I’ve been discussing sharing our stories the past few weeks, which you can begin reading about here.
When it comes to sharing our stories with others it’s often hard to speak of the places that still sting a bit. We all have ugly spots in our pasts. Places where we would just as soon say we’ve never been.
I for one, have spent many years hiding from my “scary places.” I have known for a long time that God put a calling on my heart to write, but I chose to ignore it for years.
I didn’t want to go back, even if it meant being an encouragement to others.
Selfish? Yes. But the real obstacle was and always will be fear. I feared the struggle more than trusting the purpose God had through it.
Even today the tender parts are the hardest ones to talk about.
We all have them.
The ugly memories, the events that changed who we are as a person, the bad choices, and terrible scenarios.
There is inevitably something in each one of our pasts that is a reminder of just how broken we used to be and to some extent, still are.
We certainly don’t want to stay stuck in the muck of yesterday, and yet, it is a part of us that cannot be ignored and has even helped shape us.
Here in lies the question I have asked myself for years; what do we do with these parts—the scary parts?
I suffered from postpartum depression and antepartum depression with all three of my pregnancies. The littlest years of my children’s lives were extremely difficult for me. I suffered in silence for most of this time, assuming I was alone.
In the midst of my story, these are some of the scariest days and the memory of them have the ability to leave me paralyzed.
I have a mind that stores memories in boxes that can pop open without warning. And since my particular struggle was intertwined within my every day, I find I am often reminded of those days.
A sniff of a particular laundry detergent, the mist of a January morning or even the length of the shadows stretch in July can bring with them a rush of unwanted emotions.
To this day when I visit a new mom, I struggle because the past beckons to me. I am tempted to open the door to “if only” and allow him to come in and stay awhile.
The scariest part of your story was always meant for good.
Even though those days were dreadful and the memories are hard places that still chafe, I know how they can be used for good.
I have learned over time how to use these triggers as a reminder to check in on the emotional state of new moms and friends.
I’ve learned how I can use the bad for good…
I can say, “hey, I’ve been there too, how can I help?” and “I know how this feels, here’s what I did.”
It’s a matter of taking the bad and flipping it on its head for good.
Empathy grows in the hardest of spots
God allows certain hard, uncomfortable and just plain terrible things into our lives. He’s not the cause of these things, but He certainly can use them for a good purpose. Sometimes I don’t love the thought of this, I’d rather He keep it all rainbows and sunshine. But if I’m being honest, the hard, scary places are the places where I have learned the most.
These “scary” places are the ones that have brought me closer to my God and my fellow humans.
I don’t believe I ever would have felt the empathy I do for others if not for the scary places I have walked.
The scariest and most beautiful story ever told
I often think about the fact that the scariest part of Jesus’ life was also the entire purpose of it. This moment in time was simultaneously the ugliest and most beautiful situation to ever be.
A death on a cross is a hideous event, and yet, it is the only thing that could redeem every human that has ever lived.
Jesus certainly never shied away from any of our scary places, rather He entered into them. He came to be present with us and to enter into the pain, the muck and the mire of this human mess.
He touched the ugliest places, made them whole again and then asked people to share what wonderful things He had done.
One of my greatest fears has always been that everything I’ve been through was going to be wasted and meaningless. But gazing deeply into Jesus’ story causes me to believe that every scary part of our story is meant for a beautiful purpose as well.
From every scary place we’ve walked, there is truth to learn.
In sharing the scariest version of our stories we are guiding those behind us with a little light in a dark place; “We made it through, you are not alone and there is hope in the dark.”
Hiding the parts of our story that are unpleasant, uncomfortable, or just downright ugly, never does any good for ourselves or anyone else. Not that we need to shout from the rooftops every hardship we’ve ever had, but where necessary, there is real value.
Making scary beautiful
Trusting a God that is simultaneously in today and down the long road of tomorrow helps us speak the scary parts a little easier because we can know there is a purpose in them.
He has made everything beautiful in its time… Ecclesiastes 3:11
Kit Tosello says
Beautiful, moving post. Your obedience to wield a pen and redeem your pain, through Jesus’ power and for his sake is inspiring. Glad I found you via Tell His Story today!
Susan McIlmoil says
Thank you, Kit!
Thanks for the marvelous posting! I quite enjoyed reading it, you might
be a great author.I will ensure that I bookmark your blog and may come back from now on. I want to encourage you to continue your great work,
have a nice evening!
You did a great job with this. God has called me to write for years and I ignored Him until a few months ago. I still haven’t even touched the scary topics (alcoholism, promiscuity, anxiety, depression, and more), even though those are the ones I know he wants me to write the most. They are the topics that really glorify Him. They show his love and redemption. They make others feel less alone. I’ll get there. Thank you for your bravery and encouragement. Visiting from TrekkingThru Link Up
Susan McIlmoil says
Oh, Julie, I love that you’re stepping out in faith and following after what God wants you to do. I’ll be here cheering you on! Love your website! 🙂
Beautifully written! Thank you for your encouragement and wisdom. When we share our “scary” it makes us all braver.
Susan McIlmoil says
Thank you, Laurie, yes, I believe it does. It’s amazing how much hope we give one another when we know we’re not alone.
Lauren Sparks says
This post is beautiful and wise. Visiting you today from the purposeful faith link up. laurensparks.net
Susan McIlmoil says
Thank you so much, Lauren!