By Dale Skram
Last week I attended a wonderful women’s conference devoted to the joys of giving. There were heart-warming testimonials of God’s grace through the generosity of his people, inspirational video clips by renowned speakers on the blessings of giving, and group discussions around our elegant tables about our personal experience with financial gifting.
I was motivated, encouraged, and stirred, but in a room full of nationally recognized names and abundant wealth, I also wondered why I was at this conference, as a woman of not-so-many-means. I got my answer in the midst of the “Planning Well” breakout session.
The presenter started with two questions: What has God entrusted to you? and What will you do with it?
For the first question we were offered choices under the heading of financial resources like homes, businesses and stocks & bonds in addition to other categories like talents, time and relationships. I filled in the worksheet but realized that my answers didn’t require as much ink as some of the other ladies in the room. And so as they used to say on one of my favorite game shows, I went off the board, and added my own category entitled Hard Experiences, because I have been entrusted with an abundance of difficult life experiences.
Rick Warren says, “Your greatest life messages and your most effective ministry will come out of your deepest hurts. The things that you’re most embarrassed about, most ashamed of, and most reluctant to share are the very tools God can use most powerfully to heal others.”(Purpose Driven Life)
At times I have felt embarrassment and shame about my hard experiences such as a late miscarriage, family addictions and mental illness, divorce and custody issues, emotional eating and anxiety. Not exactly a second home or a healthy investment portfolio, huh? But the important question still remains, What will I do with them? Just as in financial matters, there are three choices: save them, spend them or share them.
During times of insecurity I saved these experiences and kept them all to myself. In times of growth I spent or used these experiences to draw closer to God, to shed my old ways, and to receive his comfort and healing. But my greatest joy has come when I have given these experiences away. You and I are given our experiences to share, “So that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1: 4
When we are entrusted with a hard experience that leads us to receive God’s comfort, we have comfort to share with others. When we are entrusted with a hard experience that leads to an understanding of a particular heartbreak, we have empathy to share with others. To be able to say, “I have sat at your table and I have tasted your pain,” grants us entry into a sacred place. And when we are entrusted with a hard experience and have let God change us through it, we have hope to share with others.
Our hard experiences are not impediments to the kingdom or secrets to be hidden, but instead they are assets to be shared.
“Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you.” Acts 3:6
What experience has God entrusted to you? What will you do with it?
Dale Skram is a speaker, writer and life coach who focuses on real faith, real life and real relationships. Dale loves sweating in hot yoga, watching Downton Abbey, and walking her high-needs dog, Stella. She is the mom of four girls. Connect with her at www.DaleSkram.com.