I thought I was an open book. Because I spend so much time in my own head, analyzing and over-thinking pretty much everything, I thought that my stories were common knowledge to those around me. I’m learning that this isn’t so.
I’d like to give you a small glimpse at my rap sheet.
- I grew up in church.
- My husband is the only man I’ve ever kissed.
- We got married when I was 21.
- My mom died when I was 29.
- I’ve only lived in two states and have never been farther out of the country than Tijuana, Mexico.
- I have 1 older sister.
- I love food, coffee, and books.
- I like to go to bed early and wake up early.
- I have 3 kids. One of them has type 1 diabetes.
- I struggle daily with guilt.
Maybe you can relate to some of that. Maybe you can’t relate to any of that. But all of those things have formed and shaped me in some way. They are part of me. They are part of my story. I’m still learning how to tell my story. I’m still getting used to the idea that it’s not selfish to want to talk sometimes. I’ve been telling myself for years that my job is to listen. Being a good listener equals being a good friend, mother, sister, wife, Christian. I’m learning that sometimes it can be more selfish to “just listen.”
If I only listen, I never give you the chance to hear and learn from my stories. I never have to let my guard down. I never have to present myself in any other way but perfectly put-together, perfectly edited, and with perfectly controlled vulnerability. I never have to admit that I don’t have everything figured out, and that my story is still in process and it’s messy and confusing. Essentially, I remain anonymous. If I never talk, I become simply a consumer in our community.
Now, I do want to listen. You have stories and experiences that I can’t relate to. And the beauty of community (as I’m still learning) is that I can learn about those experiences through you. I don’t know what it’s like to be 26, single, and working 60 hours a week. I don’t know what it’s like to spend a month in France. I don’t know what it’s like to take a road trip across the U.S. I don’t know what it’s like to go through a divorce. I don’t know what it’s like to be in a long-distance relationship. I don’t know what it’s like to struggle with infertility.
I have used every excuse in the book to keep myself from thinking I needed community. It’s too hard with young kids. Our life is too busy already, we don’t need to commit to anything else. Going to church on Sundays is enough, I don’t need a small group, too. But something special happens in smaller groups. You get past the dreaded Sunday small talk (I’m not the only one who hates Sunday small talk, right?) and you get to hear what’s really happening in each other’s lives. You get a front row seat to someone else’s story of rescue.
When we tell our stories of rescue, Doug always reminds us not to just talk about our salvation stories, though those are (obviously) incredibly important. What we need to talk about is how Jesus is rescuing us even now. How is Jesus working in your heart, life, circumstances, family, work, loneliness, anger, sickness, sadness? What is he teaching you about your weakness and his strength? How is the gospel at work in your life? This is what people need to hear. They need to hear it from you! From me! This is what makes Jesus more believable and beautiful.
Keely Steger lives in Norman, where she stays at home with Noah, Sam, and Austen. She also serves City Pres as Administrative Assistant. In the free time that she doesn’t have, she enjoys reading, cooking, reading about cooking, blogging about cooking, and meeting friends for coffee.