While thinking about my grandma who passed this week, I tried to describe her in one sentence, “She was an open book.” If she had been through something in her lifetime, you knew about it because she told you, the entire church congregation, or even the random cashier at Food Lion. Whether you could relate or not, she made sure to tell you how good God had been to her through whatever storm she decided to tell you about that day or because she knew you were going through it too.
Why aren’t more people open books? Is it shame, regret, embarrassment, pride, competition? When did we become so private to where we couldn’t tell our story? Or as the church likes to call them, “testimonies.” The difference between people like my grandma who are open books and people who aren’t, is the desire of seeming picture perfect, like they have always had it all together. We fear that people will know the mistakes we’ve made, find out something about us they hadn’t previously known, or what if they tell someone?
I’m not saying you have to start confessing your deepest darkest secrets to the world, but I’m telling you to use your story. What’s the point of going through life’s aches and pains if they never have any purpose? If you never help someone who is going through exactly what you did? For example, look at the people in the Bible. Their lives were documented and spread all over the world, the good and bad, for our benefit. You feel like you can’t serve God and be a good person because of the things you’ve done? Well that’s why he gave us Paul (Acts 9:1-19). He went from persecuting God’s people to becoming one of God’s people himself. Paul’s story is being used and yours can too.
How will you use your story? Will you be an open book for the readers who need it? Remember, you can’t read a book that’s closed. You don’t have to post facebook status’ explaining your life, but I’m encouraging real personal connections, like my grandma did. She connected with people personally, who needed to hear what she had to say. Were you a single mother and now you’re watching a younger single mother struggle? Are you a successful business owner watching a newbie make the same mistakes you did, without sharing your knowledge? What part of your story needs to be shared? Use your story, be an open book, just like my grandma.
In memory of Ilene Chavis Dial.