Turn your pain into someone else’s hope

share-your-storySometimes when I step into church I feel like I’m attending a masquerade.

A place full of perfect people hiding behind masks.

Masks that cover their insecurities, their imperfections, their heartaches, their struggles, and their pain.

People who would never dare to put that mask down and admit that life is less than perfect.

That they are lonely.

That they are hopeless.

That they are scared.

That life is nothing near to how they imagined it to be.

That they are not as tough on the inside as they seem to be on the outside.

That they fight battles behind closed doors for days, months, maybe years that they have never told anyone about.

That they don’t know how much longer they can handle going through their valley, their desert, or their storm.

Because telling anyone how they really feel would be unheard of.

It would be breaking some kind of Christian code.

One where you can never be vulnerable enough to show anyone what’s really going on inside.

One where you hide your struggles because if you are in Christ – well, why would you struggle anyway?

So people hide behind masks.

Live in their pain secretly and alone.

Hold back from sharing their stories.

In fear of being misunderstood, exposed, condemned, and judged.

And even when they have victory in their battles, when they withstand temptations, when they overcome their fears they still keep silent.

Because that would still mean being vulnerable.

Being open.

Being real.

And it’s easier to deal with our pain alone then risk the uncertainty of what could happen if we shared our story. Our tragedy. Our struggle. Our past.

Why share your abusive past, your addiction to drugs, your tragic family history, your battle with an illness?

Why open that door that will remind you of your struggle, your shame, and your pain?

Why be vulnerable and real in the middle of a masquerade?

Because your story is not for you to hide, it’s for you to share.

I read a powerful statement last week:

“Your story is the key that can unlock someone else’s prison. Share your testimony” – Pastor John Hagee

Sometimes it is the very same pain that kept you up in tears for many nights, the same addiction that kept you in chains, the same struggle that kept you battling on your knees that can change someone else’s life if you are not too afraid to share it.

I’ve been listening to Rick Warren’s podcasts recently as he shared about his wife and his recovery and heartache after their son’s suicide (who was battling mental illness) and just like he said about his own struggle and his own story: God didn’t pull you of that dark place so you could keep it to yourself. He pulled you out so you can pull others out also.

You have the power to turn  your sorrow into someone else’s hope.

To turn your pain into someone else’s victory.

To turn your past addiction into someone else’s freedom.

By simply sharing your story.

“God often uses our deepest pain as the launching pad of our greatest calling – He can turn your deepest heartache and misery into your ministry.” -Kimberly Jones Pothier

Often times it is the thing that you thought would keep you imprisoned forever that will be the very tool God will use to help set others free.

I have come across many people who have turned their pain into hope for so many people who are in that same prison they were once in.

Parents who share their story of raising special needs children or struggling with not being able to bear children.

Women who share their story of recovering from an abusive past.

Men who share their story of being set free from addiction.

People who share their story or battling fatal illnesses.

Sometimes when I see great women and men of God who run different organizations and ministries that help those in need – rehab centers, recovery centers for abused victims, orphanages, and more I wonder what it was that motivated them to begin such an organization.

To go out of their way to help those people in need.

To reach out to others in such a unique way.

And often times I discover that the people who help those in need are people that were once in those same exact shoes.

Walking through the same pain.

Living the same story.

The little girl that was abused by her dad for years when she was a child is the woman that runs the organization to help those who are recovering from abuse.

That boy that grew up dealing drugs and living from one high to another with no hope for a future and no way of escape is the man who is opening rehab centers to help those who want to find freedom from addiction.

That same father who struggles daily with a disabled or mentally ill child is the pastor that offers hope and encouragement to families going through issues from the pulpit every week.

These people chose to be different.

To go against the crowd.

To put their masks down.

And help those around them.

To turn their pain into their greatest calling.

To turn their past misery into their present ministry.

To turn their personal heartache into someone else’s hope.

And every day you can choose to do the same.

You can hide behind your mask.

Or you can share your story.

Like Sarah did about her journey with chronic fatigue.

“My illness has tattooed into me the exclusive pass code to a world where hurting people need hope. People come to me, and listen to me, because they see in me someone who has been there and survived. It is a privileged position to be in.”

Like Tami did about losing her mother.

“While trials are hard to stand through, and often painful, when we stay tenderhearted and teachable through them, the Lord can direct us to others who are dealing with similar trials. If we developed compassion, empathy, and greater faith in the Lord, we can comfort others and help them through their difficulties.”

Maybe in the end your trial, your pain, and your story isn’t really all about you.

Maybe it’s about the people that will walk into your life that need someone to encourage them that has walked through their trial. Through their suffering. Through their pain.

