What’s your story? I know you have one; we all do. But a more important question is: Have you shared your story with anyone? So often we don’t. Even when someone asks, “How are you?” or “What’s going on with you?”, we answer with platitudes like, “I’m fine” or “Not much.” We do this even when it is not true, even when we are not fine or a multitude of stressful situations are plaguing us.
A Facebook friend posted as her status one day that everyone lies, and the biggest lie we tell is “I’m fine.” But why do we do that? Why don’t we share our story with others? I believe there are two reasons, both rooted in fear to some extent.
First, we think our story is ordinary. We are afraid that others will be bored by what we have to say about what’s going on in our lives. Sometimes this might be true, sometimes the person we are speaking with won’t really care enough to truly listen or will be bored. Dwight Yoakam sings a song called “Sorry You Asked” that exemplifies this concern:
You’ll be sorry you asked
me the reason
That she’s not here with
And I know you were
probably just acting polite
But you’ll be sorry you
ever asked why
We think people are just acting polite when they ask how we are, and don’t really want to know the truth. But often that is not the case, at least not if you are hanging out with people who care about you.
Second, we think we are the only ones going through whatever difficulty we are experiencing. We are afraid that others will look down on us for the situation we are in or the trial we are experiencing. We are afraid they will think we are weird or worse. But seldom are we the only ones who have experienced the trial we are currently experiencing or have gone through in the past. “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:9.
The truth is our shared stories are what bring us together in community. I believe God allows us to experience trials that He knows we can handle so that we can then be an encouragement to others in a similar situation. If you have had a miscarriage, chances are at least one of the other women in your circle of friends has had one, too, and could use some support and encouragement. If you have suffered from depression and recovered, odds are you will encounter someone else who is struggling with this problem who could benefit from your understanding. If you have lost a loved one, I would venture that many of the people you know have lost someone, too, and could find hope in the fact that you have survived this ordeal.
I could go on and on with examples, but the specific examples are not the point. It is the fact that we are all the same in so many ways. We are not alone and need not feel alone. In Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, Solomon wrote:
9 Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work:
10 If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
So go ahead, just like the character in Dwight’s song, share your story. Tell your friends how you really are, the genuine struggles you are facing, and the frustrations you are dealing with. Who knows, you just might help them feel less afraid and alone about their own trials, or you might encounter someone who is willing to share with you their story of hope and healing that you desperately need to hear.