Last week, at church, while mingling and chatting with people, I struck up a brief conversation with a gentleman who I knew – not well, but enough to remember he and his wife’s names and a bit about them. As often happens, we exchanged the usual, “Hey, how’s it going?” routine. Admittedly, previous to this, many times, my answers often were ‘canned’ – “Great thank you, you?” Similarly, the responses were the same. However, today, would be different.  I replied, “Well, okay, but I did get laid off from my job a week ago.” I think for many of us, especially guys, this is particularly hard to do – feelings of shame and guilt; questions of worthiness and value can quickly rear they heads and keep us wearing the mask of “I’m fine – just fine, thanks.” I am glad that I stepped out and was a bit vulnerable, sharing my situation.  He accepted it, encouraged me and then shared his own personal story of challenge and difficult choices.  He offered to pray for me (and I prayed for him as well). We both left with our spirits strengthened and with the feeling that ‘I am accepted, even if I am struggling.”

Many of us have them – those stories, events, situations in our lives that we wish would have never happened. Those circumstances that often haunt us in our minds and keep us shackled in fear and rejection. Will I be accepted? Will I still be loved? We are pushed into feeling ashamed of our past. In the company of others, we stay in the comfort of our ‘shell’, careful not to share too much about ourselves, afraid that someone might discover us behind the masks – our struggles, our imperfections.

May I just be bold here and just say that these feelings and thoughts are lies!  They are a deep, hurtful trick of the enemy of our souls to keep us chained and imprisoned to our past.   Have you ever heard anything like, “You have got to be the worst person for giving into that temptation… for the 10th time!” or “No one is going to accept you because of that ‘thing’ in your past” or “You just ruined the rest of your life because of your choices”… the list could go on! If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above… you are being lie too and like most, have probably given into and accepted the lies.

Have you ever wondered why these voices in our heads seem so bent and determined to remind us of our past and keep us ‘hidden’ from those around us?  The answer – there is immense power to free, heal and restore in our stories.  Those negative ‘voices’ don’t want that power unleashed and set free. They want to keep us in bondage.  But, may I offer another perspective.

Revelation 12:11 – And they have defeated him (the devil, the negative voices in our head) by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony (story).

James 5:16 – Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed.

2 Corinthians 1:4 – 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.

The above verses call out for us to be open with our lives, our stories… our testimonies. Allowing ourselves to be open with others; vulnerable with our lives, our struggles and challenges bring with it great reward:

  1. It breaks the chains of bondage in our own lives; defeating those voices that want to keep us living in fear.
  2. Sharing our story and how Jesus has helped us through our difficult times encourages others in the midst of their own struggles.
  3. It lets others know that it’s okay to be open with themselves and share their own stories; opening the door for healing and acceptance.

Could their be times, when sharing our life with others might bring a not so favorable response? Sure, but that is usually our first clue that those people are not encouragers.  But, those who help us to smile even during our most challenging times and accept us anyway – those are true friends. May we open ourselves to others and allow the power of our stories to bring healing, freedom, restoration and the discovery of true friendships!  Be free…


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