A couple weeks ago I spoke at a cancer support group in California. It’s called Anchor and is run by a fellow cancer-kicker named Kathy, who will probably kill me for drawing attention to her. She is kind and humble and surrendered to whatever God wants to do with her. And what He has been doing with her is giving hope and comfort to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people suffering from the effects of cancer for the last 10 years.
The week before I was scheduled to speak, she left me an excited voicemail about why sharing our story is so important. As a result, I integrated her thoughts into my talk and can’t stop thinking about that message 2 weeks later. So, here’s what I learned from Kathy and hope to make you “not stop thinking about it” either.
Part of what sparked Kathy’s message to me, was that she had seen the Passion Play at her church a couple days prior. This was the week before Easter. What struck her was a phrase that ran throughout the play. Whenever Jesus was doing important, loving, healing things, people would turn to Matthew (one of his disciples who wrote the book of Mathew in the Bible, mostly recounting these “Jesus stories”) and say, “make sure you write that down, Mathew!”
Kathy’s take-away was; Wonder if no one had written down all that Jesus did? How would we suffer as a result of not knowing these accounts of Jesus? How would our lives, our world, our calendar, be different? Wonder if no one told His story?
And naturally, my next question to you is, “How will this world be different if you don’t share your story?”
Just because you don’t have a cancer story or an addiction story or what you would consider an exciting story, doesn’t mean your story shouldn’t be told. It doesn’t mean what you have gone through or are going through may not be impactful, encouraging, inspiring or comforting to someone else. Everyone’s story matters.
I used to worry that when my cancer journey was over, my writing skills and content would be over also. But for better or for worse, I soon realized that I still suffer from these common plagues of the heart, as I call them. Plagues like worry, fear, resentment, comparison, control, etc. Because those diseases are chronic, it seems I will never run out of material.
I continue to tell my story, not because it is impressive or exhilarating, but because it’s real. It’s as honest as I am capable of being. It’s raw and #unfiltered, as my book title indicates.
Here’s the thing: Me telling my open and shameless story, my story about nothing and everything, gives you permission to tell yours. I have seen it over and over again. When I lead with vulnerability, when I go first, whoever I am talking with feels relaxed and is willing to “match me.” Just when they thought they were the only one who thinks that, does that, says that, or feels that, they hear me admit my shortcomings or character defects. They relax from the inside out. They know they are not alone and that gives them the tiniest glimpse of hope.
Your story can do the same. Someone has to go first...it might as well be you.
You can do it, if you are willing.
You go first.
Read another Blog about leading the way: You Go First