“This morning I was reading in Mark chapter 9. And I was like asking the Holy Spirit to help me to see how this relates to my life or what I need to see from the passage, but there are instances in the passage where Jesus asks questions. Jesus asking questions really confuses me but then I realized that one of the questions he asked was in reference to this boy who he was about to heal. He asked the father “how long has blah blah been happening.” And I was like oh crap, all of this crap we’re doing is Biblical. Like Jesus wanted the story behind the pain not because he didn’t already know but because he wants us to go there with him! I’m sure there are more stream line examples of this in the Bible but it’s really been hitting me how he wants to go back into every moment where I believe lies about myself. I just had to tell y’all bc my friends in college really don’t get any of this stuff. It’s hard bc I kinda feel like they’re so rigid and forget that God is so much bigger than anything we could ever imagine. I miss y’all and how open y’all are to just doing into deep, scary places with Jesus!!  Being sexually assaulted and perverting sex sucks but today I feel so loved. I feel strength. I feel parts of myself I thought I lost return. I feel a piece of freedom in my body again. All of this has allowed me to make my faith, my life, and voice my own with Jesus. I know I’m gonna have to go through this book again because one time isn’t enough, but I haven’t felt this hopeful in awhile. It’s sweet. It’s growth.”

This a message from a young woman (I asked her permission to publish) in a group text that I’m included in from our Her Held Heart class which is a class specifically designed to address the wounds from past sexual abuse. This small group of women is journeying together for the year, healing from the pain of sexual abuse in all the many forms it has taken in our lives.  We are sharing our stories in safe community, discovering the lies, moving through the pain because THE ONLY WAY OUT IS THROUGH! 

There’s so much I could say about this sweet text from this beautiful young heart –

Her feeling of safety…

Her brave in the face of scary things…

Her love for community and safe, sacred space…

Her willingness to go deep…

Her awareness of herself and her own courageous steps…

BUT for this post I want to focus on her discovery in Mark chapter 9…Jesus’ desire to hear the story.  I have been hearing much about this topic as of late. One of my besties, in the trenches with me on this journey, turned me onto a podcast named “The Place We Find Ourselves” hosted by Adam Young. It is an honest look at the power of story

of standing in the gap as story catchers to hold others’ stories

of choosing to embrace and bravely share our own stories of pain, tragedy, loss, disappointment, brokenness, invisibility.

It has touched me deeply as I have listened.

I have known for a long time that I am a story catcher of sorts and also that I am a brave soul sharing my own stories…I have known it was healing to catch and to pitch the stories of our lives, I know our stories are important to the Lord but I don’t think I recognized the deep significance until this text, these podcasts, this moment.

In our coaching classes we teach and repeatedly remind our students about the “gift of listening” and the healing value of this skill. You know how you know something but you don’t really KNOW something until you KNOW it! Sometimes it has to smack you right between the eyes for KNOWING to be KNOWN!

Mark 9:21-24 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”  “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

An all-knowing God already knows the story…why did He ask?

Because I believe that we have to tell our story…Jesus knew this…telling our story heals us-

body: the brain is physically changed by making connections when we tell our story

soul: the heart feels seen and heard, emotions metabolized to move past trauma when we tell our story

spirit: connects us to the Author penning the story, the Savior who died for all of it when we tell our story

THE POWER OF STORY

We have a deep need to be known, to be seen and heard, to feel connection and this all happens when we intentionally see each other – really see – the heart behind the stories of our lives that drive behavior, create the beliefs, distort the perception. The stories that broke us and shaped us, that changed us and rearranged us, that forever rerouted us onto paths unintended and sealed our need for a Savior to make all things right.

Each story, a treasure to hold for another in safe, sacred space so healing can begin!

Jesus knew this…so He asked, what’s the story?!

He wants to hear all the stories and go to those deep, scary spaces with us.

He is not afraid of the tales hidden in the dark.

He is not afraid of all the emotions threatening to emerge and drown.

He is not afraid of of your anger at others or at Him.

He is not afraid of any of it.

Your story holds the key to greater intimacy with Him. Engaging your story invites Him into the honesty, the horror, the hideousness of humanity that must be explored so that this story’s hold can be loosed, shaken off and resurrected. Inviting Jesus gives us the capacity to feel all of it, unearth the lies, and own the behaviors that destroy us. Inviting Him into our story gives us eyes to see clearer that little girl/boy broken in our story by careless others. Inviting Him offers a compassion to our own hearts that we are worthy of love, to be seen and known.

This is why He asks that soul shaking, waking, quaking question – what is your story?

For He knows that it is in the telling of your own stories that you will find your power to live a life sprinkled with

grace

confidence

compassion

forgiveness

courage

Your story is important, every one of them!

I was on vacation this past week, it was a lovely space and time. We walked the pristine white beach, canoed in a black water river, and rode bikes on narrow wooded pathways. Lots of adventure!

One of the evenings there we went on a night bike ride. Thankfully our lead bikers had lights to guide the way because it was dark, stars and moon were not enough to light these paths to my liking..I’m sort of a scaredy cats in some ways.

