I used to hate sharing things with others, or opening up about my life. It’s best when nobody knows details about you- no drama, no nosy people trying to pry. I didn’t like to share experiences of mine, like, who wants to hear about what happened to me? That’s kind of selfish, and I don’t want to be known for that. Besides, my life isn’t that interesting. However, something shifted in me when I decided to genuinely follow Jesus. I wanted to share every detail of my testimony. I was ready to share it at any given moment. I think I’ve shared it at least 15 times.
I have shared my story with my youth group family, and a few people who I barely knew. When I started college, I realized that being authentic is really important, not just when talking about Jesus, but throughout my whole life. I am more inclined to be honest when someone asks how I’m feeling, because there’s literally no point in faking. If I keep to myself, I am limiting the community that could potentially happen between me and that other person.
Sometimes I find myself sharing my experiences and thoughts with someone, and they’re like “You know, I’ve been going through something similar!” In that moment, I feel connected with that person, and I feel happy that we get what the other is going through.
“If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.” -Brene Brown
Being a youth leader helps me a lot. I’m a role model to the kids I mentor. When they ask me how I’m doing, I don’t simply say “I’m fine”. I tell them how I’m feeling. If I’m struggling, I ask them to pray. Opening up to them about my experiences encourages them to do the same in their friendships. Hopefully they will carry it with them through their lives. I want them to know that they can impact the world around them by sharing their stories. At least one person is bound to relate. Because of that relation, they might be able to extend grace and love to (and beyond) that person.
You have something to offer others, which is the results of your experiences thus far in life. No story is too mundane, too insignificant. We can use any situation to create community.