Book Excerpt: On superficial conversations
In “Get Personal: The Importance of Sharing Your Faith Story ,” Erin K. Casey discusses the urgent need for our stories and offers tips on how to share them. Following in an excerpt from the chapter “How Superficial Conversations Hurt Us All.”
To learn more or to download a free 30-day journal to help you discover and share your story, visit ShareYourFaithStory.net.
The world we live in is hard. From the time sin entered the world, it has been crouching at the door (Genesis 4:7).
All too often we welcome it in with open arms. Then, like Peter, we come to ourselves and weep bitterly (Matthew 26:69-75). We learn from our mistakes and from what the Holy Spirit reveals to us in Scripture. Through God’s grace, we find the Way out of temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13, John 14:6). We turn to God in prayer when we can’t take another step, and He provides unfathomable peace (Philippians 4:7).
All of those moments transform the way we live and think. And they are exactly the kinds of things we don’t share with others because “it’s too personal.” And so, we talk about our children, or sports, or the weather.
The outcome of all this small talk is social connections in churches instead of meaningful relationships that can embolden us to love and live like Jesus. When we don’t share our honest, sin-scarred stories, we present the illusion of perfection. And that hurts us (the church and the individuals that comprise it) in several ways:
• Keeping up appearances is stressful, exhausting work.
• The false belief that everyone else “has it all together” causes people to expect they’ll be judged rather than loved by their church family.
• When Christians are hurt by or are grappling with sin, they feel they have no one with whom to share their struggles.
Outside the church, talking about T-ball or whether or not it’s going to rain this weekend is fine, but when we stop there we miss out on opportunities to make an eternal difference in people’s lives. Now, please hear me: I’m not saying you should accost every person you encounter with your God stories the moment you meet them. We are meant to be the aroma of Christ both inside and outside the church — not a stench that puts people off (2 Corinthians 2:15).
However, I do believe that when we share our struggles and how God has comforted and pulled us through hard times, our relationships can be stronger and our Christianity more effective.
My challenge to you — and myself — is to get personal. Share the hard stuff, the stories that hurt to tell, as well as those that are joy-filled. God isn’t superficial; we shouldn’t be either.
ERIN K. CASEY is a wife, mom and author who recently served as a missionary in Ireland for 18 months, along with her husband, Brian, and youngest son. Her home congregation is the A&M Church of Christ in College Station, Texas. The family now lives in Florida where Erin and Brian volunteer as middle-school Bible class teachers.