• Rebekah Barbera

Your Story is Worth Telling

If there’s anything I’ve learned over the past few years, it’s this: the simplest truths are often the hardest ones to really understand.

In my own life, it’s the truths that have been repeated to me the most, the foundational ones I thought I knew and understood as a kid, that have ended up taking years to finally sink in. That proverbial eighteen-inch journey from the head to the heart, as it turns out, can take a lot longer than you’d think.

One of the more recent truths to finally sink into my heart is this one:

Your story is worth telling.

These five little words popped into my mind a few months ago and have been reverberating in my heart ever since.

Your story is worth telling.

Where did the thought come from, you might ask? As a classic over-analyzer, I asked myself the same thing. I soon realized that it wasn’t just the product of a recent conversation about writing. The truth is, this thought (or an altered version of it, anyway) has been in my mind since I was a kid.

Having grown up in church, I’ve heard countless people share their stories, or testimonies as we usually call them. I loved hearing people’s testimonies as a kid. I still do.

However, at a young age I quickly developed a rating scale of sorts for testimonies. At the top of the scale were my favourites: the exciting ones. You know, the real intense salvation stories of people meeting Jesus and being freed from addictions, gangs, diseases, and all sorts of seemingly impossible situations. Those stories were dramatic – a 10 on the scale. Naturally then, the less dramatic the story, the less exciting the testimony and the lower it ranked in my mind.

Fast-forward to my mid-teens, where I heard a former bike-gang member share his testimony at my church. While I can’t remember exactly what he said, I clearly remember one phrase and the impact it had on me. He said, “Getting saved is like getting hit by a bus.” In retrospect, what he probably meant to say is that salvation is totally undeniable and life changing. Surely, I agree with that.

But what I remember thinking, sitting there on that hard wooden church pew, is that my salvation story didn’t feel like that. My getting saved didn’t feel like getting hit by a big Jesus bus. I remember thinking, “If my story isn’t dramatic like this man’s, well, what kind of story is it? Is it even real?”

What the former biker shared, although well-meant, somehow got twisted in my mind. His words seemed to confirm a lie that I had already believed, even subconsciously, for years. My testimony isn’t dramatic, it’s boring, and certainly not worth sharing. On top of that, it led to my questioning the very validity of my own salvation.

And so, if you had asked me about my story when I was younger, I would have responded with something like this:

I, your typical church kid, learned about Jesus in a small country Baptist church and accepted Him into my life at age six. After that, I got to know God better but went on to question Him and my faith throughout my teen years. I then had an encounter and some dreams that led to me recommitting my life to Jesus when I was twenty. End of story (Insert shrug here).

That’s how I saw my testimony until recently. Your basic church kid testimony. Not dramatic. Nothing special. Not really worth sharing. Maybe a three or four on the testimony scale.

My thoughts on testimonies, my own story, and the experiences that shaped them faded into the background of my life until my twenties, when I began dreaming of writing. It wasn’t long before the same thoughts and lies popped up, giving me all the reasons not to write.

My testimony isn’t dramatic, it’s boring, and certainly not worth sharing.

You have nothing to say.

No one wants to hear your story.

What can you say that someone else hasn’t already said better than you ever could?

With these thoughts in my head and insecurities in my heart, I wrote a few blog posts and put my writing on a shelf, where it stayed for a few years.

Fast-forward again to a quiet night in Beijing when I heard five little words whispered to my heart in the stillness of my bedroom: Your story is worth telling.

The Truth in those words, although they had been knocking on my heart for some time, finally sunk in. Somehow, it untangled and silenced the insecurities and lies I had believed for most of my life.

I’ve since come to realize that there is no rating scale for testimonies. Dramatic does not equal better because there is no better. Each one is an amazing testament to the many ways God works.

As I began to value my testimony, my thinking shifted. I began to see just how deep God went in my life and the many layers He peeled back in the process. I began to see victory over lies and fears, things that I’ve been through and come out of stronger on the other side. Things I now recognize in others and can speak into. And finally, I began to see the power testimonies truly have.

I know now that my story is worth telling. And let me tell you, yours is too.

Maybe you’ve grown up in church and have believed some of the things I’ve written about. Maybe they’ve never crossed your mind. Maybe it’s not your testimony you feel insecure about, but another aspect of your life, your story. Whichever the case, and whatever your story is, I want you to know that it’s precious and worth sharing.

Our stories have power. By being vulnerable and sharing our struggles and breakthroughs, we can invite others out of their current struggles. We can inspire hope. We can silence shame and lies that tell people that they’re the only ones who struggle.

In a culture that values highlight reels, photo filters, and only posting prettied-up versions of ourselves, I encourage you to value all the parts of your story – not just the dramatic ones.

So to the people who have had struggles and have come out on the other side; To the people who, by grace, were kept from so many of the tragedies that happen in this world; And to everyone who has ever doubted that they have something worth saying, remember:

Your story is worth telling.

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©2018 by Truth and Travels

Photos by Christopher Vega