Maybe it’s only an open door of opportunity for you to help those that only you can help because you have been in their shoes and can understand them in a way no one else can.

Maybe your pain is really just a blessing waiting to lighten the burdens of others.

“God uses everything in our past, however painful. We gain experience through our struggles. Use your pain for someone else’s gain.” – Nicky Gumbell

Whenever I am going through trials I always remind myself that this is just yet another way I can one day help others who will one day walk through that same trial.

It will be just one more opportunity for me to use my own testimony to help unlock someone else’s prison.

It will be one more way I can use to glorify God.

Today… don’t be part of the masquerade.

Don’t hide behind your mask in shame.

Don’t be too scared to share your  struggles, your trials, and your pain.

Because you never know who needs to hear it.

Who will find freedom in Christ because of it.

Whose life will change forever.

God wants to redeem your story and use it for something greater.

Don’t keep it inside.

Be blessed! -Anna… ♥

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ”-Galatians 6:2

Your story is the key that can unlock someone else’s prison. Share your testimonyRelated Posts:

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66 thoughts on “Turn your pain into someone else’s hope

  1. This is a vulnerable post, Anna, Thank you. My wife and I have had a similar experience. There is a ‘Tribe’ out there whose members are both hidden and everywhere around us, and only when we take the vulnerable step of sharing our pain do we find its secret members, get welcomed in, and then get to share our healing and discoveries. http://sheridanvoysey.com/046-your-pain-can-get-you-inside-this-secret-tribe/

    God bless in all you do.

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    • Hi Sheridan! That’s incredible! I’m glad the Lord is using you to share His truth and love to those around you. May He continue blessing you and your wife in all that you do in His name!

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  2. HELLO ANNA…i really appreciate God for your life, you have been a blessing to me…i follow your post ,copy it and use it has a source of hope to million of women out there who are dying and suffering in silence…my facebook page is TAMAR’S VINEYARD…i will like to have a one on one chat with you..you can send me your email address via mine….thanks..ola

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  3. I like the quote ““While trials are hard to stand through, and often painful, when we stay tenderhearted and teachable…”
    Pain sees to be something adults like to bury away and move away from in life, as if its a sign of weakness. One time a child told me I shouldn’t be sad anymore..I shouldn’t be lonely.. If only we all could be so honest. I lost my husband almost 11 months ago and I try to not let that pain define me but it really has molded me into what I am now, my crazy journey of walking by faith. Even crazier since for 14 years I hid from church and christians because of the hypocrisy and fake faces.

    If we let go of what’s precious to us it seems God gives back something unexpected.

    Life teaches us more than what we find in text books. Our greatest teacher of obedience is through suffering. From great loss to our daily failures we suffer over and over. Each time we learn something new about ourselves and how we react will be a witness to others. Hide no more behind our failures but shout them out and show our own brokenness.

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    • Hi Sarah, I’m so sorry about the loss of your husband and the pain you are going through in this season of mourning. It is really easy to allow our pain and hurts to define us if we never stop thinking about them but with God’s help we can heal and recover and learn to embrace life and love people even more knowing that everyone goes through suffering as well. Sometimes it takes being heartbroken to be able to see others that are also heartbroken around you who need an encouraging word and a helping hand. And the greatest way to help is by putting our own mask down that hides our pain and being transparent about what we go through so they can do the same. Thank you for sharing your story, May God continue to use you and your brokenness to be a blessing to everyone around you!

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  4. Pingback: The Masks We Wear | A journey of faith…

  5. There’s a song by John P. Kee “Stop Hiding” that says… “The thing that you want to hide is the thing that He wants to use”. Your post made me think of it immediately (even though I haven’t heard it in so many years). I’ve played those lyrics in my head many times over the years — especially when I’m tempted to hide the struggle/pain/shame/guilt… I’m reminded that I was set free, healed, and delivered in order that another may gain their freedom. As always — great post!! (and great ammunition to finish my book) smile

    *Here’s a link should you want to hear it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47NBjsKdW-A&list=PLmT6ZFYH4NhmjYxkvk9VC880OMPfbflKe

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    • Wow. Just listened to that song and I LOVE it (goes perfectly with this post)! We really have nothing to hide with Christ. He wants to use every little painful thing we walked through for His glory. There is no shame in struggles because it is those struggles that draw us closer to Him and help us relate to and help others.

      Thank you so much for sharing the song and your thoughts Marlene. (And I haven’t forgotten about posting on your blog btw, I just have a million ideas and none of them seem to be “flowing” just yet.)

      And when that book of yours come out I will be first in line to read it!! 🙂 Take care sister!

