Thoughts on an Examined Life.. Learning how to tell your story.


“How do you live an authentic life without being so transparent that your story speaks louder than God’s?”

That was a question our team at Ablaze asked last night. We talked about it for quite a while and came back with some excellent thoughts that I want to share with you this week.

I don’t begin to claim that I have all the answers, because I don’t. What’s cool is, I’m still learning like everyone else. While I do tend to share on a more personally transparent level than some people are used to, I’m also learning how to keep the private stuff – well… Private. Otherwise I run the risk of glamorizing sin, inflating myself, or tempting comparison – “Wow she did that? I must not be so bad.” Or worse “That’s all she did. Now I know there is no way God is going to forgive me.”

I don’t ever want my story – to block out His. I am His story – I’m His creation – He has taken my life and created a new thing. That’s what I want people to see. That’s what we all want people to see – His story, not ours. That is why we asked the question we did.

Have Microphone: Will Tattle

I started speaking when I was 15. A family member had gotten sober three years earlier and people wanted to hear from me. They wanted to listen to a story about growing up in alcoholism. They wanted hope – but that’s not where I started.

Learning how to tell God’s story and not mine or theirs, is not the easiest line to walk. It takes practice. It takes time. It takes learning how to live an examined life. These stages can be true for someone in a recovery program or even for someone learning how to share their Christian testimony. I’ve seen it on both sides

There’s a progression from extreme privacy and secrets to authentic transparency. The kind of transparency that reveals God more than it does our underwear takes time to learn how to develop.


Some people catch on quickly, others not so much. When we first learn to tell our stories, we can sometimes begin by being emotionally bulimic. We talk about “them” in Technicolor detail. We talk about those horrible people who hurt us, who damaged us, who victimized us. Oh yes, for years no one listened, and now we have a captive audience. People who will just know how wonderful we truly are once they understand everything “they” put us through. (Super gluing wrist to forehead for effect.) Still blind to our own shortcomings (sins) we can be very harsh and judgmental at this stage.

 I Wanna Talk About Me

After a while, as we start examining our own lives with the help and guidance of others, we begin to see our story emerge. As we begin to take the focus off of them and put it back on ourselves, we learn how to tell our story. Our part in this thing called life. I don’t suggest speaking during this stage of recovery, or growth in Christ. The reason being, we can get stuck in the drama of the past, the hurts, the self-recrimination and shame. We turn the podium into some kind of confessional, laying all of our sins at the feet of those who came to witness. We’re still being bulimic – emotionally vomiting over the audience, using that time to show the world how messed up we really think we are. Telling my story too soon – can be detrimental, if it’s not sifted through God’s love and Grace.

I’ll write more this week about things we thought of. until then, please let me know your thoughts. Have you ever listened to a speaker in one of these two stages? What were your thoughts? How did it make you feel? Please leave a comment and let me know.




3 thoughts on “Thoughts on an Examined Life.. Learning how to tell your story.

  1. Thanks Robbie! – I’m excited that those of us who met Sunday night asked that question of ourselves. Because that is really what we want – for people to see Christ more than they see us.

    James is a good thought – taming the tongue. So is using discernment. qualities that come with time. I like those thoughts – thank you.

    I’m learning to tread more gently on people with my words. Having spilled my guts for years in closed rooms, I’m more open about personal stuff than some people. I do really try to keep the private stuff private when possible. Those things, only get shared maybe in a one on one setting and only at the prompting of the Holy Spirit and when it would be benefitial to the listener.


  2. Deana, Great post! Boy have I been there. Learning discernment in what we say and not say is a life long process in front of the microphone and just hanging out with friends. Taming the tongue as James put it, is a life long battle for me. But I’m learning…little at a time. :0) Good words, Deana!


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