May 6, 2013

What Can Happen When You Share Your Story

Sharing your story is healing for you. And, it can serve as the catalyst for other people’s healing. 

As I travel and speak, I share my story even more openly now than I did before. It was a challenge for me to do that at first, because I feared the response. I will say, it has been overwhelmingly amazing. There have been times people ask me a question that is unsettling or even make a cruel comment. But the positive feedback including changed lives makes it all worth it.

I know some may wonder what I would consider unsettling or cruel. Well, to give you an example, I recently shared my story as a message illustration. Afterwards, a woman approached me, wagging her finger at me as she sternly said, “All I have to say in response to your sermon is that you better be glad Plan B didn’t exist when you were conceived, or you’d be dead!” And with that, she spun on her heel and walked away. That was it. No, “thanks for coming to our church,” or “good message…” Just telling me that she somehow knows what my mother, who she does not know, would have done if she were pregnant in 2013 versus 1965. But whatever.  

 I am learning to smile and nod and ignore these kind of comments while taking the encouraging ones to heart.

Friday morning, I shared my story with the women of Idaho. I don’t know that there were many dry eyes in the place. At the close of the message many responded at the altar. God’s presence came and did a work that I could never do. Sharing my story is one thing…God doing something in people’s lives is quite another. I am so thankful for what He does when we just open up and make ourselves available.

Friday evening as I was walking into the building to get ready to speak at the next session, a woman stopped me and asked if she could have a moment with me. Taking my hand, she said, “Thank you, for helping me to break free.” I asked how I had helped. Angie* went on to tell me that by me sharing my story, she felt it was safe to share hers. She explained that in the morning session she couldn’t stop weeping. My story unlocked something inside of her and the tears flowed and she couldn’t contain them. Nor did she even try to anymore.  

Going to lunch after the morning session, she was still crying. The ladies of her church, who she has known for many years, were all gathered around the table. They said, “Angie, can we ask what is happening? Why are you crying? Do you want to share with us?”’

She said, “Yes, I want to share. I finally feel safe to. No one knows what I am about to tell you, except for my husband. When I was sixteen years old , I relinquished a baby girl for adoption. I have never gotten beyond this loss. I have cried daily. As you all know, my husband and I have not been able to have any more children. It is just the two of us, and we so long to find my daughter, but I wouldn’t even know how to begin, not to mention, I have never felt safe telling anyone this about me. But with what the speaker said this morning, and what God was doing in all of us there, I somehow feel I can do this now. I want all of you to know. I am tired of living a secret life. I need to share this weight I have been carrying.”

The ladies of Angie’s church, including her pastor’s wife, surrounded her with love and compassion. They encouraged her that they would be there with her on her journey – however the path leads her. She felt like a ton of bricks was lifted off of her shoulders, as she walked out of the restaurant after lunch.

She was eager to find me before service that night. “Deanna…I have no idea where to begin. Are there resources that help people like me? Is there a place where mothers like me go for help? Do you know of anyone who can help me in finding my daughter also sharing my feelings that I have on a day-to-day basis?”

“Well…yes, it just so happens, I do…” I smiled. I proceeded to let her in on the world of Search Angels, and groups for mothers who have experienced the loss of their children to adoption.   

“Deanna, can I just tell you how amazing it feels that I don’t have a secret anymore?” she said. “It is so freeing to have my church family know about this...”

God did amazing things of all varieties at the conference this weekend, but due to sharing my story , many people on all sides of adoption approached me for personal ministry. There are too many to recall in one blog post, but to quickly share two more...

There was Cherice* who is an adopted young lady, separated from her two original sisters. She misses them terribly and wishes they could all grow up together. Weeping in my arms at the altar she let out the pain of the loss of being without her siblings on a daily basis. Prior to this weekend, she said she felt she had nowhere safe to let the pain out.  "No one understands what this is like..." she says.

Then there was Sharla* who is an adoptive Mom of two little girls. They haven’t adjusted. At all. And she’s scared. And doesn’t know what to do. And hasn’t known where to go, or who to tell. “Is it that I’m not a good Mom?” she wonders. I informed her that she could be “Super Mom” but that wouldn’t take the pain of relinquishment away. She asks me how she can lessen the pain for the girls. "What can make this better?" she wants to know. She is desperate. 

I let Sharla know about some resources but the main thing I tell her is, “Live with no secrets.”

She’s never heard this advice before. And, she’s scared of being open about everything, because the truth of the girls’ background is going to be “so hard for them to take,” she says.

“Not as hard as it is for them to live with secrets or lies,” I say.

She weeps.
And weeps some more.

This is so hard to hear,” she says.

“I know,” I say.

And I hold her in my arms as we pray.

*All names changed