbringing as I, growing up in the church preambled an even-flow of years lived behaved. I wasn’t sheltered, nor in a bubble. I knew of the world, I was exposed to believers, non-believers and the differing views and choices of each. I grew up with friends who would place themselves on the opposite scales of one another. Even those who were closest to me made different choices at varying stages than I did. We each had our own mind. No one followed blindly another person. I simply did not live weeks or years experimenting with factors of life that most everyone else in life has.
Though I did try smoking (Mom, I told you that once, Dad, sorry…you probably never knew that. I promise I didn’t even like it! Which is why it didn’t stay a habit.), and I did try alcohol before I was 21, I never went deeper into the often dubbed “ways of the world”. It wouldn’t have been hard to, I’m sure of that. But for reasons I don’t really have definitions for, I just…didn’t do them.
Sometimes, I just become almost embarrassed that I don’t have more to say.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not sitting here saying that I have decided I’m making up for lost time and about to go on ‘a detour worth writing about!’
No, I promise, that’s not what I’m saying.
I made my choices. I continue to make them.
And it’s not that I’m not proud of choosing what in this culture (and in my and more current generations’ viewpoints) are hard stances, incredibly unpopular choices, and difficult ones to make under the blinding light of comparison lifestyles.
I won’t even pretend to give the reason for my decisions as fear or pressure to “be good all the time”.
No, I did what I decided I wanted to do, and I didn’t do what didn’t interest me.
I made bad choices.
I trusted the wrong people.
I pushed too hard.
Stayed too quiet.
Laid down too easy to be walked on.
Spoke a little too loudly for most people’s comfort.
Was a bit emotional and sensitive.
Pleased all the wrong audiences.
Thought the things one shouldn’t think.
Felt the ways no one should feel.
And I still make the same old mistakes and manage some big new ones along the way.
It’s just…when you hold up my life to so many others, it is a bit light. Blasé.
And the only reason that can get me down (as weird as that might be to hear) is because I think of how powerful those other testimonies are. How they reach so many people, give hope to so many, and point to God’s restorative and redemptive power. It’s astounding and glorious. His Word is overflowing with the history of people who came back from unimaginable circumstances, destructive situations. These people magnify His love in calling them for His goodness and purposes, magnify His power at rebuilding, at making all things new and beautiful. So many layers, rich in purpose.
My layers? What, can I claim even a handful? Maybe. But still, it seems so different.
Yet does my story make God any less Himself? Does my perceived lack of layers make Him less capable? Less wise? Less mighty? Less able to love fiercely? [I’m still alive to type this, so I know He is enormously merciful. Lightening didn’t strike!] — NO! Of course not. Nothing about me dictates anything about Him. It’s the other way around folks.
He is who He is. The “I AM”.
And I have nothing to do with that. He just has everything to do with me. Because He decided so. He chose me. And gave me the breathtaking freedom to choose Him right back.
And oh how hard that is sometimes. Don’t be fooled. Following Him, trusting Him: not easy.
Not every day anyway. Because just like Paul, there are wars raging inside
of me. Steadily.
Like the battle of feeling worthy to be on the front lines for His name.
Me, with my quiet life and sheepish voice.
Just admitting this, I know He’s coaxing out the truth – hoping I can see what He sees. (I think that is His ultimate goal every moment of every day, actually.)
I’m wanting to try. To get it.
I suppose I just continue each step. See where it will lead. Make choice after choice. Stand in that freedom won for me on the cross. Think, feel, live unapologetically. Learn every single day. Still falling every single day, but getting back up anyway. And resting in one of my favorite verses – that has been one of the most visual, illustrative verses for me for years:
“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, and He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, because the LORD is the One who holds his hand.” (Psalm 37:23-24, NASB)
I can always see that poor klutz, ambling along the rocky terrain.
The pronoun is not disqualifying. It’s all-ecompassing, symbolizing each of His own.
That ungraceful, maimed wanderer – she is me.
Though I fall – every time I will continue to flail and lose my never-contained balance,
He promises me that my head will not smash against the boulders. I will not be emptied out, left lifeless.
Because my hand is being firmly clasped by His.
My story doesn’t authorize me to be held or protected or loved.
My lack of color in this lifetime of choices does not prevent me from being used or cherished. The same One who made those who have deeper cisterns from whence they came – also made me. With each of my days accounted for. Each of my my hairs numbered. Every one of my flaws realized, and every one of my corners known. Every part of me – encompassed by His grace and sacrificing love.
I can’t pretend that I even fully allow myself to believe this. To feel its truth. But I still know it is truth. I will speak it again to myself, I will type it out and form its syllables until that ‘feel’ bursts out the doubts. I will rest in the words of The Father.
And I will try to learn to be brave with my story…