Do you have a story someone needs to hear? Let’s think about that today.
Several years after the loss of our second child, I found an old Bible tucked in a cedar chest in my mom’s attic. As I flipped through the pages, I stumbled upon a crude chart of our family tree written in my mom’s flourishing hand.
Listed were the names, dates of birth, and dates of death for my maternal and paternal great-grandparents and grandparents. Next, came my parents, my brother, Stewart, then me, and then my sister, Gloria Gale. My mind stopped for a beat. My sister, Gloria Gale? Who’s that?! I never knew I had a sister named Gloria Gale.
But there it was. A date of birth and a date of death. Digging through the old chest, I found pictures of a tiny casket, a child-sized grave, and an engraved tombstone.
I ran downstairs holding the opened Bible in my hand, walked over to my mom, pointed at the entry, and said, “What’s this about? Who is Gloria Gale?”
“I had a baby girl when you were two years old,” she said. “I guess you were too little to remember it. She was premature. She only lived a day.”
“Why have you never told me I had a sister?”
“That was a long time ago,” she said. “I don’t really want to talk about it.”
I was dumbstruck. Why didn’t she want to talk about? Why didn’t she tell me? More importantly, why didn’t she share her painful story with me when I went through a similar experience of my own? The story had lain dormant, tucked between my dad’s high school letter jacket and a piece of old cross-stitch, when it could have been a story that gave me hope at a time when I needed to know life would go on.
One of the saddest verses in the Bible is Judges 2:10: “After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel.”
Back in the book of Exodus, God freed the Israelites from Egyptian slavery and sent them on their way to the promised land. But as we know, just because we’ve been set free doesn’t mean that we will walk free. The first generation of slaves set free did not enter the promised land because of their ingratitude, unbelief, and disobedience. So, God waited for a second generation to rise up—a generation who would believe that God is who he says he is and will do what he says he will do.
Forty years after they first stepped foot in the wilderness, Joshua and Caleb led the people into Jericho to take possession of the land God had already given them. But first, the Israelites had to cross the Jordan River, which was at flood stage, the worst possible time to make such a trek. Nevertheless, the people decided to obey God’s command rather than acquiesce to human reason. As soon as the priests leading the people put their feet in the water, the flow stopped twenty miles upstream and stood up in a heap. After the whole nation had crossed the river, God instructed Joshua to have twelve men gather twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan. Big stones. Heavy stones. Once they were on the other side of the river, the stones became a monument to help the people remember what God had done. Joshua said to the people:
“In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:6-7)
The Israelites obeyed to a point. Yes, they gathered the rocks. Yes, they set up a memorial. But, no, they did not tell their story. It stopped with that generation. The Bible tells us, “After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10).
Why didn’t the next generation know the story? Because their parents didn’t tell them. They didn’t pass on the stories of how God brought them out of Egypt, through the Jordan, and into the promised land. Their stories died with them. The next generation had no idea.
Oh, friend, your story matters. It matters to the people God brings across your path, and to the generations that follow. Click & Tweet! Don’t hide your story, no matter how sordid it may be. Nothing is ever wasted as long as we don’t keep it to ourselves. People need to know how God brought you through your own personal Jordan River and onto the other side. Your story may be just the thing God uses to help someone get through theirs.
Lord, thank You for getting me through the tough seasons of my life. I pray that You will show me who needs to hear my story and give me the courage to tell it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
What are some of the “rocks” in your life…symbols of how God got you through a difficult situation? You might want to consider gathering a few rocks as symbols to remind you of the victories and then be ready to share when someone asks you what those rocks mean.
What if your worst chapters could become your greatest victories? I know that they can!
Many of us feel broken. Our mistakes, the pain others have caused us, and circumstances outside our control taunt us every day, though we long to turn a new page. My new book, When You Don’t Like Your Story, challenges us to ask: What if God doesn’t want us to rip out our difficult stories but repurpose them for good?
What has been done to you and what has been done through you does not disqualify you from God’s best for your life. It qualifies you for an even greater purpose than you would have ever known without it. In fact, the worst parts of your story might just be what God uses the most. So sink deep into God’s life-changing truths. The next chapter is just beginning. Includes an in-depth Bible study for individuals and groups.
© 2021 by Sharon Jaynes. All rights reserved.
Thank you for the encouraging words. I’m trying to write my story and its very difficult. I will be looking to read your new book. thank you again
I LOVE this encouragement ❣️ May God grant us the boldness to dare to be transparent ❤️
I just want to Thank you for all the inspiration you offer to others. I read and understand I am not alone even when it feels that way.
I had a similar experience. My mother had a baby girl that was premature and only lived one day. She was born 2 years before me and they named me after her, so we had the same name, but my mother never talked about it. I found a obituary from the newspaper that she had saved with my same name. When I lost my baby girl, after giving birth to two boys, my mother never brought up her own loss. I think it was just how things were back then. People didn’t talk about their losses or their feelings.
