I’m not really asking anybody to share his/her personal testimony (but I won’t stop you if you feel so compelled). For those that would and those who have shared their testimony with others (yesterday, today, or any time in the future) I have a thought I would like you to consider.
I need to put this one in context, I hope you feel it.
I value my friends. I have known them for various lengths of time. I see my friendships in degrees; from nothing more than having a night out or just shooting the sh*t to asking one to hold my hand while I push out a child (that’s love). I believe that everyone you meet serves a purpose in your life. That said, in my relationships (friendship or otherwise) I believe that you should do what you say. I know that sometimes circumstances conspire against that (it happens) but I think that once I say I’m going to do something, I’m going to do everything in my power to try to do it. Nobody is more disappointed that I am when I have to tell someone “I know I said I was going to do this, but I can’t do it because (insert reason here)”.
What does this have to do with testimony? Plenty. I recently watched an awesome sermon (www.gcbcfw.org)* that touched on Mark 6-13. It talked about why Jesus chose the disciples that he did and why he gave them specific instructions for they way they would dress and how they would comport themselves; people often relate better to people they perceive to be like them.
My faith is and continues to be a work in progress (I think that is how our faith grows). I have had peaks and valleys in this journey. My friends (and family) have definitely played a role in my spiritual growth, both by what they said and what they didn’t say. I said earlier that I see my friendships degrees: just like I entrust my friends with information about me they entrust me with information about them. During our conversations, whether I am seeking or giving advice (usually playing devil’s advocate) I try to put what they say in the context of our friendship. Now, if you turned from sinner to saint (and I don’t think it really matters what your sins were) and then start looking down your nose at other sinners, I’m going to put a little less stock in your testimony. Like they say, “real recognizes real, and you looking REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAL unfamiliar!” If you imply I am doing the most (and you wrote the book on it) I’m going to give a little less credit to your perspective if you start acting holier than thou. If you tell me God won’t bless me if I do X, Y, or Z, I’m going to give you the side eye if you are still doing A, B and C.
To me, a testimony has power because it acknowledges where you came from. I think that’s true of any powerful, moving story. I can’t relate to life being all champagne wishes and caviar dreams because that’s not what my life has been. Now if you can tell me how you got there from government cheese sandwiches and Flavor Aid (yeah, I said it) then I might be able to relate to that and find inspiration to work on me. If you can ignore or rewrite your past when you are testifying, then that testimony is based on a lie. You are lying to me and, most importantly, to yourself.
I’m not suggesting you air all your dirty laundry: if you took a spin around a pole or two and you don’t want to tell anybody, don’t. Just don’t act like you can’t understand what might drive someone to do it, or the Divine grace that might pull someone away from it. That person just might be right were you were before you decided to make a change, and your testimony might be the little push he or she needs from talking about a change to working on changing.
*Pastor Douglas Brown laid it OUT! Even when I find a church home in my area I’m still going to watch his sermons!
** You’re EXTRA BOGUS if you recast the characters in your testimony. If you put your story off on another friend… WOW.