If you attend Bay Area for any amount of time, you will pick up phrases and themes that stay with you. One phrase that is sealed in my mind is “no one walks alone.” This was the theme of a sermon series a number of years ago and it was memorable to me because at the time I was not able to receive it. I had just experienced a difficult betrayal and was hurt. After a few years of counseling that helped me to understand more of my story, I now know that the hurt was deep because it reopened wounds from my past that needed dressing.

At the time, I engaged my survival strategy and determined to keep people at arm’s length to guard my heart from further hurt. But this strategy was no match for God and His plan to begin a healing process. He had called me to lead a Bible Study and put in my path a mentor who encouraged me to teach out of a posture of humility and vulnerability. I began to share snippets of my story to reveal the glory of God’s power in redeeming me. It was not easy, but it began to change me and the class.

Then the Lord prompted me to share some of the more shameful and embarrassing aspects of my life. I struggled in prayer, and like Moses asked the Lord to send him help in Aaron, so I sought from the Lord. But like the Lord responded to Moses, “I am sending you,” so He responded to me. What do you do when God is this clear? I tried to negotiate with God, reasoning that sharing the messy parts of my life would cause people to doubt my credibility and leave the class. God met my excuses with firm grace, calling me to trust Him to use my mess as His message of grace and love. So in fear and trembling I shared my story, just to wake up the next morning with what Brene Brown calls a ‘vulnerability hangover.’ I had sensed the judgment from some as I left class the night before, yet God was there assuring me that He would use it for good.
Over the next weeks and months, I began to see vulnerability increase in the class as members began to honestly share their fears and mistakes. This promoted a deeper intimacy among the class members in their groups, but also between the members and the Lord. I saw sanctification in action as people shared from their hearts how they were living out God’s Word and then were being affirmed by others in the group.

As I witnessed this blessing in vulnerability it began to prompt me to bend my elbow and allow people to get closer. I no longer felt like I was walking alone. My circle of friends grew and I boldly shared my mess. God was redeeming my story, not by taking away the consequences of my decisions, or by granting me amnesia from the pain, but by using it to invite others to seek Him in deeper intimacy. I remember thinking I now understood more fully what John meant when he wrote in 1 John 1:4, “We write this to make our joy complete.” The disciples had great joy in knowing Jesus had redeemed them, but that joy was incomplete until they shared it to expand the fellowship of believers.

Because I have experienced this myself, I long for others to know the power of sharing their personal gospel story - their struggles that prove God’s redemptive power and grace. I bring this experience with me to the Care Network and Marriage Ministry. I understand the burdens people carry and how that isolates them. I know that people come into church each week putting on their best self to cover their messes, afraid of being rejected “if people really knew.” I know this because I still wrestle with that fear.
Yet I have also learned from experience that there is great value in engaging in a community where people connect around God’s Word and learn from each other how they can live it out. Sometimes it just starts by connecting with one person. I would love to see God build the Care Network and Marriage ministry on that foundation, people connecting and sharing how God has stepped into their mess to light up dark emotions with the truth of His Word to set people free. What if sharing your mess with one other person was the key to walking more freely today? What would it look like for you to share your mess so God can transform it into a message of hope for someone else who is wrestling with a similar struggle?

If you would like to talk more about connecting with someone give me a call! I would be honored to hear your story and come alongside you to see how God may want to work through it for His glory.