I think one of the most powerful things in church, or even in life, is when we learn someone else's story. The commonly used term in church is "testimony". Often in church we hear them in front of an audience. Sometimes we learn them within the walls of someone's home. Other times we gradually learn them as we do life on life with people. What I'm more interested in, though, is the stories that aren't told.
I think that most of the time our stories aren't told for two reasons. The first reason is that our we are scared to share, in fear that we will be judged or that our stories are too much to burden someone with. Some of these stories might deal with shameful addictions, past/current abuse, and other things of this nature. What I would like to say to these people, is to take a chance and open up to someone who you feel can be trusted. And what I want to encourage the listeners to do is to delight in those people's burdens. By that I mean encouraging them to open up, being a safe person for them to share with, and then helping carry those burdens with them. Okay, so that sounds depressing right? Well my point is that it doesn't have to be. We can delight in their burdens by saying, "Okay so we have to deal with these problems head on. But we can also do life together and have fun in doing that." Sharing these kinds of stories is about the transformation that comes after the trial, and if someone tells you their story you are now part of the "after". Make this a joyous thing!
The second reason we don't share our stories is that we don't feel like our story is worth sharing. When we hear powerful stories of transformation, it is easy to fall into the trap of comparing our own story. It's even easy to feel the need to over exaggerate your story to "live up" to others'. Sometimes telling your story might feel like you can't even distinguish when you really started living for Christ. Now, this might be because you haven't actually started living for Christ. If this is the case I want to challenge you to seek out a mentor whose faith you look up to. Maybe another reason that you can't distinguish the point at which you started living for God is because you were raised in a church where your faith was able to blossom and your church family encouraged the growth in your faith. I wish more of these stories were told. It is such a beautiful thing to see the huge work that God has done in a life through transformation, and it is also a beautiful thing to see how God uses healthy environments as well.
Satan uses these insecurities to separate us. He tells us to find shame in the fact that our stories are either too much or too little. So some people reading this could be in either category. But I think what we should do, what the Bible tells us to do, is to share regardless. The thing about sharing stories is that no matter what kind of story you have, you will always bring out something in whoever is listening. You might have a similar story, or you might have something completely opposite. But the point is that God wants you to take pride in your story, because the whole time He was right there making it with you.