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  6. Sadly it is a professionalised Christianity that has been created and the result is often modern day Pharaseeism. The masquerade is played out in the confines of the church “club” where people like to give themselves titles like “leader” and do not always know Gods deeper definition of leadership based in serving and laying down the self life. There are so many aspects to the masquerade that are indistinct from the pattern of the world. It is simply a grouping of people that are subject to the same desires of the world and seek the approval of each other, seek a middle class lifestyle, seek recognition etc. People create their own church to suit their own needs and once they do they protect it and defend it. In the main, in the west, these will be middle class clubs and are permeated with the prevailing culture around it. This is why Paul always warned the church about syncretism. This is the way of mankind. To build what suits us and to allow motives that are not of the Kingdom to infiltrate the camp. We can share our story with anyone and the aspects of deliverance, healing and breakthrough can encourage and release others. There may be aspects of testimonies in these days that go beyond this and challenge and provoke those within the Body to a deeper and more consecrated walk. These aspects of personal testimony will find good soil in only a few hearts. Many will reject them. Folks take the good and that which blesses them but leave the aspects of the Cross on the shelf. Some testimonies are coming which cut so deep they will almost empty the room. It will be too much for most. The few who are left in the room, this is possible material for the start of the church. What did Jesus say?….”I have more to tell you but it is more than you can take”. He is always looking for the ones that can take it on the chin, get up off the canvas after being knocked down and say “Hit me again Lord…because I am going on…I am following YOU…not my church or my associates…I will do what YOU want”. The need for approval from others becomes something to despise in our heart motivations. They cannot die our death for us or take a bullet for the sake of following Christ on our behalf. There is only one Master, if we truly are following Him.

    As I write this I am prompted to recall that King David danced with all his might before the Lord and his wife despised him yet he said that he would become even more undignified. Church people have replaced the heart of Jesus, full of love and power and passion, for a dignified “church experience”. We have to lay down our dignity to pick up our freedom. I am not sure that the church is in the right place for the level of vulnerability needed. Much more purging is yet to be done. It is so far from being the pure and spotless Bride. I consider the Holy Spirit is at work outside the confines of the manufactured church construct and is joining those of the same heart. He has His ways of achieving this. This is a deeper work. This is a divine work and an awesome thing. Something to be in awe of because it is far deeper than most churches can accomplish with all their meetings and strategies and groups. True “church” is now being marked by this joining in the Spirit. These ones will move beyond the words and will pioneer the deeper reality that their heart cries out for. Partakers intent in living out a deeper covenant. Many are labouring in vain to build a house that God is not truly building. Many are good people with sincere hearts. But it is the Lord Himself that decides the joinings. You know it when you experience it. For these ones there will be a separation from friends and family, even church family, as they are drawn deeper down the path that their heart yearns for. Others may not follow but this becomes irrelevant to the sojourner.

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  7. Powerful post! What a beautiful reminder that we need to share our struggles and triumphs with others. We never know when something we share with someone else will minister to them. We don’t go through challenging times for no reason. One of the reasons is so we can use them and the lessons we have learned from the Lord with others. Simply being able to tell others how God was with us each step can be encouraging. Be blessed today and bless someone else!

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  8. I should put your post up on my wall when I get discouraged about the book I wrote about how I found love as a Bipolar Aspie. I wish there had been such a book for me but I get very discouraged and down about it.

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    • Then maybe you are the one who is supposed to write that book! Even if you don’t have a chance to print a hard copy of your story never stop sharing it online. There might be people out there just like you who need the encouragement that you once did. Be blessed in your journey!

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  9. This post has truly touched my heart. I don’t believe in coincidences, I believe in purpose & my Lord has a purpose with everything he allows to happen. This is a confirmation of all that God has been letting me know of what I need to do. Thank you so much for sharing.

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    • Thank you Inellis. God really does have a purpose for everything He allows us to walk through (especially the not so great stuff). I’m glad this post was the confirmation that you needed. May God guide you in the right direction and give you the strength and wisdom necessary to fulfill what He calls you to do. Be blessed!

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  10. I don’t believe in coincidences so coming across to this page has something to do with the struggles my family is going through. I do believe that our personal pain and how we managed to find a solution for it might be useful for people going through similar darkness. There is this urge I feel everyday to write that article or that book that tells the story but until now I was too afraid to do so.
    Today I realized that all the darkness I’ve been in for the last 4 years might actually help other people out there, give them hope and something to look to. I don’t know why I feel so shy and fearful to share … the number of likes on this page tells me something.
    Thank you, Anna, your words touched me!

