Stories are sacred things. They hold life and death in their lens, beholding and becoming, lessons and legacy. They are fragile and forceful all at the same time. And the bravest journey of all is to fully claim ownership of our own story… unredacted, unapologetic, unashamed.
If you’ve ever known trauma, grief, loss, abuse, heartache… often our family systems and our faith communities are not equipped to handle these kinds of stories with the care they deserve. Especially if the trauma happened in the same settings in which we are searching for support.
We can even be made to feel like our stories don’t belong to us at all.
Rather they belong to the leaders who tell us how not to be broken— go to this seminar, read these books, follow this inner healing protocol, get deliverance prayer, fast longer, pray harder, believe better, do more.
And our stories, of course, belong to God more than they ever belong to us. If they don’t, we should give them over immediately. If we fail to hand over our unprocessed pain on command, we risk being labeled as less spiritual, bitter, or defiant, and being pitied in our brokenness.
Here’s the rub friends:
If we just “give it to God”, the trauma our stories contain never has a chance to be processed in a healthy way, so that it can become a place of healing, growth, and wholeness. Trauma is not just a spiritual condition. It is an emotional, physical, mental, relational, neurobiological, incredibly complex dynamic that needs to be cared for on all the levels it touches.
Because it’s the unprocessed trauma held in our stories that leaves the deepest scars on our souls.
So beloved, the invitation isn’t to “just give it Jesus (or God or the Universe)” and then keep running as quickly as possible to our next act of spiritual performance.
Rather, we are invited to step fully into the moments that changed us. To let Love meet us in the sacred space of our pain to honor our story and transform it. And this may mean seeking out the right support system (including professional help) outside of our existing circles to help facilitate that journey.
We don’t ever have to apologize for telling the things we experienced. Not ever. Our experience is our own and no one can take that away from us.
I used to feel like my story belonged to the people and systems involved in its narrative. That I needed to frame anything I did tell with all the things I probably should have done differently or might be misperceiving or might be wrong about or reasons why things might have happened as they did— just to soften the jagged edges of the wrongs that impacted my journey.
But I’m learning friends that the things I have experienced belong to no one but me.
They are written on my flesh and seared into my soul.
My stories are my own. No one else’s. The mystery is that God in God’s love invites me on a shared journey to unravel and detangle these narratives so they can be rewoven into something more holy and powerful than I can comprehend.
But even then my story is fully my own. And it is sacred. As is yours.
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