POSTED ON AUGUST 11, 2010:
Everyone has a story, but what do you do with it?
Everybody has a story. Your story contains the events, plots, scenes and moments that make you who you are. If you truly want to get to know someone, just sit down and listen to their story. In a matter of minutes you will know a multitude of things about that person. A story contains our past, our defining moments and the context for which we now live our lives.
Our society is captivated by a good story. Every day, millions of people all over the world cram into movie theaters in order to be captivated by a great story. A story that confronts us with some great obstacle. A story that causes us to transcend our own situation and circumstances and get lost in someone else's battle to overcome.
Almost weekly, I get the chance of sitting down and hearing someone's story. You would think by this time nothing would shock me, but that just isn't true. I still can't believe some of the predicaments and situations that we all find ourselves in at times.
Not long ago I sat down with a clean cut, well articulate mid 20-year-old male who looked like he had it all together. His story included being sexually molested by numerous male family members while growing up and that forced him to leave home at an early age.
The next several years, he simply tried to survive while experimenting with everything from alcohol to prescription drugs to methamphetamines. I sat across the table mesmerized by the story this young man was painting before me.
Give me 1,000 guesses, and I would never have guessed his story. Needless to say, his story has and will forever shape him. Your story might not be that compelling, but I'm sure you've got one.
In my experience, I've found that your story either propels you into the life that God has called you to live, or it is continually grasping at your heels in an attempt to hold you back. It either becomes a launching pad and motivating factor to achieve something better, or it can easily become like a weight tied around your waist.
The young man who sat before me had every right to be angry, bitter and leery of everyone who attempted to gain his trust. Instead, this young man exuded confidence and approachability. I couldn't help but ask questions concerning how he overcame such incredible obstacles.
I'm not a counselor or psychiatrist and wouldn't begin to delve into the healing process of someone who has experienced something as devastating as child molestation. It's something most of us couldn't begin to wrap our minds around.
Here's what I do know: Everyday I see these people, the wounded healers, walking around our church, working on our staff and heading off to their jobs. They're wounded because the pain is real, the process has been difficult, and the memories won't ever go away. They're healers because they've chosen to use their story to bring healing to those going through similar situations.
There is something amazing, I would even say supernatural, that occurs when you choose to take your pain (the scars) and use it to bring healing to others. When you get past yourself and help others in the process of healing and recovery, it's actually you that receives the healing. You are healed when you provide healing.
I've watched as people have shared their story of how their child died at age 3, how they battled with an eating disorder until they were 35, how their spouse cheated on them with their best friend, or how they've been fighting a disease for the past 10 years. I've watched as these people have embraced the pain, they've pointed to their scars and they now use their story to bring hope to others.
Your story might not be that dramatic, but I bet it's filled with ups and downs, highs and lows, obstacles and pain. When I look through scripture, I'm encouraged to see that pain was usually a prerequisite for God to someone.
It was a result of the scars, the pain and the suffering that God was able to humble men and women to do the work of the kingdom of God. There's something about suffering that positions us to be used by God. Maybe it's that in our pain, we humble ourselves and rely more on Him. Maybe it's because pain refocuses us on what really matters in life.
James 1:2-4 says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
This is one of those paradoxes of the kingdom of God. It just doesn't make sense, and it's definitely not natural to rejoice when we face trials -- at least not for me. These trials, however, might just be the very thing that God is using to prepare us for what's ahead. It may be the very thing that is positioning us to be used by God.
We've all been wounded. Each and every one of us walk around with scars; some scars are bigger than others. Each and every one of us also has a choice to make. Do we walk around and use the scars as a crutch in life, or do we point to the scars and tell the story of healing? Do we use our scars to bring hope to people who are still hurting? In the end, we've all been wounded, the question is whether we use the scars to tell a story of hope.
Matt Nelson is the lead pastor at City Church.
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