I recently attended a Women’s retreat with my church, New Day. It was held at McCullough Camp in Kent. Luckily, the ladies sent out directions with the disclaimer, “It’ll look like you’re turning into a residential area, but don’t worry, you’re going the right way” or something like that because I would have turned around if I hadn’t known to just keep going.
When I arrived at the camp, I checked in, got my super-cute name tag and saw the amazing decorations. Among them was a framed picture that said, “Your story is important… tell it.”
Well, this totally freaked me out. I was going to be expected to share my story during the weekend. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have no problem sharing most details about my life including my inability to shop at a store other than American Eagle or my awkward encounters with people (where I am the awkward one, not them), but I knew that wasn’t the story to which they were referring.
A few women shared the first night. As I listened to them bear their hearts: their love for God, their past hurts, their current struggles, I felt so grateful to be at this event, to be entrusted with these stories. Something different struck me about each one, resonated within me, and gave me a profound sense that I am not alone. And each story overwhelmed me with a love and gratitude of God.
But still, I wrestled with whether or not to share my story. A big difference between my husband and I is our openness with people. John wears his heart on his sleeve. He is who he is and he’ll tell you all about it. He has had to learn to be more guarded.
I, on the other hand, can be quite guarded. I worry about burdening people with my problems. I worry about people judging me based on their own biases.
I also worry about sharing because once I open my mouth, I can’t shut up. I’ll dominate conversations with my own issues and I worry about wearing other people out.
So, I did not share the first night in our small group. We really ran out of time for everyone to share, so I just didn’t. I loved listening to others speak and pushed aside that voice inside me that said, “Be brave.”
Breakfast on Saturday was amazing, and we had a great opening session talking about Romans 12. I particularly loved the worship (and by worship, I mean worship through singing) time. The ladies who led worship did an outstanding job and I loved singing along with them.
Then, we had another small group time. We were supposed to talk about times when we’ve seen other women in the group live in community like the Bible tells us to (encourage one another, love one another, etc). However, a lot of our group didn’t know one another, so several women took the opportunity to share their story (or part of it).
So, haltingly, then quicker and quicker (like I said, open mouth = can’t shut up), I shared my story including things I feel vulnerable about. And it was great. I truly felt accepted and loved by the women listening to me. It brought me to tears.
I am still processing everything that God showed me over that weekend, but my one big take-away is this: I will not let my own insecurity keep me from building relationships with people. I have a debilitating fear that people don’t or won’t like me. And I will not let this lie that I am unlikeable or unloveable stop me from reaching out to people and making friends.
I’m sure that I will fail in this still and let my insecurity dictate my actions, but I am going to fight that through the grace of God and His power and might.
So, let me tell you: Your story is important. Tell it.
How did John and I find this church? Well, John was looking at websites of churches in the Federal Way/ Tacoma area and stumbled onto their website. We identified with their Value Page:
We have identified seven core values that define the way we do church at New Day. It’s not an exhaustive list, but it’s a clarifying one. We try to measure everything that we do in light of the following values:
Worship is central.
The heartbeat of the church is found in giving praise, honor and our full attention to God.
Truth must be well-told.
The gospel is powerful and authoritative without our enhancements. Our task is to communicate it clearly, creatively and carefully.
Every Christian is a minister.
All believers are called to full-time minstry – whatever their life’s work. It isn’t just the job of a pastor.
The church is a mission outpost.
The real work of the church is out in the world — not in programs and committees. We come together to get what we need to go back out there.
Authenticity rules the day.
Transparency is key in a hypocrisy-sensitive culture.
The church must lead the way in reconciliation.
According to Jesus, loving one another is the most convincing way to show he’s real.
The Who question outranks the How question.
We want to be more concerned with knowing the Christ of the Bible than anything else.
After looking at this, we visited and then we were hooked :)