What is it about sharing our stories that’s so raw? So real? No matter what you believe, it’s hard to argue with a personal story when we hear one.
Have you ever heard of cardboard testimonies?
With a permanent marker and a blank poster, a story of redemption is told. One side of the poster shares the person’s struggle, and the opposite shares the deliverance.
It’s powerful. The very act of sharing is bold, brave, tear-worthy. That anything greater than skin-deep would be proclaimed for strangers simply inspires awe.
As part of my church’s end-of-semester celebration, we were asked to share our own cardboard testimonies. Our pastor invited anyone to participate.
It’s no secret that I love a good grace story. I’ve walked through so many struggles, friends. You have too. (We all have.)
But this panic hit me, deep in my soul. I was afraid I had nothing to share.
You see, my story isn’t in the past tense.
God has done many things in my life . . . and he is doing many things today. This mess of me isn’t quite cleaned up.
And so my testimony, I feared, was without resolution. Because God is in the process, I thought I had nothing to share.
The service drew to a close and men and women walked towards the stage with poster board testimonies. These were glory-inspiring stories, God’s beautiful work.
Each piece of cardboard was raised and tears welled up in my eyes. I identified, connected with these stories of God’s rich grace. It was the same grace I experience every day.
When I decided not to share my own testimony, I missed something huge: God is God, resolution or not.
And He has done big things and He is doing big things.
Our God is a God of process.
My struggles have yet to be wrapped up with a shiny bow. What I’m learning, though, is that the stories God writes rarely end with bow.
Our God is not a God of only the past tense. Our God is a God of the past tense, the present tense and the future tense. He’s God of the ___ed, the ___ing and the will ___.
As a wise friend told me, God wants us to remember the darkness that is infused with light. That’s the path we are on: one well-lit.
No, we may not have a tidy ending to share. But that’s okay. God’s not finished and in that, we can find peace.
Inspired, I wrote a few of my own cardboard testimonies – rather, construction paper testimonies.
(What I share is, like any testimony, raw and real. You need to know that I am doing very well today and life is a process and a path we’re all on, yes? Thanks for your grace, friends. And hey, stop the video when my face stops moving, please? Otherwise it’s my freeze-frame face for 90-ish seconds. First vlog; look past my editing skills?)
Consider this an invocation to share our stories today. What is happening may not be finished. What is broken may not yet be fixed. What is off may not yet be on. We may not have sorted through the details, sifted through the debris, wiped the sleep from our eyes yet. And oh, how perfect we are in the center of progress. We may be in the darkness, but how light-infused it is.
God isn’t done yet. And that is one beautiful truth.
I’d love to hear your construction paper testimony. What’s your story — here, now, today?