In the little over 144 months of marriage that Chris and I have had so far, I have stories to tell.
SO many stories.
A few stories I’ve shared in front of large groups of women, on stage at our church’s women’s events.
Other stories I have shared in person, with our small group, with another couple or one-on-one with friends.
There are other stories I haven’t yet shared at all, for fear of judgment or the pain that might be involved with the accurate telling of the story. Someday, maybe I’ll share them. But not yet.
As I think back on it, I realize that telling my stories, putting words to my experiences, understanding them and sharing them with other people, is what gives my life meaning.
It’s hard to describe the joy that I have when someone tells me some version of the following: “I connected deeply with what you wrote.” or “You put my experience into words so perfectly.” or “Your post resonated with something in my heart.”
It’s like God is saying See? Look at what I’m doing. I can use it all – even your mistakes. Your stories have value YOU have value. Good job. Keep going.
I feel the same about reading other people’s stories. It’s why I’m drawn toward storytellers. I’m drawn to people like Jen Hatmaker, Glennon Doyle, Anne Lammot, Don Miller. Other people who tell their stories as a way to connect with people. It’s why I love books like The Wet Engine, When Breath Becomes Air, The Hardest Peace, Here Now, Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved and dozens more.
Back in June, Chris and I learned about Dan Allender. From the first moment I heard his approach to therapy, I was on board. He bridges the stories in our own lives to the story of the gospel to give them meaning and bring about healing and transformation. He has pioneered a unique Christ-centered story-based approach to counseling. It’s one I deeply resonated with because of the lifelong tug on my heart to share my stories.
So I jumped in. I’m learning about how to share my stories well. I’m learning how putting words to my stories, without editing out the hard parts, is not only incredibly healing for me, but helpful for those who hear them too.
It makes sense, when you think about it.
Jesus connected with people through stories. He connected with people where they were, in ways they could understand, not just intellectually, but on a wholly practical level.
At the end of October, Chris and I are attending a conference called The Story of Your Marriage. In a seemingly-random-but-in-reality-totally-God-directed series of events, earlier this year we shared a week with two of the couples putting on this conference. We met them at a time when God was trying to get our attention and call Chris and I to a path of holy inner work, healing and redemption of a lot of incredibly broken parts of our relationship.
Since we met them, we’ve begun this journey of redeeming our marriage. It’s been lots of hard work, so far. But so, so beautiful.
And although I haven’t yet experienced this conference, I already know it will be amazing. Based purely on the people who are leading it, and the approach to wholeness and healing.
If you are married, I encourage you to attend. If you don’t live in the area and want to come, we have a guest room. Come stay with us.
Come dive into your stories and let the redemption begin.