verb (used without object), tes·ti·fied, tes·ti·fy·ing.1. to bear witness; give or afford evidence.2. Law. to give testimony under oath or solemn affirmation, usually in court.3. to make solemn declaration.
verb (used with object), tes·ti·fied, tes·ti·fy·ing.4. to bear witness to; affirm as fact or truth; attest.5. to give or afford evidence of in any manner.6. Law. to state or declare under oath or affirmation, usually in court.7. to declare, profess, or acknowledge openly.
The one that stands out most to me in that definition is “to declare, profess, or acknowledge openly.”
That very line has been the theme of one of my greatest fears. The reason for my greatest stumbling block, in relation to my faith.
There is a lot of talk about testimony in the church circle. The Bible talks about the power of words, the power of a testimony, and thus the church talks a lot about it as well.
As a writer and a reader, I can not deny the power of words and the effect a story can have on someone’s soul.
Its a tangible, almost uncomfortable feeling when someone’s story settles over your bones and you realize you’re not alone. Or that you’re more fortunate than you ever gave your life credit for.
Or most, that there is hope for you yet. Because there was hope for the storyteller, standing in front of you sharing an experience they shouldn’t have survived.
I have heard many testimonies in the past few years; heard people share the huge revelation of God, or the gentle whisper of the Spirit that turned them around. Each time, I have sat in awe. Thinking to myself, “I have had those moments with Him, but they don’t tie into a neat little bow like this.”
The problem is, like everyone else, I have a lifelong testimony. God has been affecting my world for longer than I can remember, and my faith is based in some real, tangible, often unbelievable experiences. I should be dead right now, or at the very least…working anywhere but a Pentacostal church office.
I don’t have the most heartbreaking of stories, I didn’t hit rock-bottom only to look up from my stupor and see the way of Jesus. I didn’t spend years working against Him, or doing the unthinkable acts that many have shared with me over the years.
I also, despite my mother’s intentions, did not grow up knowing Him and seeking Him. I understood, I knew some of the stories, I owned a Bible and attended church. I have a baptism story, one to be proud of in a way…I suppose. But He was rarely the cornerstone, the jumping board, or even the last resort. I knew of Him, but I don’t know that I ever truly knew Him.
My life has been relatively cut and dry, white picket fence like…good parents, decent grades, friends who carried me through, a community that did a decent job of seeing the good (even when there wasn’t much left). High school rebellion followed by a crash course in growing up smart rather than not at all. I’ve had a pretty “regular” life by today’s standards.
However, I struggle when asked to share my testimony…and thankfully, I haven’t been asked too often. I wonder sometimes if anyone in my church has noticed that they haven’t really heard my story. That they are all just believing me on faith and pre-conceived impressions. I don’t know how to break it down. I don’t know where to start, I don’t know where to stop, and I definitely don’t know how to wrap it up in a neat little bow of Heavenly realization.
One of my goals for 2014 is to share at least part of my faith story here and, as an extension, with some of the people in my life who deserve to hear it. The first part of this goal is to figure out what it is that is holding me back, and I think I’ve got it!
I have a few problems.
I’m wordy by nature. I can’t share some of the words, I want to share ALL of the words.
- My mind is constant chaos, my world is pretty chaotic on the best of days, and therefore…my faith story has been pretty chaotic as well. Its like trying to find that one piece of paper, after having your entire filing system emptied out onto the floor.
- Until recently, I wasn’t sure I wanted to share anything at all. I’m embarrassed by parts of my faith story, and like many living in the North American culture, I’m afraid of what YOU might think if I start talking about God.
I think number 3 has been my biggest holdback, and also my biggest mistake. Essentially, this church receptionist, church media director, once upon a time youth leader and faithful member of the congregation, was embarrassed by God. I have stepped away from countless opportunities, and even left my position in the youth department because I did not feel I was going to be useful or effective if I was unable to share my story and the Gospel. I’m useless leading a group of youth through their questions and concerns about Christianity, if I’m embarrassed by the God they are seeking.
However, I have reached a point where, if I am going to lead the life I am leading (meaning the life I have silently believed God for leading me to)… I have to be all in. No more excuses, no more hiding behind my fears and failures.
Its time to be honest with you and with the rest of my world.
Over the next month or so, I will be posting bits of my story and trying to find a way to either become comfortable with ALL of the words, or reduce the word count enough to hand it to you like so many I know have done before me.
I feel that this is an essential part of the journey for me, and I can only hope that it will offer a bit of hope and comfort to others out there struggling with their own stories.
My mother told me the other night that we are all human, in relation to a particularly rough day at work in which I felt I had actually set myself further behind. That was her only response.
“Well, Bugg, you’re only human. Like the rest of us.”
I don’t think she realized that she was speaking into more instances in my life than she could ever have intended.
We all have moments, experiences, choices and words that we wish we could take back, or even hide under a box in the closet.
The true freedom comes in realizing we are not alone, and sometimes…the easiest way to do that is to let your own story settle into someone else’s bones.