Sharing Our Stories

By Jessica Culp 6-17-2008

Yesterday I was in a class where we were trying to frame up the story of ourselves--not just an idealistic fluffy tale--but one that when you told it, others would understand in their gut why you felt the way you feel and maybe even get a glimpse of the "real" you and move a little bit closer to you as a person. A gentleman shared with me his negative feeling of experiencing that vulnerability. I do believe that most people feel this way...scared to go deeper....scared to really talk about raw happenings and going beyond the issues to a place that is personal. I think that may be very natural, especially surrounded by strangers whom you are meeting for the first time. In reality, being vulnerable to strangers has always been easier for me, than being vulnerable with those I am close to in many ways. I realized that I may be different than others in that respect, and I'm okay with that. Thinking about what this man said took me back to a page in The One Year Daily Grind by Sarah Arthur, a devotional I have been reading for the last year, that addresses what she calls "The Secret of Weakness".

"..the secret of weakness is not primarily about that God is trying to teach us in the midst of our struggles but how God wants to bless others in the midst of our struggles. People seek out the church, not necessarily because Christians are strong and vibrant and healthy, but because honest Christians have known what it is like to be weak. They have known suffering. They have felt the stab of pain and loss. They have held each other in their sorrow- they have knelt at the beds of dying people, prayed in the ER, handed tissues to someone at the end of a rough day. And the reason people come through the sanctuary doors week after week is not because Christians have it all together or have eliminated suffering from their schedules but because they are still able to say, after all this, 'We know that our Redeemer lives.'

The world is looking for saints to pray with who have known the depths of weakness, because that's where this world is. It doesn't want light, fluffy spirituality. It wants to kneel next to the Jobs who have seen the face of God. And that's what we as a Christian community can be for the hurting. Out pain and suffering are not some kind of spiritual liability. They're how God positions us to bless others."

This speaks to me in that I don't have to be ashamed of my weakness--that God can use it to help others that are hurting. Yesterday in the panel discussion: What about our faith calls us into this work? Embodying the Kingdom of God, Alexia Salvatierra and Alexie Torres-Fleming talked about how we need to work alongside the hurting. We can be so much more effective when we can pull from the depths of our souls the pains and trials we have suffered, and at the same time extend the hope that everyone deserves. We have a Savior to back us up.

Jessica Culp is a wife and mother, as well as a fundraiser for Cunningham Children's Home in Urbana, Illinois.

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