When I learned that our development emphasis for July would involve looking at the theme of being “FREE to Share your Story”, it got me wondering: when did we stop experiencing freedom as it relates to this?
If we look at God’s original creation of man and woman back in Genesis, we see an emphasis at the end of the second chapter (Gen. 2:25) that both Adam and Eve felt no shame. This was God’s original design for them! By the time sin enters the world in the very next chapter though, each of them, motivated by fear, have hidden themselves from the very presence of God (Gen. 3:8).
One of my professors back in graduate school reminded us often that we are not that different from Adam and Eve. In our own ways, we all have elaborate coverings (Gen. 3:7) that we have made for ourselves and choose to hide behind them. Rather than bringing the most authentic and honest parts of ourselves into relationships, we often offer a diminished version instead - one we think others will find pleasing and acceptable. Perhaps we do this because someone told us that who we are is “too much.” Or maybe it’s because we needed the permission of an important person to live in this kind of way, but the invitation never came.
Do you know where I experience this invitation almost daily? From kids! Whether in my work as a school counselor or at home with my three children, I have the privilege of being around young people who express their emotions freely and live unashamedly when it comes to their passions. They are dynamic and creative and honest – mostly because they aren’t consumed by a need to conform to others’ expectations of them. When I see kids “living out loud” like this, it both inspires me and motivates me. These young ones truly are a breath of fresh air!
I wonder what you might need in order to feel freer to share your story? Maybe it’s having safe friends in your life that you can risk with. Maybe it’s a trusted mentor giving you permission to delve into that which brings you joy! Maybe it’s for the first time, being introspective enough to get in touch with how you’re really thinking or feeling about something. Or maybe it’s with great boldness, giving voice to a preference you have or a boundary that would be wise to set – simply because what you need matters!
To more freely share our story, we need to be more in touch with and really know our story. As we do (every chapter, every plot twist, etc.), I believe it also gives us the chance to better know the One who has helped to write the pages of our life from the very beginning…in whom we are fearfully and wonderfully made! (Psalm 139:13-14)