As survivors of any form of trauma we often find ourselves the center of attention with people asking us to share our “story.” This can occasionally stir up emotions or create anxiety as to what to share and/or how to share it. Boldness and boundary lines can be blurred. Here is a short list to help navigate the sometimes scary divulging of our sacred stories.
Only disclose what you feel comfortable sharing. Just because you’ve been asked to share your story doesn’t mean you need to share your entire story. There may be parts of you that you do not want to give away at that time. Knowing your audience can help you in this arena. For example, if you are publicly giving your testimony, maybe there are parts of your past life that are not appropriate for all to hear. An easy barometer may be, “Am I comfortable having my children, future children, or family members hearing this story ten years from now.” If you are in public, what you say now can very easily remain “public.” On the other hand, if you are sharing you story boldly at an intimate gathering of friends, you may share many more details you wouldn’t otherwise. Remember it’s YOUR story and no one else has the right to tell you how to share it.
There is never a need to apologize about where you came from. Your past is simply your past. It is a sum of experiences that may have changed the trajectory of your life and likely, were terribly traumatic, but at the end of the day, no excuse or apologies are necessary. God is the original recycler and he has taken the garbage you have been through and turns it into something incredible. Our past is a mile marker that we can look back to remember how incredibly far we’ve come. It is a reminder of God’s goodness and mercy. There is no shame in where you’ve been; there’s only beauty growing in the ashes.
Remember your past is not who you are now. As I said earlier, your past is simply your past. To share your story boldly, keep in mind that you are not your story. You are an overcomer who has chosen to share a part of yourself to encourage others in their journey. When we walk on that sacred ground we call “our story,” it is easy to identify with who we were. Our past can be a badge of honor that we wear like a medal. It can become something that we take pride in dimming the light of who we are now. It is only a shadow of who you truly are. You are a new creation, you are someone who has taken adversity and bravely chosen to reveal parts of yourself. This is who you are. The most powerful testimony is one that is so far removed from who you are today that people can’t believe that you’ve been through so much.
You are the author and owner of your story. You have every right to dictate what and how it is shared. Boldness doesn’t mean you share every gory detail, it means that you share only what you feel safe sharing. It is sacred ground that only the invited have the right to walk upon. Just as Jesus is the author of our faith, you are the authority of what you choose to share or not. Boldly share only within your comfort zone always remembering that it is your and yours alone.
– Chris Musillo