On Christmas day I served a community dinner at my former church. I would love to tell you I did it to serve God and the lonely people of the community, but it actually was a way to not be alone on Christmas. It kept me busy. Don’t get me wrong I also do it because I know what it’s like to be alone on Christmas and there’s a huge need in this community not just at Christmas, but all year for those who are hurting and alone.
I don’t want anyone to get so desperate they do what I did five years ago and try to commit suicide on Christmas day, or any day. I want them to know someone cares, and that God cares too.
Doing the dinner is actually a mixed blessing for me. It allows me to serve others and not be alone on Christmas, but to do so I must face my past – and the people that are a part of it. Christmas immersed me into the church I attended my whole life. Including during the years I was being sexually abused and raped. Bringing with it unpleasant triggers to my trauma.
Christmas day I encountered people I grew up with who are now married with children helping out at the dinner, and then there are the people who were my Sunday school teachers, parents of my former friends, and leaders in the church. They all remind me of a time in my life that is beyond painful.
I am sure they are aware I no longer work and am on disability. I see their looks even though they don’t think I do. I know they wonder what it is I “do all day”. Some of them gossip about me. In fact, one person even told my one closest friend that I’m just a “trouble maker”.
If she only knew how much trauma I have to deal with. The complex PTSD and depression. That I am alone and depending on God to get me through this darkness.
But they don’t want to know what happened to me. People don’t want to know the truth which is all the more reason we need to tell our stories.
We are conditioned not to share. Not to speak out about our trials in life. But is that what God wants? Have you asked Him what He wants to do with your story? We all have one – and God wants to use it to reach others.
Look at the Samaritan woman in John chapter 4. The woman at the well. She had 5 husbands and was living with another man she wasn’t married to and yet after her encounter with Jesus she had to go tell her story. All of it. If she had not shared the difficult details, embarrassing details, of her story and what Jesus did for her so many would not have come to Him.
I am no saint. I am so far from it. I struggle to tell my story. I still keep pieces hidden. It was difficult to share what I did in this post, because it lays even more bare and I know some of the people who will read it. However, God has asked me to tell my story which is a big reason I have this blog. To tell it now. Not when it’s finished, but as He leads me on this journey of recovery.
He wants others to know how He is showing me His love, and growing my trust and understanding of Him in and whole new way. He is the One walking me through this step by step. He got me through Christmas – the days leading to it, that day and night – and the days since.
Through the past 10 years I have learned about a whole new God. A real God who wants me to know Him. Who actually loves me, though I still struggle to understand it. I don’t believe I would know God as I do now if I was not on this journey. He is using it for His glory.
Our stories do not have to be finished to share. God uses us in our brokenness. Look at the Bible. All of the men and women of the Bible were broken. No one except Jesus was perfect. His entire Word is filled with stories of how He shines through in other’s brokenness.
Think about it. Would you rather hear someone’s story about how God got them through difficult times and all was well now…or hear from them as God is getting them through right now on their difficult journey?
The question is will we let Him shine through our own journeys?
It doesn’t have to be a big platform on stage, on the internet, or in a book. It can be just one person, or a small group. Who is He asking you to share your story with so He can use your brokenness to bring others to Him?
God, Will you help me share what You are doing with my unfinished story?
© Susan M. Clabaugh. All Rights Reserved.