Sharing Your Story
Pastors listen to a lot of stories, and we carry a lot of secrets. Maybe not so much secrets (as that sounds somewhat illicit), but more like stories that aren’t ours to tell. While Protestant pastors do not carry the protection of the Catholic confessional, we do keep confidences.
I can’t tell you how often someone has told me their story thinking they were the only one (at least in our small congregation) who were dealing with addiction battles, dysfunctional families of origin, broken relationships, toxic churches or money problems. Because other people’s stories are not mine to tell, I couldn’t ever say, “You think your situation was bad, you should talk to so-and-so!”
The best I could do was assure them that they were not the only one who had fought their particular battle–not even the only one in our particular group of believers–and hope they would eventually connect with the people who shared their experiences.
There is much that is, indeed, negative about social media, but one of the best things about it is that it gives people a platform to share their stories. Whether in written, photo or video form, anyone who wants to put their story out for the world (or just a select few) to see can do so.
I have no doubt that such stories have saved the lives of trans kids living in small towns, LGBTQ people whose families of origin do not accept them, young women with eating disorders, single parents who think they’re failing (when they’re actually amazing) and many, many others.
And of course, we can share the stories of our faith. When we share times our faith was tested or when we were angry at God or that year we gave up on God altogether, it signals to others that their own stories of such things are not shameful. When we share stories about answered prayers and times God sent just the right people into our lives at just the right time, it reminds people of their own stories of when they encountered and experienced God.
Tell your stories, y’all. The good and the bad and the ugly. Stories are powerful things, and you never know when your story will make all the difference in someone else’s.
Rev. Anne Russ is an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA), currently based in New York City. Doubting Believer provides tools and encouragement for the rollercoaster ride of your faith journey. Follow me on Facebook , Instagram and YouTube. You can also follow on TikTok. Get emails to keep up with all that is happening.