When it comes to sharing stories about our past, Me too is not enough.
The recent expose’ of sexual allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein have exploded into a suffragette’s march against sexual harassment and abuse of women at large. A recent campaign on Facebook encouraged women who have kept silent for decades about encounters with sexual abuse to come forward with a simple meme, Me too.
My heart breaks for the thousands of women who have been treated as mere objects in the hands, hearts, and libidos of control freaked men. For too long, our society has tilled the ground of men’s undisciplined sex drives and turned its head aside at things that seem as innocuous as a wolf whistle—but aren’t.
I squirm, however, at the whole-sale pressure for women to join ranks and tell publically whether they’ve been abused or harassed.
Do all of us need to tell our stories to everyone?
I had the same question at my first writer’s conference.
The keynote speaker pronounced that each of us has a story. Only YOU can tell the story of your life, we heard. It is your responsibility to God to tell your story.
Must I tell the world about the bad times in my life, how I’ve suffered, how others have ‘done me wrong’ and cast me aside, how life has been insanely unfair? When is it appropriate to tell and when is it ok for me to remain silent?
If I tell only of the hurt, I miss the opportunity to shout what God has done for me. “Me too” is not enough.
As my ladies’ Bible study group read through Carol Kent’s book, “Becoming A Woman of Influence,” we’ve studied Jesus’ approach to disclosure. He actually used stories to dole out the truth a bit at a time. He intentionally chose not to divulge too much too soon because of the hardened hearts of some of his listeners. His stories, the parables, had a dual purpose. They enticed those hungering for more but kept at bay those who would use Jesus’ words against him before it was his time. Jesus made His words count. Each parable had a purpose, a point.
Our Bible study group realized that the stories we tell should contain certain elements. If we’re going to influence people with the gospel message, the stories we divulge should accomplish the following:
Relate to others. My motive in telling my story is not to grandstand myself. I tell about me so others can relate, connect, and be more open to what I have to say. Jesus’ story of the lost coin is a wonderful example of Jesus’ ability to relate to women. Which of us has not lost something important and felt such relief when we found it that we wanted to celebrate with our girlfriends? What an awesome way to drive home Jesus’ point that the angels in heaven throw a huge celebration whenever someone finds faith in God.
Provide solutions. Contrary to what I understood for years, 2 Corinthians 1:2,3 does not say that I suffer so I can share my story of suffering with those who suffer in a similar way. If I’m going to help someone who is experiencing something I’ve gone through before, retelling the story of my tough time isn’t enough. If I take that approach, I’m in danger of a “You haven’t suffered anything like I have. Can you top this?” mentality. Our purpose is not one-upmanship.
Instead, my purpose is to offer comfort, the same comfort Jesus gave me when I went through my hard time. If you have suffered abuse or harassment, you need to do more than identify with Harvey Weinstein’s victims. You need to show there is a way to mend the damage and how that mending comes through Jesus Christ. Make the comfort you received count.
Proclaim what God has done. This is a biblical command! Psalm 9:11 says,
Sing the praises of the Lord, enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations what he has done.
The poet, in his enthusiasm, makes it more personal in Psalm 66:16:
Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me.
As you ponder your personal story, ask yourself:
- What has God done for me?
- How has He provided for me?
- How have I witnessed His presence?
- How has he rescued me or those I love from harm?
- How has He transformed my life?
- If you have a story behind one of those questions, you have a story to tell that will bless and comfort others, and proclaim the power and love of the God you serve.
The world is mired with bad news stories. It doesn’t need one more reminder of the fallen state of man. The stories we as Christians tell should not add to fear and despair; they should offer a way out. Let’s offer hope.
Have you been transformed and delivered by the power of Jesus Christ? Me too!
How has God transformed, protected, or provided for you? Who needs to hear your story?