On Wednesday mornings I go to a bible study at my church. I really love sitting with other women attempting to absorb wisdom and maturity. I fully subscribe to the theory of osmosis. So much so, that I may or may not have, at one time, put my bible under my pillow as I slept in an attempt to memorize scripture by osmosification.
At bible study, when I find a woman particularly oozing wisdom it is likely that I will ootch my chair a bit closer to hers.
And yesterday, when I realized I was sitting in the presence of some of the bravest, most incredible women, I couldn't decide who to skinny up closer to. They all had me in awe.
These women chose to sit around a table and share their deepest pains and hardest moments.
The stories that were shared were not pretty. They were not socially acceptable or easily digested. These were stories of pain and heartache, crimes committed and morality thrown away. We looked each other in the eye and shared the places our lives had been shattered.
What happened was unexpected. I expected something from the women who were speaking, but the beautiful surprise actually came from the women listening. Instead of embarrassment and judgement, I saw belonging and freedom. In spite of fear, there was courage. The secrets that had us isolated, when put into the light, unified us. We realized we weren't alone. We realized we'd all been rescued and we belonged together.
Isolation and shame is one of the ways Satan attempts to keep us broken and afraid. When we share our stories and show that God healed us, and used the broken place to make us stronger, we walk in unity and truth.
One woman shared that she'd been too afraid to walk through the church doors because she'd believed the women in the church building would never accept her. She said she'd believed the voice that told her, "You are damaged goods and will never fit in. The women who attend church lead tidy lives and won't understand or accept messy. Those women are perfect and you are not and they will never accept you."
But these women's stories- shared in strength and love and incredible bravery- showed the truth. The truth that we are far from perfect. We are muddy, messy, and in need of a Savior.
Our stories are the way the front doors of the church are pushed open and people are welcomed in. The stories are how people find out they are not alone. They find out that the church building is full of people who had been pulled out of the muck.
When we share the stories of how we were found, the flesh and blood stories, often painful and wrought with tears, we show how Christ is the only thing we can claim as our salvation. And we share that HE is the reason we are rescued. HE is the reason we get eternal life in heaven with Him. Nothing we've done, nothing we've earned.
Our stories reveal God's nature. They reveal God's glory, how He saves and redeems us.
Our lives are a story about who God is and what He does in a human heart. He will put us in the right place, at the right time, to share our stories and be used for His Kingdom. The greatest feeling on planet Earth is when we are used by Him to bring a soul to eternal salvation and eternity with Him.
You are a treasure, created by Him for a purpose and a reason. You have a story and you are called to be courageous. Share your stories. Be brave. Let's all be brave together. Let's fling the doors to the church open.
And if you haven't walked through those church doors yet, come to the table. YOU are invited.