This past week I spoke at the Christian Women’s Small Business Association monthly meeting. (Read about it here!) The unofficial topic was “Speak Up”. The president of the CWSBA Guam chapter, Bernice McGill spoke on Esther. In case you’re not familiar with Esther, I’ll paraphrase her story. Esther was a Jew being raised by her older cousin, Mordecai. The king chose her to be his queen. (No one knew that Esther was a Jew.) Mordecai told Esther that the king’s advisor, Haman, was planning to have all of the Jews killed. Modecai told Esther that she had to speak up.
“Esther, don’t think that just because you live in the king’s palace you will be the only Jew to escape. If you keep quiet now, help and freedom for the Jews will come from another place. But you and your father’s family will all die. And who knows, maybe you have been chosen to be the queen for such a time as this.”
Esther 4: 12-14
In the end, Haman was killed on the gallows he had built for Mordecai and the Jews were spared. Awesome story. You should read it.
I want to focus on speaking up.
Sometimes we think that we can’t say anything because we will lose everything we have gained. But, often times, we are given the position so that we can make a greater impact. When we’ve been blessed with a platform, we should tell our stories in order to bless (and often times save) someone else.
I was kicked out of college for poor grades. I never told anyone. I lied to my family and friends to cover up the shame. Everyone thought I was “taking the semester off.” One day, I met a girl that was following in my exact footsteps. She was the first person in her family to go to college and was under a lot of pressure. She was also working full-time to support herself and her younger brother. She was oversleeping for class, missing deadlines, and very close to being kicked out of school. I had a decision to make. I could keep my struggle to myself and tell her, “Hang in there. You can do it,” or I could throw her a life jacket and try to save her.
Save her, Brandi.
I couldn’t just pat her on the back and walk away. So, I shared my secret shame. I told her the story of how the university has dismissed me. I was accepted again (by the grace of God) but went in with a one point something GPA and had to make the best grades of my life just to get a 2.0 and graduate. I told her that my counselor said it’s possible I was suffering from depression. I told her the guilt I carried that my 60-something year old grandmother was scraping up pennies and dimes to put me through school. I came clean to her about the lies I told to make everyone think I was doing well all the while I was drowning. I understood working full-time and trying to support yourself (so as not to be a burden to your family) while missing study groups and group project meetings and oversleeping for class. And, I told her that she didn’t want to be me. She could turn things around. And, I would help her in any way that I could.
She didn’t get dismissed from the university.
She brought up her grades and she graduated.
That’s what sharing your story can do.
I took a public speaking class my last semester of college. My final speech was my story. I was tired of carrying it. At some point, the lies pile up and you feel like you just can’t tell anymore. Also, I knew that my struggle was a much better display of who I was than the “I’m a slacker and I don’t care about my education” persona I was dragging around with me. That wasn’t who I was. I cared a great deal about my education but I wasn’t prepared for school financially and that caused me to make some tough (and stupid) decisions. I was also part of the “If you change your mind they’ll talk about you” club. <–You ever been there? Made a decision that made everyone think you were so “magnificent” and then hated the decision but wouldn’t dare change directions because then everyone would say, “I knew she couldn’t do it.” Thank goodness I’ve been delivered from that mental illness! I now know that I have the right to change my mind. It’s my life.
Back to the subject at hand…
We all have a story to tell about:
- what we’ve endured
- the lessons we’ve learned
- the mistakes we’ve made
- how we’re paying it forward in our family and community
- what we’re struggling with
- the dreams we’ve tucked deep down in our hearts
- what God is saying to us in this season of our lives
- the life we want to create
- our ideal job
- our contribution to the world
- how we keep things spicy in the bedroom
- special moments with our children
- the day we decided ______(fill in the blank)
- who we are
- our strength
- our weaknesses
- our determination
- our bucket list
- how we survived
- how we’re unstoppable
- the sacrifices we’ve made
- the love of our lives
- your sacred date nights with your husband
- our pride and joy
- our dream vacation
- the day someone stopped to help us
- the day we stopped to help someone else
- the most memorable Christmas
- our favorite pair of shoes
- our favorite dish
- why we’re absolutely awesome
- the day our lives changed forever
- all the ways we’ve matured
- how we learned to forgive
- the person we are striving to become
- the guilt and shame we’ve carried around for years
- our regrets
- our hopes
- our dreams
The benefit of stories:
Stories help us realize we’re not alone. Stories help us remember that we are stronger than we know. Stories help us feel connected. Stories remind us that we are blessed. Stories help us see other women the way we see ourselves. Stories help us see ourselves the way we see other women. Stories help us heal. Stories make us laugh. Stories make us reminisce. Stories prompt us to reach out to someone just to let them know we were thinking about them.
Your whole life is a story. And, Woman, Live! wants to feature you!
Woman, Live! is a personal development blog dedicated to helping women create the life of their dreams. We at Woman, Live believe the life of your dreams begins with confronting your past with love (Woman, Heal!), feeding your spirit good things (Woman, Eat!), taking care of your body (Woman, Move!), blessing others (Woman, Give!), and doing things you enjoy (Woman, Play!).
A woman’s life hangs in the balance…
Your experiences weren’t meant for you to tuck away in your journal. They were meant for you to share! Your experiences have given you wisdom that you must share with other women. If you have a blog post idea that fits the overall theme for Woman, Live! please email your blog post to Brandi (firstname.lastname@example.org).
God bless you!