I’ve spoken in a number of Christian school chapels over the years. As a professional storyteller I’d speak in chapel with a true story from one of my missionary books, and then as the “visiting author” I’d go around to the classrooms and answer questions.
One of the questions I’d often get was this: “If your life were written as a story, what would you want it to say?”
(A student would ask it, but I always had a sneaking suspicion that it was a teacher who came up with the question.)
My reply would consistently be, “Oh, I’d never want my life to be written as a story. My life is way too boring.”
One time when I gave that answer, the sixth-grade boy who had asked the question got a look on his face of confusion and shame.
I thought, “Oh no, he’s embarrassed because he thinks he asked a stupid question.” And I felt bad that I had done that to him.
So I began to ask the Lord for a new answer to that question. That was a hard one, because it sounded kind of awful to have my life written into a story because my life has indeed been very boring.
But I tried.
My almost non-existent capacity
There have been several turning points in my life, but the one I want to talk about here happened in 2012.
Before 2012 I had been exposed to sexual abuse only a little bit. My capacity was so limited. You know what I mean about capacity? Before 2012 I would sometimes hear something like,
“I was gang raped, and then I married one of the gang rapists.”
Or “I was sex trafficked by my father on his lunch hour.”
In every case the best way I can explain it is that my head filled up and I felt like I was under water. I felt like I had to put a stop to it and come up for air.
And then I never mentioned it again and in some extreme cases actually completely forgot it.
Professional counselors (which I am not) learn in their schooling about all these kinds of assaults, I suppose, and how to best respond to them, and learn all about capacity and what to do when theirs has been reached and how to increase it. But I was just an ordinary Christian woman who had been trained as a high school teacher who wanted to be a friend to people . . . who was sometimes in over my head.
“Please read the blogs and Facebook pages”
But in 2012 one of these friends said something life changing to me. “Please read the blogs and Facebook pages” (in that case, specifically about abuse allegations at Bob Jones University). I did, even looking up some of the pastors I had learned were abusers, to hear the Twilight Zone theme ringing in my ears. (“You are about to enter another dimension.”)
At that time this world of sexual abuse by Christian leaders was, I’m sorry to say, new to me.
But the Lord had prepared me in a few ways. I’ve mentioned before the situation of domestic abuse in the church that I’d been walking through with a friend since 2006.
But even a few years before that, He had taken me through a time of very severe spiritual testing, to show that He was faithful and He was capable. (I alluded to that here.) I’ve written many blog posts based on truths He showed me in His Word and confirmed through that time of testing.
I was already a researcher, having researched for my missionary books. But more significantly, I had just finished a year of research about Western government, business, financial, and military corruption (which I alluded to here). When I say “finished,” I mean in a very complete sense I was done, because one night in June of 2012, the corruption and wickedness I had learned about had caused me to be filled with fear to the point that I was crying out to God. I told Him very pointedly that night that I didn’t want to be afraid but wanted to trust Him.
That night He swiftly and completely removed the fear, and I slept peacefully.
Two weeks later a woman was sitting on my couch having flashbacks and asking me to do research into sexual abuse in the church.
My life changed drastically at that time. My life story took I shift I never would have expected. I’ve headed into darkness I didn’t even know before existed.
And I’m thankful.
“If your life were written as a story, what would you want it to say?”
I have an answer now. I’m willing for my life to be written for others to read.
I want my life to be one of . . .
Integrity—being the same person at all times and in all places, without duplicity.
Love—treating others the way I would want to be treated.
Boldness—speaking and living the truth no matter the cost.
and Faithfulness—carrying through the mission God has called me to, even when the odds seem impossibly hard.
After all, as I was reading in 1 Samuel just the other day, “It is not difficult for the Lord to save by many or by few.”
I want the record of my life to be that I have been found faithful. I want to continue to have increasing understanding of the truths that our God has proclaimed in His Word and in His world, and proclaim those beautiful truths to others. I want to continue learning and seeking and knowing the true Lord Jesus Christ, in all His power and glory, and point others to Him. “Look—there’s Jesus! Let’s follow Him together.”
I want to be willing to face the evil as a warrior in the Kingdom of God.
Not by my own efforts, my own bootstrap grunting and straining, but by the power of the Holy Spirit of the living Christ, Christ in me, the hope of glory.
In integrity, love, and boldness, I want to be found faithful to the Kingdom of holy love offered by our Lord Jesus Christ to all those who will have faith in Him.
That’s what I want the story of my life to say.