As the minutes passed, my apprehension grew. There I was, sitting in front of 100 women at my church. We were there to learn about the power of prayer and my friend Rachel was leading the class.
A few months before, Rachel had approached me about being on the panel. She envisioned us sort of like the ladies on The View, answering questions and engaging in discussion about how prayer has changed our lives.
I knew the questions to be presented, and I knew what God was laying on my heart to share.
But when Rachel asked that first question, I was certain the lady beside me could hear my pounding heart.
Rachel spoke it clear, “What thought does the word “desperate” automatically bring to your mind?”
The two other ladies on the panel shared their thoughts, then it was my turn.
When I think of desperate I remember when my first husband left me with our three children ages 11 weeks, 19 months, and 4 years old. He suffered from a drug addiction that drove him to the streets. I will never forget the evening I sat in our driveway and cried for the first time after he disappeared. My world was crumbling around me and I couldn’t think of how I was going to raise these three babies alone.
The women in the crowd simply stared at me, some with tears pouring down their cheeks, others covering their mouths in shock. I saw one shake her head, eyeing me with sorrow.
We went on to answer the other questions; I breathed a sigh of relief when our session ended. The heavy weight of admitting that hidden part of myself to the church body lifted. I felt free.
When you share the darkest parts of your story, somehow there’s this vulnerability and strength that surfaces from deep within.
Over the next four weeks I went on to share more from my story; each time my heart beat just as fast. It never got easier to share but I grew more confident about opening up and being okay with how others responded.
After each session a few women came to me and shared slices of their stories as they thanked me for being brave and honest.
They opened up with their own brave words but more importantly they released pieces of themselves that had been locked away for far too long.
This is the power of story, when we open up our darkest places and reveal the parts begging for light and others find their way in the glow.
When we hear a woman share her heart and we feel our own hearts pound and our mouths go dry, and that yearning to open up is surprisingly strong . . . the Holy Spirit is prompting you to break free, to share your story.
Deeper Still: Have you shared your story? Are you in a place where you can help others share their stories? What are some encouraging tips you would leave for others?
~by Sarah Knepper