Scared of spider webs wrapping around me as I speed through

Scared of small animals running across and turning back to glare at me

Scared of the feeling of being lost in the darkness

Yea, I’m a bonafide scaredy cat in lots of ways, but it doesn’t keep me from getting on the bike and taking a night ride anyway! Not anymore!! 

At one point during the ride I felt anxiety rise up as paths narrowed and the woods wrapped tight around me…eyes darting looking into the darkness for creepy crawlers and boogey men, threatening to topple me off the bike and propel me to the ground.  During this panicky moment I had this clear thought…where my eyes look, everything else follows.

 

I was reminded of this same feeling and experience on the ski slopes in New Mexico. When my eyes focused on the trees outlining the edge of the cliff or the drop over the side of the cliff..my skis naturally and uncontrollably, and frankly terrifyingly, move toward disaster.

The same experience was happening on the bike path…focus on the trees outline, the narrowing of the path, the drop of the small bridge created not only anxiety but impending doom that this very thing I feared would happen.

Interesting stuff…pondering in the dark, risking my life, (not really),

I was aware of the power of the eyes and where we look dictates the outcome.

 

Where are you looking?

at the danger, the disaster, the denial, the destruction, the devastation, the diabolical…

Are you letting it control your next move?

Are you letting it dictate where you are going?

Are you letting it drive your behavior?

Are you letting it keep you isolated, paralyzed, hidden, playing small?

Are you letting it rule over you?

Are you letting it win?

 

Know this…the threat is real!  It is possible that when you move things will shift but what if you focused on the path in front of you instead, focused on your feet and where they are headed instead of where you are scared they might go. 

Where are you looking?

It’s a good question to ask…and once you figure it out…adjust your vision!

So let me tell you a story about this….Tuesday night she came home determined to learn these spelling words for Wednesday because her teacher told her if you got them all right on Wednesday then you didn’t have to take the test on Friday. So she was determined. After having studied “all day” I called them out to her for the first time. She got a little over half right…and then came big old tears. When she cries she has the biggest most perfectly, beautiful teardrops that just splatter when they fall. Her eyes were a blur with salty water drops. She’s very hard on herself – demands perfection from herself which provided the perfect moment for a serious conversation to her heart.

“Did you do your best? Just now taking this ‘test’ the first time did you do your best?”  “That is all we ever want from you, YOUR best…if it means you make an A, a C or an F – if you did your best it doesn’t matter to me what your grade is.  What’s important is your heart, your character – Are you kind? Do you love people well? Are you generous? Do you see people? That’s what matters to us!”

We continued to practice and by the third round she had spelled them all correctly and was quite proud of herself. One more practice round in the morning before schools and she was ready for the test – hence the A+

It was a great victory for her and I believe an even bigger victory for me!

I haven’t always parented this way and my three oldest have suffered as a result of it. I went to bed a little teary and heartsick myself.

When they were little we attended Westminster Christian Academy and then moved to Lafayette Christian Academy – lots of pressure to perform. Schools demand our best – we are rewarded with gold stars and good grades and performance is valued. It can be a ‘dog eat dog’ world as children compare themselves to one another in the system that schools have established and decided what is considered “good”.

Lots of pressure!

And my need to perform was high when my oldest were little – I didn’t know any better – I was in the system. Their performance was a reflection of my “good” parenting!

Pressure!!

Being able to sit across from my youngest and speak the truth about what life has taught me about school, in recent, years was the sweetest. We have homeschooled for the last seven years in a what is know as a classical education. One of my favorite things about the program we have been involved with is that I have learned to celebrate what my children have learned not what they don’t know.

When my third oldest started the program we were at a disadvantage because started half way through the year so I was worried that we would be behind in Latin and her very wise teacher told me, “We are going to celebrate that she has learned half a year of Latin, half a year of Latin material that she didn’t know before and we are not going to worry about what she hasn’t learned yet.”

 

And thus started my journey of learning to celebrate what we learn along the way.

I think sometimes as parents we focus on the wrong things. The truth from this perspective is that the first time around with Evyn’s spelling list she actually knew 13 of the 20 new words she had been given.

Now that’s worthy of celebration!

She knew 13 new words not that she didn’t know 7 of them.

It was a sweet conversation and I am happy to know what I know now to parent her differently. As I said earlier I went to bed teary because I recognized the damage that the performance mindset had on my older kids.

I called each one of them the next morning to share this story with them and to apologize for inflicting on them

the need to perform,

the need to do better because their good enough wasn’t enough,

the need to fold under the pressure being pushed upon all of us.

And they are so gracious with their once young and dumb mom who was doing what she thought was right but didn’t have a clue.

I’m so thankful for grace and the fact that we can learn do things differently and the gift of apologizing for the mistakes we have made in the past in our ignorance.

 

So stop judging yourself, may you be safe from your own judgement and I ask you, just like I asked my youngest, “Are you doing your best right now in this moment?”

If you are not then choose to step into your best
But
If you are then know this – your best is ENOUGH!