Life stories come in as many shapes and sizes as there are humans on the planet. We love authentic, unedited stories that celebrate the different, unique, and inspiring tales we hear from every walk of life. Why is it then that sometimes we look at our own stories and wish we could edit out the parts that aren’t so happy or positive?
For years I struggled with the feeling that my life story needed to be edited to make it more acceptable.
I longed to erase or revise the truths about me that didn’t line up with the picture-perfect fairy tales I loved as a girl.
I wished I wasn’t a child of divorce and that I might have known my biological father. That he would not have disappeared from my life or been a man who could do such a thing to two young daughters. I wished I hadn’t grown up with an angry parent who made me fearful of expressing negative feelings. Or been so insecure in college that I believed getting married would fix what felt broken inside of me. I wished I‘d given myself more time to become myself before I became a wife. And that my own marriage hadn’t ended in divorce.
But as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate these not so pretty parts of my story. Because what I might choose to whitewash are the very things that give me perspective and compassion, understanding, and strength. And the absolute knowledge that I’m stronger than I would ever have believed if I hadn’t faced challenges that felt too big to overcome.
If you’ve ever told yourself that no one would understand parts of your story, the things you did, or were done to you, the choices you made, or the situations beyond your control – you’re mistaken.
The unedited life story each of us is living is exactly what someone else needs to hear.
Letting down our guard and sharing authentically with one another is what breathes life into us all. Our stories, the unedited “for mature audiences only” version should not be sitting on a back shelf in our closet where we hope no one will ever find it.
I’m not saying we should share all the nitty-gritty details with anyone who will listen. Sending people running with shouts of, “TMI” is not the goal. What I’m saying is that every single thing about your story and mine will be used for good.
God doesn’t let any of it go to waste. Whatever details we’d like to edit out of our stories, He’s standing by ready to weave into a life-affirming, hope-giving message that keeps our eyes locked not on the things of the past, but a future filled with redemption.
Together our stories make us stronger, more compassionate, and empathetic.
Our unedited life stories tell of lessons learned, perspectives gained, warnings signaled, and lives changed. We can’t rewrite them by pretending the difficult parts didn’t happen. Or paint them in prettier colors than black and white. The truth is we walked right through them to get where we are. Our stories are powerful. And when we choose to embrace them – in all of their unedited messiness – we embrace and encourage each other.
God’s love for us shines through the stories that make us who we are. And who we are is pretty amazing according to His Word. Fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of a Father who is using our stories to bring us all home.
“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”
(2 Cor. 1:4)