Reflections on my 62nd birthday: “What if your life were written as a story?”

The question

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.”

The woman in this Charles Perugini painting looks like she’s reading about something far more interesting than my life.

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.

20
Leave a Reply

avatar
10 Comment threads
10 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
12 Comment authors
Barbara RobertsPat GrahamRebecca DavisNorma BrumbaughAnonymous Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
Notify of
NGal
Guest
NGal

Happy Birthday, Rebecca! <3 Congratulations, not just for another year, but because you're able to be grateful and see your life being a refelction of God's goodness.
This is something I have desired for my own life for years… to be the story which tells of His goodness in a palpable way. Sadly, right now, the very opposite seems to be the case… 🙁
And then there are so many accusations thrown at you, when you are not blessed.. 'What sin have you committed'. 'You haven't forgiven enough' etc… 'You haven't done enough / been through enough deliverance / counceling / whatever'…
All the while I see others being blessed – women from more abusive background than myself, still able to meet an marry a loving guy, to be in ministry, to be in a loving community etc.. while I am alone in the season of life which should be the most fruitful… 🙁

Today, I just found out another FB friend had passed away in February. he was a genuine brother in the Lord.. and I realize that life is short, we do not have guarantees of tomorrow, and that is why I so would want to be in God's will today and refelct His nature, instead of costant struggle..

Quietrunner
Guest
Quietrunner

IT DOES❤️❤️❤️

Judy Gingerich
Guest
Judy Gingerich

I have been reading your blog for some months now, and am always blessed by it. This one speaks so well to my own heart desires for my own life. I am some years older than you and often wonder if my life means anything, or will, in the long run!! Because of several people close to me and whom I dearly love, I was introduced to the world of domestic abuse and from there to abuse in the church, a really dark side of all that is to be beautiful and holy. I am one who researches and tries to find truth when faced with these sorts of situations. It’s hard to speak out about these things because many people in the church don’t want to face or to hear about such. I appreciate your honest commentary, Rebecca, and your depth of wisdom…thank you.

Nell Norton
Guest
Nell Norton

I agree with the above comment-very simply Rebecca, your life DOES SPEAK these things in a loud volume. Love you friend!

Cindy Burrell
Guest

Dear Rebecca, I am sure you have discovered as I have that no life is boring when God is in it. Changing diapers, making school lunches and helping with homework, drying others’ tears, holding the hand of someone who is hurting, working hard at a job we don’t enjoy, standing at a grave site to honor someone we loved and so many others seemingly trivial things all have meaning and purpose when we love God and keep Him at the center.

I know God will continue to powerfully bless your faithfulness as you serve and minister to those who have been subject to great darkness and simply long for the life-giving light of truth and grace.

Kayla
Guest
Kayla

Happy Birthday!! So blessed that the story of your life includes our paths crossing.

Stephanie
Guest
Stephanie

Happy Birthday, Rebecca! Thank you for gifting us with your story, for living out your life in such a way to bring help and hope and encouragement.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

A life lived honorably is never a boring thing whatsoever. It may be denigrated by the world but that’s the world. Your blog uplifts and articulates much. I haven’t seen you as boring. I think the quiet, humble life is more worthy of honor, interest, and respect than flashy, ‘exciting’ lives.

It takes a lot of effort to be a person of integrity. To love and care for those who are cast off, to speak truth, to stand against evil, and to be willing to hear of others’ pain. Sitting in their pain is such a hard thing for loving, empathetic, kindhearted people to do.

You’re an author, a blogger, a speaker, a mother, and probably many, many more things. That’s not boring and given the what’s most often given attention in this flashy world, I’d opt for ‘boring’. ‘Boring people’ are most often decent people, salt of the earth, God-fearing people and what can be better than that?

Happy Birthday to you!

Makes me think of this one story about this kid throwing sea stars back into the ocean at low tide and the beach was apparently littered with sea stars (and they can move themselves as far as I know — but assume they are helpless, beached, starfish) and another person asks what the point is, as there are oodles of sea stars and just one kid throwing them back into the water. And no, the kid can’t save them all, but for the ones the kid does save, it matters all the world to them.

So, birthday woman, perhaps you’re not a world leader, or the CEO of a Fortune 500, but for the abused who find your blog, you’re very, very influential and important and a happening person, indeed. Even if you did nothing all your life, but simply was a decent, non-predatory, non-harmful, non-abusive person, that’s successful and worthy in my eyes. That’s notable, especially when compared to the world around us.

It’s good that you blogged about this, as I think we all wonder if our lives matter, if we are boring people. If that’s the worst a critic can say about you, that you are supposedly ‘boring’ (and what is boring, anyhow, seems virtuous to be a good person, a dutiful mother, lead an honest, humble life) then that’s a compliment, in my eyes.

Birthday wishes for you!

Norma Brumbaugh
Guest

Happy you stay with your mission, do what you do, speak life to all, represent the down-trodden, and bless others in the process. Your words speak. Happy Birthday, and God bless.

Pat Graham
Guest
Pat Graham

Thank you! I have learned much through your blogs and appreciate you!

Barbara Roberts
Guest

A good reminder that I need to update my profile photo!