It’s your story, your life, your pain, but it could also be someone else’s strength, someone’s gift.
Blue, pink, red and yellow. I wonder what colour I will get next year? These are paper bags I have collected over the years of going to the Beauty for Ashes women’s conference.
My husband has had many ideas:
- The first was we could use them as gift-wraps for other people.
- The second was I could throw them away—what’s their use anyway? Practical man he is.
- The third he mumbled something.
There is a part of me that wants to hoard them, a part that’s want to hang onto them because each bag beautifully reminds me of each of the women (and a man) who stood and shared their stories.
One reminds me of Mary DeMuth, another of Jennifer Rothschild. There is one for Lisa and one for Sheridan and Linda. Then there is Michelle Cushatt’s one.
Oh, God bless them all!
Each bag is a keepsake—a beautiful reminder of the powerful stories shared at the conference.
One day I am going to have to let go of the bags as they fade, but what I won’t let go of are the stories they represent.
I won’t forget the tears I shed.
I won’t forget Rosemary, my friend who first invited me.
I won’t forget the beautiful stories. Those stories were gifts. Gifts from God wrapped in the brokenness of others.
Those stories came to me and many women for crucial reasons.
To remind us we are not alone. And this life . . . is bigger than ourselves.
We need to walk with others. We will crush and burn on our own. So to hear others say ‘me too’ and know that we are not alone in our pain is joy.
We identify, we connect and find friends. For a moment we feel safe with those who know our journeys.
We see ourselves in the lives of strangers we have never encountered before.
We relate, and within their stories we meet ourselves.
The stories come to help us find God in our pain.
Are you there, God? Do you even see me? When we go through pain that is all we wonder.
Through others’ stories we are reminded that God has been there all along.
We find purpose because in the end we are all looking for purpose. We want to know that it means something even when our prayers are never answered—that it means something even when this world breaks us.
Those stories came to us so we could hear the voice of God through human voices.
God speaks to us. We hear him in voices that are familiar and audible to us.
We hear him through people whose hands we can shake.
When we navigate through the dark paths of life, these stories come to shine a light of hope.
- Hope that we will overcome just as others have overcome.
- Hope that we too will make peace with the unexpected.
Your turn . . .
I know that maybe like me, you have come across storytellers who helped you make sense of God’s ways.
And here is what’s beautiful—this isn’t where it should end.
Could it be that your story is a hidden treasure that can do the same for others?
Because just maybe someone is clothed in sorrow, wondering how they will get out of it, and it is your story that will heal them.
- I pray that as you hear these stories, they ignite something in you so you get to share your own stories.
- I pray you don’t hold back your stories.
- I pray you may know that the good news we are commissioned to preach to the world can be wrapped in the stories of your lives—wrapped in both the broken and the whole pieces.
- I pray that you may know that your stories are a remarkable way of sharing the God who resides in your heart.
Yes, it is your story, it is your life, it is your pain, but maybe it is also where someone else can find strength—it can be your gift to someone else.
But only if you share.