This is why I have always made sure my daughter’s know about the baby sister they never knew! My oldest (born 18 months later) was given the first baby’s name as her middle name and, as a young child, loved to tell strangers the story behind her middle name!
Thank you so much Sharon for this impacting and encouraging story. What you are sharing is so important and has been a blessing to me today. Over many years the Lord does connect me to people in need of hearing my story at just the right time – he knows the need and provides the opportunity, but a wider group of people – a much wider audience – can only be accessed as stories are shared and sent out into the wider world. Maybe it’s not that our own stories are deliberately hidden but that they lack opportunity to be heard. I write in poetic and story-telling style and I share wherever and whenever I can but my circle of influence is limited. Nevertheless I remain faithful and share my story and words of encouragement at every opportunity – no matter how limited. Bless you in all you do for the Lord and for so many others.
Sharon, I love this! I will share my heartbreaking experience without reluctance from now on. Thank you!
Our second little boy was stillborn. My mom, whose first marriage was unhappy and abusive, came to stay with me when I got out of the hospital after my c-section. It was while she was with me then that I found out she had lost a baby boy during that first marriage. She never shared much about her life during that marriage, but knowing that she had lost a little boy explained why she only ever wanted girls. She was the only one who wanted that little boy, and the memory was a painful one. I was so glad she finally opened her heart to me!
Sharon. I am the ideal storyteller who is yet to tell the world her story. I lost 2 kids within 5months of each other. My first daughter aged 5 just told me; “mum , I can’t breathe” and died few minutes later in the car before we arrived at the hospital. Few months later my 1year old son followed suit. All happened in the same year after I had tied my tubes. It was a trial of faith for me , I had to settle in my heart why God brought me to this world; was it to serve Him or bear children. Today , i am stronger in my faith and my story strengthens those around me and even caused others to turn to the Lord. I can’t wait for your book to come out. God bless you.
Thank you for sharing your story. I am in the process of editing a book I’ve written in which I share my story and testify of God’s goodness. It was encouraging to read this article as I work on that project.
Sharon, Your message today has spoken deeply to me . God has given me so many experiences to share with others and I thank Him for it. After a fairytale life for the first 10 years of marriage we experienced loss of our farm, bankruptcy, loss of our home, loss of a 1 week old grandson, and death of our 24 yr old son. Praise God that he had already called my husband and I to Him. I can’t imagine living thru this without Him. I have shared my story, but now praying that I take the opportunity to share more often. God can make something beautiful of your life if you just listen and follow!
My story is so painful I am still trying to heal from the pain, yet I know it will help many women. In the past I had not succeeded even passing writing portion of cbest test for teaching credentials, yet I feel the strong nodge that I have to write it. I will learn how. I love reading good books, yet I have visual limitations now and very selective what I will read. Sharon, your book has been on my attention. Looking forward to read this book.
Every story is not worth sharing. Some things are better left unsaid. If a story does not bring about healing, if it does not lift a bowed head, maybe it’s better left untold. Everyone’s journey is personal. Some are able to grow from their pain into stronger Christians and purposeful witnesses. Others on the other hand may have difficulty accepting God’s will and may have allowed their experience to make them bitter, questioning God and His sovereignty. Those stories add kindling to a fire that is already threatening to consume–so maybe that experience is better left untold until they meet the person to strengthen them. Maybe your story will help your mother with closure. Maybe your story will help her understand how to worship God in the valleys of life. There is a time and season for every story. Maybe tomorrow will be her season to release past hurt based upon how God brought you through. Even though there will dry seasons in my family’s acknowledgment of God, I have remained faithful declaring His Word. I use my witness to reach those who have knowledge of Him but not a relationship with Him. Maybe you are the ordained story teller in your family.
John 1:16 For of His fullness we have all received grace upon grace.
Psalm 139: 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Philippians 1:6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
Uplifting . Though I wouldn’t expect everyone to tell everyone about such things . My mother had miscarriage, actually still born at 6 months and abortions …both my father and mother would mention such things . So did I want to know ??? _ no.
My pains to tell make chapters to a book. It’s all I can tell for now. But I need a massive God intervention to break it out. For years I’ve tried yet I’m not giving up
Thank you so much for this, another reason for me to continue writing my story. I had to learn to be open in all things. As you have stated no matter how ugly it was, it needs to be told to help someone else.
Sexual abuse will always be a hard story to tell.
It is a hard story to tell, but about 25% of women in the church alone are secretly suffering from past abuse.
Thank you for this inspiring read. I am praying for God to show me how to get through the Jordan River in my life. His Word comforts me daily and gives me strength.
I needed this tonight. Thank you.
Thank you for this. Pain and fatigue wracked my body for almost 15 years. I had fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. The doctor wanted me to resign from my job, but I wouldn’t. He then put me on a mandatory reduced work schedule. I grew worse and finally decided to resign to bed. I thought God wanted me to honor Him through my pain and prayer.
“There’s that healing service tonight. Want to go?”
