“All I know is I was one way before, and now I’m completely different.
And the thing that happened in between was Him.”
I sat on our balcony earlier this summer with a couple of the girls to listen to the testimonies they were planning to share the next morning at their baptisms. The bamboo swing we were all sitting in gave off the only sound between us for a while, creaking back and forth as we swung together and slowly watched the sun go down on the houses in front of ours.
Eventually one of the girls started reading the words she had worked hard to get out on paper that week. But in the middle she stopped abruptly and looked up from her paper- “Ate Leah” she said (‘Ate’ means older sister), “are you sure I should read this out loud tomorrow?”.
“Only if YOU want to”, I responded to her as gently as I could so she’d know there was zero pressure. “Do you still want to read it?”
She had been one of the girls most excited about her baptism for a while so her sudden hesitation in this moment actually surprised me.
“I really want to share my testimony,” she said as she leaned her head over towards my side of the swing. I finally got to look directly into her brown eyes full of sincerity and passion. “I want to… but when I get to this part that talks about my life before I knew God.. I’m scared. All these things I’ve done. Who I was for so long. What if I embarrass God tomorrow by saying it all out loud?”
As soon as she said that I wanted to pull her in close and just hug her tight. Because I’ve known similar shame that makes people ask those kinds of questions. I’ve wrestled before with my own version of a narrative that I’m not good enough or I’m disappointing to God…
“You are NOT embarrassing God by telling your story” I said to her that night while pushing back my own tears. “By being true and real about who you are today and even where you’ve come from, you are honoring Him in the most beautiful way. It’s actually at that very part in the story- the messy paragraphs that you are most scared and embarrassed to read out loud- it’s right there that God stepped in and called you to Him. Maybe it still isn’t easy to read out loud, but gosh, God is not one bit embarrassed by you. He is so incredibly proud that you’re His kid.”
The stories of our lives weren’t ever meant to point at us. We fail, we steal glory, we live for ourselves and chase half-hearted pleasures like a bunch of fools sometimes. But God. He loves us so much and He never once- even in all our mess- ever hesitated or changed his mind about going to the cross for you and me. It’s because of His outrageous, radical grace we are saved.
I know the familiar whisper that tries to say you’re better off staying quiet about the tough parts. But just like everything else we’ve been given the years of our lives are all a gift from God. It’s His story to write but our responsibility to share.
And ultimately every page matters.. because it all points back to Him.