    Blessings

    Elena
    http://healthnutmumblog.wordpress.com/

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    • Thanks for your kind words Elena. I definitely think the darkness you have experienced in your life can be a source of light and hope to others who are walking in your shoes.

      Everyone is shy and afraid to share those intimate and deep parts of their life that have hurt them. We want to protect ourselves from the judgment of others but I think we don’t realize that there are less people that will be judging and more people that will be blessed by your story. I hope you write that book of yours! I think there is a reason you have that desire in your heart to share your story – because there are people out there who need to hear it!

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  11. Reblogged this on wateringcanblog and commented:
    I didn’t write this, but I couldn’t have said it better. I know some statements are hard to swallow when you’re in pain, but TRUTH is always TRUTH, even when it’s hard to hear. My pain is different from yours, and what we do with it is up to each of us. DON’T WASTE YOUR PAIN!
    I can still remember one of the first things that happened when a church my husband pastored in Texas experienced genuine revival: Masks came off. People confessed sin and relationships were restored. Testimony after testimony was shared long after it was time to go home. Believers prayed for each other and the Gospel spread. LORD, REVIVE US AGAIN!

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    • Amen Vickie! It’s up to us to choose whether we will allow God to use the pain we went through for His glory of whether we will waste it by never sharing it with others.

      The revival that took place in your church sounds amazing! We need more of that same openness every time believers meet. There is nothing more authentic and beautiful than people sharing those broken pieces of their lives so that they can encourage as well as be encouraged by others.

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    • I agree Jacqueline. I have heard quite a few times (by people new to the faith) that it can be hard for them to attend church services where everyone has “it all together” and they don’t feel like they can fit in. It’s sad because no matter how “together” we may be, we are all still broken people in need of Christ and by covering that up with our masks we only hinder others in their walk of faith.

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  12. Pingback: Why do good people suffer? | The Word Against The World

    • Amen! Once our perspective changes about the tests and trials in our lives it becomes easier to go through them knowing that it will bring God glory in the future. It really is not about us in the end! Thanks for stopping by. Be blessed!

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  13. Outstanding post and beautifully written. It encourages my heart because what you describe is what our Heavenly Father has worked in my life and how He freed me to write. Proverbs 11:25 comes to mind “He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” That’s my prayer for you!

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    • Thank you so much for that scripture. I love blogging because as I write what God has put on my heart I am the one that gets the most encouragement from Him than (I’m sure) anyone else who happens to read these posts!

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  14. God is using the pain of my past to help others. This is a great post. One caution though – I’ve had people come up to minister to me before I was saved and they said things like, “God will use what happened to you to help other people.” He is and I’m glad now, but before I knew God those words were not comforting. It made God seem sadistic or manipulative – and I heard them as God saying, Okay, let’s let Heather get raped by her father so I can use it to further my Kingdom. I know that’s not what happened and I now know who the enemy is and who caused my pain – it wasn’t God. Until I knew God though, I misinterpreted these well meaning remarks and it drove a wedge between God and me. I think as God heals us, then we see the potential that He has to turn around our pain and make what satan meant for harm into something good, but the first thing for a new believer and an unbeliever is to experience the love of the Father. Have a blessed day.

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    • I agree with you, “comforting” someone with the struggles they are facing by telling them God allows it to happen so He can later use it to help others may not be the best thing to do (especially if that person is still going through it). It can definitely put a wedge between God and that person and make them question His goodness and grace. It’s only after your heart is healed and you are no longer in that “prison” that you can be open to God using your story to help others going through the same thing.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts (and your story on your blog) Heather. I’m glad that God has turned the pain that was meant to harm you into something good for His kingdom as you share your story and encourage others through it. Be blessed!

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  15. Thank you for sharing these wonderful words of hope! I find as I move through my own challenges, I become more sensitive and responsive to others who are struggling, even though their issues might be different from mine.

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    • No problem Yvette. And I agree- sometimes going through trials in general helps us be sensitive to others regardless of what they are going through. I can see how God has softened my heart and opened my eyes to understand and love people in a way I never have before because of struggles I have faced.

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    • That’s great Elizabeth. That seems to be one of the main reasons many people begin blogs. It’s so wonderful to have brothers and sisters in Christ on here who are not afraid to share their story and bless others with their openness about their struggles and pain!

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    • I just did (on your “about me” page) and wow- I can see that God is definitely using your pain to bless others. It’s so beautiful to see that instead of wallowing in self-pity and remaining discouraged you are using your story to encourage others to be courageous in all of life’s trials. May God continue using you as His vessel to glorify Him through your life as He continues to heal your heart. You are such an inspiration to me! Keep on being a blessing!

