The Importance of Telling Your Story

This past weekend, I was given the opportunity to lead a DNOW weekend with some of my fellow RUFers. For those of you who don't know, DNOW stands for Disciple Now and is weekend for high school and middle school to really spend time in the word. One of John's good friends is a youth pastor in Florance, SC and has asked us to do it the past two years. 

Honestly, I didn't want to go. I tried to think of every excuse in the book to get out of it. This semester has been so incredibly busy and I have had hardly any weekends to just chill out. I had so much I needed to get done for this week, but I had no excuse. I packed my bags and met my friends at school.
The first thing I said when I got in the car was, 

"Can I be real for a minute? I don't want to go. At all."

Surprisely, the three girls I was riding with agreed. I breathed a sigh of relief, not feeling as bad. The drive there was horrendous. It poured rain almost the whole time and took us almost 4 hours. I got there feeling so drained and not at all prepared to lead these students.

The theme for the weekend was A Gospel Centered Life. Three of my peers, who are ministry majors, got to speak at each of the sessions. That was so wonderful to sit through and hear the Word of God speak through them. They each did a wonderful job. When it came time to split into groups, we realized that there were just as many students as there were leaders. My group had 3  middle schoolers and 4 leaders. I went to group thinking 

"I definitely could have skipped this. Why am I even here?"

Our small group time was good. The girls in our group had grown up around the Word so they knew a lot of the "Sunday School Answers," we encouraged them to think deeper, but there's only so much you can push on a middle school student. 
I skipped out on the late night games Friday night and went to bed. I knew that if I didn't, I would be even grumpy in the morning.
As you can see, I was obviously being super selfish. I didn't even want to give God the opportunity to speak through in even a small way. 

Saturday went well. Breakfast. Session. Small Group. Lunch. Free Time. It was good getting to know the kids by playing frisbee and goofing off. We had dinner and then one last session and small group. There wasn't anything that particular stood out. As the kids left Saturday night, I just felt discouraged and ready to get back to Anderson. No great conversation about the Lord or conviction about how I living. There was no feeling. There was nothing that I thought I would remember this weekend by. 

It felt like a completely waste.
And I really hate saying that because we did have good group discussions and the Lord did work in ways that I know that I just can't see.

After the kids left, everyone went to Chickfila to get food. Well, everyone except me and one other girl. We stayed behind and caught up on life. It was so sweet. Everyone came back and were playing games and goofing off as Lauren and I continued to talk. Somehow, Ben got caught into our discussion and randomly turned to me and said,

"Tell me your testimony."

"Uhh....really? Are you sure? It's really long."

"I want to hear it. I want to hear how Christ has worked in your life."

So I started. At the very beginning. I actually love giving my testimony. I love reminding myself of the work that Christ has done in my life and how much He has redeemed. I told these two friends everything. As I spoke, people would come in and out of the room, interrupting, not realizing what we were talking about. But slowly, a couple more people came, sat and listened to the very end of my testimony.

I asked Ben to share his testimony. As he did, even more people came in. As the night went on, I got to hear 5 of my brothers' and sisters' testimonies. I got to see how Christ has worked in them, the struggles they have faced, the joys they've experienced and the trials that God has put them in. 

It was 2 o'clock by the time people started to get tired. I could've gone on all night, but we did have to get up for church the next morning. 

As I went to bed and as I have reflected on that night the past couple days, I have been so encouraged.  I have really struggled with thinking that everyone (especially people in RUF) have their lives put together. They have never gone through any sort of trial to test their faith. That God loves their family more than mine. That every single thing in their life is perfect.

And I know that it isn't. 

But there is something powerful about hearing that it isn't. There is something power in opening yourself to others and letting them in. There is something about shedding light into the darkest, deepest parts of you. There is something about letting down your walls and showing that you don't have it all together. 
I think that often times, we forget that the reason Jesus came was for the broken and for the hurt and needy. 

Mark 2:17 says "It is not the healthy that need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but the sinners."

Why must we always feel the need to hide our hurt and struggles? Jesus wants to heal them. He puts other in our lives to help each other through. These people I sat and listened to on Saturday night are some of my good friends, people that I see multiple times per week. But some of the things they shared, I would have never suspected. In learning about them and seeing where they struggle, I am able to see how I can love them better and how I can show more grace in certain areas. It was also so cool to see people who thought they were alone hear another person in the room say, "I thought I was the only one!" How amazing it is to find someone who knows exactly how you feel? How amazing is it that God brings those people into our lives. 

You are placed exactly where you are for a specific reason. I would encourage you ask your friends their testimonies and to share yours with them. And if you already have, ask them what Christ has been teaching them recently, or even if they are struggling with. Sometimes, all it takes is someone asking.  It may be awkward at first, but afterwards there is a bond that can't be broken. You get to see your friends in a new light. I promise you won't regret it!

I went into this weekend super discouraged and feeling so spiritual dry. I had no idea why I was there. And I know that the weekend wasn't about it, it was about the students we were serving. But if the reason that God put me there was just to tell my testimony to Ben and Lauren then it was worth it. Even if it was just to hear the stories of the people I serve along for four hours, then the whole weekend was worth it. It's not about it. It's all about God and how we can further serve and glorify Him!


Soli Deo Gloria,
Cullen

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