“Sure,” my husband said. No talk of it that day.
“Anyone who has pain, please come down for prayer.”
Keith grabbed my arm and marched me down to the front. God healed me in that moment on November 21, 2010. Confirmed a miracle by my doctor.
On New Year’s Day, I ran on the beach and hoisted a heavy kite into the air. Five months later, I climbed half-way up the Great Wall of China (the bus was leaving).
A kite hangs from my bathroom window. When I take a shower, I am reminded of God’s healing touch and His love.
“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,” (Psalm 103:2-3)
THANK YOU EXACTLY WHAT I needed to hear. Great encouragement
God bless you & your family
Thank you for this encourages me. I will share my own story now without fear. God has been so good to me. I am grateful to Him. Gloria. Nigeria.
Thank you Sharon for your words of encouragement, I was sexually molested as a little girl and God has been so faithful to me, he’s so gentle with us, he brought me through deep depression, I was hospitalised at the time over twenty years ago, the old enemy has been trying to hurt our family, he’s triggered my emotions again through my depression, I’m 55 and have been praying for my unsaved husband for over thirty years, our four adult children all gave their lives to Jesus when they were young but I’m not sure where they stand spiritually right now, I’m very overwhelmed with life at the moment but I know God is Sovereign and he never leaves or forsakes us, I’m on a lot of medication at the moment, would appreciate prayer greatly, and I pray for Gods love, peace and protection to cover everyone who’s commented, God Bless you mightily Sharon for the love and encouragement you pour out on others, much love and prayers,
Praying for all of you who commented before me! God has used my past, abusive marriage, to bear witness to His goodness and provision. He has used my infertility and hysterectomy pathology to demonstrate how He knows best, even when He says No and we don’t understand.
May God be praised for all He has done for us!
What I have come to know is that it’s not my story at all. It is God’s story of how His grace and mercy pursued me in such an amazing way. He redeemed my life from the pit, as scripture says. When we tell our stories, God gets the glory and the pain we feel becomes less.
As someone who has regularly told God I didn’t like the story my life that he allowed, I’m looking forward to your book. What has happened to me in the past few years I’d never wish on anyone, yet in another’s eyes, they are envious of how God has continuously shown up in miraculous ways, intervening on my behalf. They are encouraged when I share how God is working in a hopeless situation, taking what was wrong and making it right. My “hard story” is still pretty fresh and wounds are raw, but I know someday I will be thankful, because God has never been so real to me and my kids have witnessed it all. I got a phone call from one of my kids’ teachers last year, wanting me to come see him. I thought she was in trouble, but was I completely wrong. For an assignment she had to write what she thought of the big bang theory, proving how it was true. She wrote how true her God was (making the big bang theory inaccurate), citing miracle after miracle God had performed for our family. He was amazed at all she had written about God answering the prayers we’d pray. In his 30+ years of teaching only a handful of students have ever left a mark on him, and she was one. Had I not gone through total devastation, God would not have been able to show off and make His roots start to grow in my children’s hearts. My kids tell me often that I need to write a book, to share this story of mine that I never wanted. Thanks for sharing yours and encouraging others to share as well.
I lost my first born when I was about 2 months pregnant. I never really got to grieve over the loss. My husband at the time acted like he was overjoyed with the loss of the baby. I then got pregnant with my son. I eventually had another child 10 1/2 years later. Both children do not know about their sibling. We are not in a good place as of right now. I pray for them and ask God to save them from the lake of fire. There is more to the story, and with that I will close this. It is a long, painful story that I still haven’t healed from or dealt with in the past 21 years. Keep me in your prayers.
I am so fortunate that my experience is different. My mom thinks she may have had a very early in miscarriage even before she knew she Had a pregnancy test done. I always felt that I should have had a sister. She would have been my baby sister.
When my mom has had any readings done whether it’s taro cards or general readings with a spirit medium they have always told her she had 3 children. She’s had about 5 different people tell her this over the course of her lifetime. They have always told me that I had to siblings and again I’ve had ratings done with various spirit mediums.
I am so glad that my mom was able to talk about it and was able to talk about any of the things happening around her pregnancies.
For 30 yrs I was married to a man that was an abusive narrsacistic . I lied for him and idealized him. When I got out I said “I would never lie and cover for anyone” it is a very dark place to be. You have to figure out how to get out of that darkness and to move on. I found sharing my story with whoever was around helped me. Maybe I was too transparent but that was 18 yrs ago and I don’t talk about that much.
Sharon, I need help! My story story 52 years ago has such a strong hold of me, at which times I can’t breath. If I talk of what happened and try to get any closure, I will be cut off from my family. I try to find comfort in God knowing my story, and how it ended, but it’s hard to love myself. I’m numb to my feelings, thus numb to receiving love. I’m a believer, with my walk with the Lord intervened by many levels of departures and returns to God. I want to tell my story, and would only tell my story if it edifies God. What book have you authored that would help me move from being stuck in the past?