It’s not surprising that the 2004 movie “Mean Girls” has an almost cult-like following so many years later. It mirrors the experiences of high school girls in such painfully accurate ways. The gossip, the competition, the striving for attention — it’s the stuff of high school nightmares. Unfortunately, the world outside of high school is still full of mean girls (and mean boys), untrustworthy people who have their own best interests at heart. These are people who will exploit your story for their own gain. Even King David encountered people like this in his life. He prayed,
“Give ear to my prayer, O God, and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy! Attend to me, and answer me; I am restless in my complaint and I moan, because of the noise of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked. For they drop trouble upon me, and in anger they bear a grudge against me. My heart is in anguish within me.” (Psalm 55:1–4)
As we begin to share our stories, we need to cultivate wisdom and discernment. We need God to show us who is safe and who can be trusted with the delicate and confidential details of our testimonies. The great news is that God is in the business of providing wisdom for his people! The apostle James exhorts his readers like this: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5). We can be confident that God will let us know who we should share and who we should wait to share with.
On the other hand, as we share our stories, taking risks will help us to grow our faith. The early disciples took the gospel to places they were afraid to go, all out of obedience to God. In his letter to the church at Corinth, Paul reminds them that he came to the church there “in weakness and in fear and with much trembling” (1 Corinthians 2:3). Paul was so afraid to continue speaking the gospel in Corinth that God came to him in a vision one night and encouraged him with this message: “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people” (Acts 18:9–10). In spite of great fear, Paul was obedient to God’s calling to continue speaking truth, to continue pressing into his ministry to the Gentiles. And God’s protection surrounded and protected him.
We are called to be wise risk-takers. And sometimes that is hard to do. As a first step, pray for the Lord to make His plan for you clear and understandable. Pray for Him to give you the discernment to protect yourself from unsafe people. Pray also for Him to give you a willingness to stretch yourself into the unknown so you can share your story with someone who needs to hear it. In all of this, your faith will grow and your story will become even richer and more beautiful.