I squirmed into my husband's Northface jacket last night to wade the Mitsubishi through enormous rain-splash puddles on base, off for the third time to the Bible study that hasn't been a Bible study yet, since each girl has taken turns telling her testimony, that story of her and God and what her life has been like on this road.
It's a scary thing, telling your story. Human beings are so terrified of what's actually deep down inside us that we'd rather do or say anything than really let one another in. But when you dare to actually do it, it's like letting yourself in out of the cold. When you unlock your heart's door in a fellowship of grace, it's you who is let in next to the warm fire and the love of fellow travelers. To receive affirmation and love you must let yourself be known, toss masks to the breeze and boldface bravado to the wind.
At this gathering we can be together as tired, scarred, but hopeful sisters on the same path. Yellow is the color of hope, said one of the girls last night after telling her story, and I listened in a blur of shy amazement that she sat there with love for Jesus trembling on her face. If I had gone through the heartbreak that she has had, would I have that same confidence, that same conviction? Yellow is the color of hope, but today is a gray day, and I am tired and missing my old home, and where is the confidence and joy in God my Friend?
I volunteered to tell my story next week. What will I say, I wonder? I already feel welcomed and warmed by these women, their love for any Air Force sister ready to push back loneliness, to offer that sunny yellow hope. Even so, the dark powers and lies that Fear likes to whisper will creep into a gray day, trying to choke hope, you're never really going to fit in, what if these girls don't really like me, what if I will never really form real friendships with them, you're never going to be a good Air Force wife, just wait, they'll see you fail, or even just the simple, deadly idea that I've left all my best friendships in Colorado and I'll never be able to keep them up at a distance, nor find new ones, and I'll end up alone. Lies. I know they are lies, but still my heart pays attention to them.
How will I tell my story? Mentally I grapple between narcissism and an intense honest desire to be known. How to know what to say and what to leave unsaid? The point is not to impress anybody, but to be real. The lies fuel the inner performer, that impostor who thrives on admiration and attention and leaves the real soul starving in the shadows. She's already planning how perfect my story is going to sound, how well I'm going to speak, how to make this all about me and not about the God who is the Author of the story.
If this story is about me, then I've missed the point entirely, and I will go on slogging through gray days, listening to lies and letting fear drive me from one performance to the next. Only in humility and gazing on the beauty of God do I find the ability to fight against the lies and believe the truth. Only in remembering that God loves me do I find the ability to silence the performer. If God's love is true then why do I need to impress anybody? If God's love is the very reason that we are all gathering together each week to hear each other's stories, then why on earth should I fear judgment? Why should I be afraid of failure? God's love is for everyone who knows they've failed, who knows they are failures. Only in the light of His love is failure redeemed and transformed.
Only in the light of God's love does a gray day turn golden with hope.