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  16. Reblogged this on Lessons by Heart and commented:
    Anna has so eloquently written how to allow the Lord to redeem your pain. It took her post to open my eyes to the wonderful work the Lord has been doing in me since I began sharing my Lessons by Heart in March. We can choose this day whom we will serve…the Lord by ministering to others from our experiences…or our tormentors who are mere memories (unless we choose to keep them in our lives by continuing to pay homage to them). I choose life! \o/

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  17. Wow, Anna. This summed up what I’ve been learning through my blog: “Maybe in the end your trial, your pain, and your story isn’t really all about you.” This moved me to tears. Thank you for pointing out the obvious…which I’m always the last to see.

    Thank you, dear friend for showing me God’s redemption power through our ugliest experiences. Your post opened my eyes in a way that I’ve never experienced before. Thanks for the quote, which piqued my curiosity as to what you’d written. This article alone makes the hundreds of hours I’ve spent blogging absolutely worth it. It’s the best “payment” I could ever receive for that investment.

    With all my love,
    Tami
    \o/
    Praising Jesus who uses every bit of our lives for our good!

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    • Thank you Tami. Your honesty, openness, and insight in your posts is so refreshing and encouraging as you share about your past and what God has taught you in the process of healing and moving on to fulfilling the plan He has for your life.

      You are such an incredible blessing in this blogsphere and the time and energy you put into writing is never a waste because it’s touching and inspiring lives of so many people that read it! May you continue to share your beautiful heart with the world! Be blessed!

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      • Thanks for your encouragement, Anna. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if this is a worthwhile endeavor…or something I’m doing to prove “them” wrong, know what I mean?

        I’ve given up looking at stats, and decided that the Lord will be sure that those who need what I’ve written find it.

        I’m not sure where He is leading me, but I have a sense of anticipation and excitement that makes it hard to sit still. I guess the time has come to use all I’ve been taught.

        Your post had me in tears almost from the first sentence. You stated beautifully what’s been floating just beyond my ability to capture with my mind. I saved it in my “Keepers” file so I can review what you’ve said often. Thank you so much!

        \o/

        Liked by 1 person

        • I totally know what you mean (about the stats and not being certain of how “worthwhile” this whole blogging thing is) but the way I see it – God always puts something on my heart to write. To share. To encourage people with. And to keep it inside would be the worst thing I could probably do. I will write even if makes one person’s days better. Even if it helps one person see the light. Even if it convicts one person.

          It’s worth it because I’m sure many times I have been that “one person” who has read posts that have encouraged me to keep on hoping one more day. And the beautiful thing about blog posts is they remain here for as long as you keep them. Maybe that post you wrote today will bless someone in five years. You never know who will come across your site and how it will minister to their heart if not now, then later.

          I’m excited for you as you continue to faithfully share your story. I know God is already using it in greater ways than you think to inspire others.

          Thank you for being such a blessing on here Tami. I know there are many readers (just like me) who are always looking forward to reading what God has placed on your heart.

          Liked by 1 person

  18. Wow! Great post! I recently decided to share my story for this reason. It’s hard putting it out there- especially in a public forum. But this post reminded me that I’m doing the right thing? Thanks!

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    • Thanks Tre. I’m so excited that you are sharing your story on your blog! It sure isn’t easy being vulnerable but it is so worth it in the end when it blesses someone else. May God use your story and your words to encourage anyone that has faced the same things you have. I’m looking forward to reading your future posts. Be blessed!

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  19. Yes, yes, and YES! Thank you for writing and sharing this post.

    I was terrified to press the PUBLISH button on my first blog post. It was raw and messy and unnatural. Writing about my recovery from major depression, PTSD, and 20 years of addiction was very hard to do. Everything I’d hidden came rushing to the front, but thankfully, the Lord gave me the courage to do it. The enemy wants us afraid. He wants us quiet. He shush’s us with shame. But he’s weakened with every single keystroke.

    I’m inspired and healed every time I read another person’s story, and I’m blessed by those who share my ongoing journey with me.

    I love the quote, “Joy shared, multiplied. Grief shared, divided.” I think it sums up everything we need to know about doing life together.

    Thanks again!

    Like

    • Love the quote Lori! And I’m always inspired by the bravery of others who are able to share their hurt and pain to the world around them when I’m sure everything within them want to do the absolute opposite.

      I’m so happy that you chose to publish that first blog post and that you continue to do so to this day! Your blog is truly a place of hope and healing to everyone that reads your story (and I’m glad I found you on here!) This world needs more bold people like you who are willing to shine their light to the dark (and often seemingly hopeless) world around us!

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