Trial ---> triumph (the power of a story)
Updated: Sep 14
Our stories have the power to inspire, encourage and change the hearts, minds and attitude of others we encounter. I remember vividly when the power of my story hit home to me.
It was three weeks after the tragic passing of my mom, and I was back at Liberty University for my spring semester. More specifically, it was a Thursday afternoon in April, and I had one more class for the day. The days shortly after her passing were difficult, as one could imagine. I struggled to go through the motions of the day and even normal activities seemed so hard to complete – like going to class. Yet, here I was – Going to class. As I neared the classroom, I overheard a conversation between a couple of girls. I noticed one of them was visibly upset, so I listened closer and heard her mention that her mom had passed away the day before. I thought about stopping and saying something but decided against it and went into class. I figured nothing I would say could help or encourage her. I couldn’t even encourage myself half the time. As class ended though, I felt a strong urge to say something to her. Exactly what? I had no idea. Nonetheless, I walked up to her and shared that I overheard her conversation and that I had recently lost my mom as well. I awkwardly proceeded to share my story with her with some encouragement mixed in. Though my words were far from eloquent, she found a sliver of hope that everything was going be all right. She left that conversation with more faith than she entered it with. This happened not due to the “power” of my speech, but because of the power of our shared experience.
This is the reason why I share my story and have a desire to hear and share other’s story: Because they are powerful. An individual’s story has more power than any alliteration or fancy statement. Stronger than any communicator or public speaker’s affirmation that “Everything’s going to be okay.” Or even that “God is in control.” There’s nothing that screams “Hope” more than a person’s testimony about hitting rock bottom and bouncing back up. Everyone has a story that is waiting to be used to inspire another person who resonates with it. Whether it’s a narrative of losing a loved one, a job, going through a breakup or battling deep depression. Everyone has a story. The question is: Are they leveraging it? Are they taking advantage of its full potential? So many people walk around with amazing stories of triumph, only to keep these stories to themselves. Their conversations remain so surface level that those around them never get the opportunity to be inspired or encouraged as a result of hearing the experiences that have shaped them.
The intimidation factor of sharing one’s story is understandable. Being vulnerable with another person about hardships we’ve faced can be extremely difficult. But, one person’s vulnerability can mean the beginning of healing for another. Through the trials of my life, I have been on both sides of the equation. One side where I was able to provide encouragement like in the story above, but more often I was on the side of the equation where people picked me up. Individuals who battled loss told me confidently and boldly that it was going to be hard, but that I was going to make it. I needed those men and women, and people need you. Your trial was not handed to you for nothing, instead it was given to you to leverage and inspire others with it. You are not called to sulk in your trial, but to use it as your testimony for others to benefit