My least favourite part of Christian gatherings has always been having to share my testimony. I remember sitting on the couches in the girl’s dorm at Bible school with the other first-year girls going on an urban immersion trip with me. We had circled up so that we could all see each other, and one by one, we began telling our testimonies. As each person shared, the room was filled with stories of hurt, loss, grief, healing, triumph, and redemption. I remember sitting curled up into the corner of a leather couch entirely in awe of the women that were sitting around me; they had endured so much, and the Lord had moved mightily in their lives. As the minutes ticked on and it grew closer and closer to my turn in the spotlight, fear and shame bubbled up from my heart and seared their way into my eyes. With growing horror, I realized that I didn’t have a story, at least not one that would move others to tears or stir hearts to repentance. My fears of being plain and ordinary culminated in that moment when with silver-lined eyes and tear-choked words I said, “Nothing extraordinary has ever happened to me.” I condensed and dismissed my life in a few short sentences, and then my turn was over, and we moved on to hearing the next breathtaking story. I sat there marvelling at how God has moved through these girl’s lives, and I wondered if my life would always be the one that was tucked into the acknowledgments at the end of a book, a single name half-forgotten amidst grander stories.
If you have ever felt the same way, that your story doesn’t matter, that you’re always going to be the supportive background character, or that God couldn’t possibly use someone as plain as you to change people’s hearts, then these words are for you. I pray that they’ll sink deep into your heart, slipping past the layers of lies and settling into the tender parts of your being. I pray that these words will remind you that the Lord chose you for this life and that He is using you every day to wrestle people’s hearts back into His loving arms.
The first thing you need to do is root out the lie that your story doesn’t matter. Your story matters because you matter. Let me say that again: your story matters because you matter. And one more time for the people in the back, YOUR STORY MATTERS BECAUSE YOU MATTER! God didn’t create you just to fill a quota or add some interesting side characters to other people’s lives. He lovingly wove you together. He measured out every tendon, bone, and vein in your body. He made sure that everything about you was precisely how He planned. He created you to live and breathe, to play and sing, to cry and love. He filled your life with heart-crushing sonnets and beautiful stories. Stories that you were never meant to keep bottled up inside.
I know that some days it can feel like life is something that happens around you, not to you. And we get so caught up in the transformational, mountain-top moments of other’s lives that we begin to compare ourselves to them. I’ve been there more times than I can count. I’ll read memoirs, hear speakers, or have conversations with friends, and by the end of it I’m left feeling like God passed me by when He was handing out life-changing experiences. Over the years, I’ve learned that life-changing moments come in all shapes and sizes, some are mountains and some are sunrises. God isn’t limited to using extraordinary circumstances to draw His children to Him. He uses everyday life as well.
I wrote off my story as ordinary as if being raised by loving parents in a wonderful Christian home could be anything but extraordinary. I kept comparing my story to those of the people around me, and the more that I compared, the more that I fell short in the shock factor and the “life-changing magic” categories. A part of me wants to rationalize it by saying that if everyone’s story was shocking, then no one’s story would be shocking; that we need ordinary people to measure up against. The truth is that every single life is extraordinary because God creates every life. He breathed us into being, and He set our feet on the path before us because He loves us, and He wants to use us to do His good works. The Lord uses both blessings and heartache, pain and triumph, mountains and valleys, to bring people closer to Him. Neither is better than the other. Rather they are both powerful tools in the hands of God.
People need to see that they don’t have to be extraordinary by the world’s standards to be a part of God’s kingdom. They don’t need to puff themselves up or complete a seven-step self-improvement plan to be welcomed into God’s family. God wants the glowing childhood memories just as much as He wants the near-death experiences, and He uses both for the glory of His kingdom. Don’t write off your “easy” life as useless. Just because you haven’t experienced the same things as those around you doesn’t mean that you don’t have a story or that God can’t use you to reach others. He used a little boy’s lunch to feed thousands, and He will use your life to reach people as well. No story is more important than another. Our lives are extraordinary because of the One who breathed them into being. Don’t write yourself off as being too plain to make an impact. Whether your story has more mountains or meadows, get out there and share it with people. They need to hear it (and it just might turn out to be your favourite thing to do…it did for me).