When I was four, I accepted Christ as my personal Savior. I grew up in church, and from Sunday School to Youth Group, we were always working on writing, memorizing, and sharing our testimony. Over the years, it changed somewhat, but there was always a pattern that went something like this: I accepted Christ at age ____; I used to struggle with ____/some significant life event; My faith really became my own at age ____; Since then, my life has been changed, etc. etc. It’s not bad or wrong at all. And the reason the template is used so often is because any Christian can fill it out fairly easily.
I was in high school during the early-to-mid 2000s, and at that time, witnessing in a very aggressive, impersonal manner was all the rage (giving out tracts, going up to people on the street, recording your testimony and giving strangers copies, etc. etc.). And it terrified me. It never felt right, and I remember being in fear all the time that I had to have my outlined testimony memorized and delivered perfectly. And if I didn’t do it enough then I was losing crowns in Heaven. It was very much fear-based all the way around. And I’m so thankful that I no longer live that way, and I think — for the most part — that churches have gotten away from that type of approach.
I am very much a fan of relational witnessing — of building a trusting relationship with someone before throwing the Gospel at them. Not only is it more effective, but it’s also just so much more rewarding and meaningful for all involved. I’ve also moved away from a scripted testimony. When I share my faith now, it’s more the short, sweet version with a real look at where I’m at at the moment. It’s about sharing our story as it’s unfolding, about how God is showing us His mercy and grace and unconditional love at that very second, about how desperately we need Him in this fallen world. And that is real and beautiful and something I am eager to share — not fearful to.
All of this to say, I want to commend the ladies behind this site for being brave enough to step outside of the script and from behind the mask to be honest about their ongoing stories. Tamara, Muriel, and Bela inspire me every single day. They invite real, honest dialogue, and those are the types of conversations that further God’s kingdom.
If you have a story about mental illness—whether personal or concerning a loved one—please consider sharing your experience by writing a guest post, doing an interview with one of us, or joining the team as a regular contributor. Even if you aren’t at a place yet where you feel comfortable disclosing your name, the church body needs your voice. Let’s shine a light on the darkness, together.