Holley Gerth recently wrote about how she sent these words in an email to the first (in)courage contributors: “Be courageous and write in a way that scares you a little.” As one of the early contributors, I remember when the email containing those words dropped into my inbox and how it affected me.
I was equal parts frightened and invigorated.
You see, in my early blogging days, I ran every post through a four-part internal filter before I hit publish: What would my dad/pastor/neighbors/family think of this? Would they think less of me? Would I be embarrassed? Would they be embarrassed?
I allowed this internal filter to prevent me from sending words into the world that might have helped other women, women who needed to know they weren’t alone or that someone else felt or thought the same as they did. Insecurity blinded me. It kept me from seeing that I had something to offer if I could get out of my own way and let God use me for His purposes instead of worrying about my own.
Holley’s prompt to write courageously prodded me to lean into my fears. When I did, I discovered something fascinating: the people whose reactions I feared most were the ones who reacted the most positively, as if they knew I had more to give and were pleased when I did. If I was afraid of what my dad might think, invariably he’d liked my Facebook status linking to the post. If I was afraid of what my children would think, I would find they’d left a positive comment.
I let fear quiet my voice. The desire to be a people-pleaser still silences me sometimes, but I rest in the knowledge that the people in my corner support me are are not looking for opportunities to tear me down. The world needs my voice, and it needs yours too.
We find our voice in various ways, but one way to pinpoint it is to identity our most difficult life experiences. The strength we can gain from enduring hardships can become our superpower to help others. When we can harness what we’ve learned from the pain, we can turn it around and use it to help others in similar pain.
Years ago, we visited our family out of state. My husband’s aunt had recently miscarried a baby, and I didn’t know what to say to her. I felt guilty holding my healthy baby boy, and because I didn’t know how to comfort her, I didn’t say anything.
A few months later, I ended up miscarrying our third child, and though I couldn’t relate to my husband’s aunt at that time, I now could understand what it felt like to experience that kind of loss. From that painful experience, I’ve been able to walk with other women who have miscarried, and I advise them not to bottle up their tears and how normal it is to feel sudden anger over advertisements for diapers and baby lotion.
So often we believe we have to have it all together in order to help someone, but it simply isn’t true. Perfection isn’t relatable. We relate to Jesus — and He to us — because He endured betrayal, temptation, and not only the pain but also the shame of the cross.
For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.
Hebrews 2:18 (NKJV)
Think about the experiences of pain you had, and take a moment to write them down. For example, have you suffered a job loss or a financial crisis? Are you a victim of abuse? Have you experienced the loss of a spouse, a child, or a parent? Has your heart been broken by the dissolution of a marriage or a friendship? Have you miscarried a baby? Do you live with physical pain or health issues that impact your daily life?
As you reflect on those experiences, what truths have you learned as a result of your afflictions? Write down what you learned about God and about yourself, and as you hold these testimonies in your heart, know that your pain isn’t wasted. One day, it may bring comfort to someone.
So often we believe we have to have it all together in order to help someone, but it simply isn't true. Perfection isn't relatable. -@DawnMHSH: Click To Tweet