Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Storytelling 101


[First draft written May 28]

I thought sharing your testimony was only something low churches did and that it followed the standard turn-or-burn formula: sinned lots, found Jesus, now life is awesome. I didn’t grow up around a testifying culture, but I never liked it the few times I was exposed to it. I didn’t expect that find testimonies in the Catholic Church, much less to be asked to give mine. 

Part of Totus Tuus included giving a talk to the teen group about how a time when you were drawn closer to Christ. I don’t mind talking in front of people if I am regurgitating info, but I don’t normally talk about emotions; that’s what the delightful distance of the written word is for. My family shares sentiment in letter form. I talk through a blog. I take time to choose my words wisely. I temper emotions, Vulcan-like at times. So giving a testimony, talking about my relationship with Christ, is not within my comfort zone. 

But I’ve realized the importance of having a testimony, of being able to vocalize the depth and beauty of God in a concise way. It’s part of a Christian’s duty to spread the good news. It’s not about promising people the exact same result (“believe in God and be as happy as me!”), but about sharing my bit of the cosmic story, adding a tiny piece to the larger puzzle of what Truth is and who God is. Being accountable is part of being Christian. I have to be able to define my relationship with God (even if it’s a work in progress) and share his love with others. 

I’ve encountered this problem of sharing my story before. I still don’t have my conversion story boiled down into a quick testimony form. Relationships are dynamic and deeply personal; a relationship with the eternal creator of the universe multiples that. How do I condense every little experience, every step forward, into a relatable narrative? How can any single encounter tell the story without the context of all the other encounters? With God, every tiny detail seems cosmically important. Anything short and sweet just feels hollow and cliché.

But I should try anyway. I should push through clunky, clichéd lines to find the ones that resonate. I should find the words. I should reach out and open up. I should make myself vulnerable for the glory of God.

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