Originally shared on ShellVera.com. Updated and edited for use here.
Whether you are in the church and call it a “testimony” or aren’t part of the church and call it your story, there are 7 lies I hear consistently as I speak with prospective clients and friends. These lies come from a variety of roots, such as self-doubt, self-sabotage, self-limiting beliefs, and words spoken over you from others in their lives. Which of these lies sound familiar to you?
No one wants to hear about what I’ve been through.
How do you know this? Have you started talking to people about your past and they’ve walked out mid-sentence? Have you shared your story in a public setting and not received feedback? There are many people out there whose stories are so hard to digest that they leave people speechless. However, years later the person will process what was said and they will realize what an impact it had on them to hear someone who had been through something similar. Sometimes, the person will have a relative going through something and they will be able to say, “I once heard this young woman / young man speak about struggling with this same concern.” Then they can share what they heard you share about how you triumphed, walked through, or learned to handle your struggle.
I’m still in my process. Sharing my story won’t help anyone.
Sometimes people don’t want to hear from the folks who went from homeless to millionaire and are speaking to them from their beautiful homes with their perfect family waving in the background. Sometimes what people want is to hear from someone who was homeless a month ago and is talking to them from a place of struggle to stay in their apartment because their first month’s rent is due and they are unsure how they are going to pay it. They want to hear how the person is staying calm, keeping their faith, and being proactive about getting the money needed. They want to hear from the business owner in year one who is shocked at the amount of taxes they had to pay and isn’t sure if they really want to continue doing what they love or if they should go back to corporate and focus on saving as much as possible.
There are many people who don’t want perfect. They want authentic and reachable. They want someone who understands the pain of today. They want to know that someone gets them and understands the pain they are going through and to hear someone say from not to far up the road, “You are going to be okay.”
I’m too young to have a story that people want to hear.
This one always baffled me because I think it’s wonderful when young people have been through some stuff and share their stories with folks. To hear a 21-year-old share how they’ve been drinking since age 7 and partying since 13 and then something happened that rocked their world and now they are a year clean… it gives us an understanding of the true state of the world. It also helps adults understand where we need to invest in our youth and helps folks who aren’t in touch with the world gain some perspective. Additionally, and most importantly, when you speak with youth just a little younger than you and they hear how your struggle turned out, it can help them avoid diving into the same situations and running through the same struggles.
I don’t know how to write so I can’t share my story until I can hire someone.
As I write this it is year 2019. We have speech-to-text programs, Grammarly, and all kinds of online editing programs available to us for free. Sharing your story isn’t about knowing how to write perfectly. It’s not about having a degree in English or Fine Arts. It’s about knowing who you are, what you have been through, and what you want to share with the world. As a former ghostwriter, I have turned folks away because they didn’t need me. They simply needed to sit down with a pen and paper and get their thoughts on paper. You need to do this same thing if this is your lie.
By sitting with paper (or a laptop or computer), you can write what is in your heart. Don’t worry about whether it is linear or makes sense to someone else. The point is to get it out on paper and then reread it and see what stands out. Sometimes during this process you will learn that some parts of your life are for your eyes only, some parts are for certain groups, and some parts can be consumed by the public. Books, blogs, and articles are great for the public space. Workshops and classes, seminars, and keynote speeches are best for those consumed by certain groups. The format you share your story in doesn’t have to be a written format at all – it could be through art such an sculpture, music, or spoken word poetry! Don’t get locked into a box of having to write a book. There are many other formats your story may be best told in but you won’t know until you have it written out and can evaluate it. Start writing today and then work on connecting with someone to help you determine whether you can do it on your own or need to hire someone.
I am afraid to put my story on paper. Not everyone knows what I have been through.
This one comes through more often than I would like to hear it, but I empathize because for so long I was afraid to share my story on paper or aloud. Sometimes this lie requires counseling due to PTSD or other concerns being present. Committing your story to paper or audio is very scary when you haven’t shared it previously. However, I challenge you to speak with a counselor and talk with them about the steps necessary to heal from the things you have been through and receive guidance on which parts of your story you are ready to share. You may have to wait or you may find that you are in a good place in your life to start letting folks know what you have been through. Even tough issues such as rape, sexual abuse, and affairs (which we will talk about in a moment) are stories that people need to hear about and know someone else has been through it. With a good editor or writing coach, you will be able to share the story in a way that others would like to hear it.
While this will be really hard for some to listen to and has MANY trigger alerts for you, if you are able to listen to a spoken word about sexual abuse, listen to this piece by Janette…ikz. Through her art form, she has helped many.
The people I can help don’t read books and wouldn’t have access to them even if I did publish it.
As I said earlier, don’t limit yourself to thinking your story must be told through a book, article, or blog. It could be a keynote speech, a seminar session, a workshop you offer or a presentation you do in middle and high schools throughout the country. Maybe it’s something you have to fly overseas for and present to a group of refugees or prisoners. Maybe you want to talk to people in some back woods land that doesn’t have electricity or running water. There is a way to reach everyone today, you just have to learn the audience and know how they best receive information. Then share it in that format.
As far as people not reading or having access, why couldn’t your book become the first book club book they read as you lead them in the discussion of what you have to share? Don’t limit yourself to small thinking. If you want to share your story and believe it is one people will benefit from, think outside the box on how you reach the people who need to hear it most.
My story isn’t the kind you talk about in church.
Ahhhhh, the things we don’t talk about in church. The things we tell you don’t happen until you read a scandal about the very topic and wonder what happened to that not happening or being talked about in church. Here’s my thoughts as a former youth leader: Maybe if we talked about what isn’t talked about in church we would see fewer youth growing up to experience the very things some of us adults hoped they never would. Maybe if instead of saying, “Don’t do this…” we sat with them and share the reasons behind our not wanting them to do certain things, youth and young adults would feel more free to talk about the struggles they are facing.
One night at church I felt the Lord tell me to scratch my lesson and share with the kids about some suicidal ideations I’d had that week. It was something I hadn’t experienced since childhood and really took me aback. I knew for sure I would be fired for talking about such things but long ago I learned if I feel like God tells me to talk about something, I do it. So I did. At the end of the night we had three youth talk to us about mental health struggles. I haven’t had suicidal ideations since that day. Sometimes people need you to talk about the things you don’t about so they can have the courage to share their story.
What Lies Have You Been Believing?
Which of those lies stood out to you? I hope you were able to see why they are lies. Your story matters to someone out there. Your voice and who you are matters to the people connected to you and who are out there struggling, thinking they are all alone and that no one would understand what they are going through. Your story may be the difference between them making it and them giving up. It is scary to write your story down on paper and to share with the world this piece of you that can be judged and mocked and questioned. But what a joy it is when you share that piece of yourself with the people who need to hear it and they are able to change their lives in an amazing way all because you had the courage to write your story down.
What are you waiting for?