Wednesday, August 20, 2014

It's Worth the Risk to Share Your Story

I have spent the past few days sorting though many emails and private messages on Facebook.  I had no idea my last blog post would get the response it got.  I expected judgment.  I expected people's view of me to change.  I prepared myself for that.  Or rather I should say, God prepared my heart for that. But what I wasn't prepared for was just how many people have shown me so much love and support.

Thank you.  From the depths of my heart, thank you.  You truly have no idea how much your words of love, support and encouragement have meant to me.  Your Facebook comments, texts messages and emails are tangiable words I can read over and over when satan tries to convince me I made a mistake.  And he will.  He's already tried and failed, but he will try again, I'm sure.

For years I have been encouraged by those who are the closest to me to share my story, but I've been too fearful.  Fear of being judged.  Fear of people thinking I was "crazy".  I have had so many people thank me for being "brave".  But I am not brave.  I was so full of fear when I hit publish.  I stayed away from email and Facebook for hours because I was so fearful of what people might say.  All I did was obey the Lord.  It was Him who laid it heavy on my heart to write that post.  It was Him who gave me the courage to hit publish.  I knew I had to trust the Lord, and He would somehow work it to my good and His glory.

I had no idea this is what He had in mind.

As of this morning I have received over 200 emails from people who have shared their story with me.  I have heard from people I haven't spoken to in years, and I've heard from people I have never met.  I've heard from people I see on a regular basis, and I had no idea the pain they are suffering.

As I have read through emails, I have cried.  There are so many people in this world who are suffering.  People who see no way out of their pain other than to take their own life.  In so many of those emails people have thanked me for making them feel not so alone.  I've often thought, if my story made this much of a difference, how much greater it would be if all of them could read each other stories.

You are not alone.  Pain can certainly make you feel isolated, but I promise, you are not alone.  Every story is somewhat different, yet every story is somewhat the same.  You are NOT alone.

I am overwhelmed by the number of people who have trusted me with their pain.  I get how hard it had to be for you to sit down and write me those emails.  Thank you for trusting me.  I know it wasn't easy.  Please know that I am praying for each of you.  Although I have not shared names or details of your stories, I also have friends praying for you.

When I shared my own struggle with suicidal thoughts, I had no idea God would use it to help so many others.  It's ironic.  Since April I've seriously thought I am useless to God.  I've been proven wrong.  So you see, you sharing your story with me has helped me.

Out of all the emails I have received, and I continue to get them every day, only one ... ONE ... has been negative.  It threw me for a loop when I first read it.  I think mainly because of who wrote it, but after spending a few hours in prayer I no longer allow it to carry in weight in my heart.  Mainly because I realize this person truly doesn't understand what the bible says, but also because 237 other people have been helped in some way by me sharing my heart.

I was at the Cookeville Pregnancy Clinic banquet last night, and someone whispered into my ear as she hugged me, "Your blog post has given me new hope.  I was so close to hurting myself, but now I realize there is hope."  I have to admit, I was taken back.  I've known this person for a long time, and I had no idea how much pain she was carrying around with her.

What she doesn't realize is she, and all of you who have taken a risk in sharing your story with me, have given me new hope.  For the past four months I've been struggling with wondering if God will ever use me, and if He's not using me then am I really His child.  I know that may sound crazy to some of you, but let me explain.

I don't ever remember a time in my life I didn't want Jesus to love me, but I was well into my thirties before I truly believed He did.  I've been in church my entire life, but there has always been a part of me that felt like I wasn't "good enough" for God.  I realize He didn't save me because of anything I have or haven't done.  It was His grace and mercy that saved me.  Not my performance.

I am His and He is mine.  Satan has lost the war, but he still tries to win battles.  So, he plants seeds of doubt in my mind, and sometimes those seeds grow.  I start hearing him in my ear causing me to doubt.  "Jesus doesn't really love you.  You've just convinced yourself He does because you want it so badly."

This is a lie from the pit of hell.  But it's a lie that sometimes I start to believe.

That's why I surround myself with people who will remind me of TRUTH.  It's vital we all do this.  We need to be reminded constantly what the truth of God's word says.  It's the only way we can battle those lies.

Satan has lost the war.  There is nothing he can do to snatch me out of God's hands.  He wants to keep me doubting so that I use that time and energy fretting over a lie instead of using it to show others the truth about God.

Someone asked me last night, "Was it worth the risk?"

Yes, it was so worth the risk.

I've had one negative email, and 237 emails from people who have been helped (plus Facebook comments, text messages and phone calls).  Even if it had been 237 negative emails, and one person had been helped, it would have been worth it.  I admit, it would have been harder, but it still would have been worth it.

I'm not exactly sure what God has planned next, but He's already opened a door I am about to walk through.  He has been trying for a long time to show me this opportunity, and honestly, I have been running from it.  I don't know what will happen as I walk through that door, but I am certain God will use it for my good and His glory.

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