Courage,  Faith,  Honesty,  Humility,  Judging

Boring Testimonies: No Drama Necessary

My second boyfriend acted like a goody-two-shoes, but mostly wasn’t.

My third boyfriend had a long scar on his face. I never asked why.

My fifth boyfriend lived in a group home and wasn’t that into… talking. 

My sixth got kicked out of school, but I don’t remember why.

My husband tells stories of his past that make you wonder how and why he’s still alive. 

He sold pot in middle school, went to church hungover, and almost blew up his high school gym, but eventually, he grew up and started a nonprofit ministry.

He also got stuck on the back of a motorcycle while the driver flew through the orange groves of SoCal, evading cops. But that’s a different story. 

Apparently, I had an affinity for dudes who didn’t dabble in the straight and narrow. I did not specifically seek them out, but their lives certainly proved more exciting than my life of piano lessons, youth group and herbal tea.

Photo by Josh Carter on Unsplash

They were in the thick of developing rad testimonies with the potential to make innocent church girls jealous. 

My head inadvertently shakes when I think about how boring my old life looks compared to my friends who went through the wringer and came out on the other side with gnarly scars.

Friends who got pregnant in high school, friends who had abortions, a friend who spent eleven years chained to street drugs, friends whose husbands left, friends whose kids died, a friend who worked at a gentleman’s club, friends who were sexually abused as kids. 

The ones who found Jesus, turned their lives around, and emerged from the dark corners with new hope? They made youth groups lean forward and listen. They made naive camp girls like me want a better story. 

Testimony (noun):  a public recounting of a religious conversion or experience. 

I am not religious and I never had a big conversion. Maybe that’s why my narrative sounds so pathetically boring in my ears. 


Comparing Nothing to Nobody

The list of things that never happened to me could fill at least nine inches of a screen.

  • I’ve never lost a parent. Well, once, but he turned up. 
  • I’ve never had surgery. The butterfly bandage over my sliced eyelid felt surgical, but no. 
  • I’ve never had to survive a fire or flood. The Santa Cruz earthquake of ’89 rocked my world, but our losses only totaled a couple jars of jam. 
  • I’ve never been through cancer. Well, I had carcinoma on my face, but after burning the heck out of it, the doc assured me it was gone. We’ll see.
  • I’ve never been rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. Our ambulance dude took his own sweet time, hitting every bump in the road while my strapped head gently bounced on the crude board.
  • I’ve never done drugs. Unless you mean Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Joe Joe’s. Those things are laced. 
  • My childhood consisted of mostly comfort and ease. I’m not embarrassed about that, but it continued into adulthood too. No tragedies, no surprise turmoil, no dramatic twists.  

Except for that one time I moved into a 5th-wheel in a third-world country eight months pregnant. I guess that was weird.  

  • My family never fell apart at the seams. I mean, they moved once, but I found them. 
  • I’ve never stood up at a Christian rally, raised my shaky hand or knelt at an altar to “turn from my old ways and start a new life with Jesus.”

See? Nada. I always thought it would be so much more exciting to stand in front of a group of people, admit my devious ways and poor decisions, and then tell of a merciful God who scraped me off the sidewalk. 

“With beer in my hair and vomit on my shoes, I adjusted my tattered skirt and lifted my head. My life screeched to a halt when I looked in His eyes. No shame or judgment; just an invitation to turn around and follow Him. And I haven’t been the same since.”

That’s my pitiful stab at writing fiction, y’all. I legit have no conversion story—just 23 million Sunday school classes in mini chairs with dry crackers, felt boards and old ladies droning on about being fishermen. Qué? 

Felt boards. So cheesy and brilliant at the same time; they brought our immature sides to the surface. Pat someone on the shoulder and it was all over. 

“Ooo… I like your sweater. Is it felt?”


“It is now! Bahahahaha!”



Tell It Like It Is

So what do I have to offer when I’m asked to give my testimony? Funny thing—I gave it this week. Up until those 12 years in Mexico, it still sounded excessively sheltered… conservative… boring.

To the women who gathered in my family room last night: I do not apologize for my idealistic childhood. I’ve felt guilty about having a dullsville testimony for most of my life, but no more.

Besides the fact that my long stint in another country probably made up for any lack of trauma in my first few decades, I am grateful for my testimony. Maybe someday my soft beginnings will resonate with another human who’s dealing with a so-called boring testimony of their own.

We all have a story to tell. In the world’s eyes, some sound more dramatic than others. Doesn’t mean only people with crazy accounts of poor choices and terrible circumstances can be an encouragement though. 

Maybe someone needs to hear your story, even if it’s vanilla. 


Have you ever given your testimony?

Have you ever thought about how God could use your story to encourage someone else?

Click “comments” next to the title and tell me about it!


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  • Gil Mellis

    Carrie, this is so exactly me. I could have written this as it is exactly my experience (except I wouldn’t have written it as well as you). I have had to do my testimony several times on my outreach trips to Japan, and wondered how it would be useful being so “bland” and in a country where many have never even heard the name of Jesus. It has taken many trips and re-writes to get it to the point where I think it helps, but you are so right that everyone has a story, and as dramatic as some of those stories are, what about that non-believer whose life ISN’T dramatic. Thanks for this. I am going to pass it along to our tour group leader for him to encourage future tour members as they consider their testimonies. No testimony will speak to everyone and every testimony will speak to someone.

    • Carrie Talbott

      Your last line hits the nail on the head! Thanks for your kind words, Gil, and for passing my post on to others who might benefit. You most definitely have the gift of encouragement, and it’s clear you’re a connector, too! Grateful for readers like you.

  • Ronald Vom Steeg

    Carrie… guess who?? Yep, it is me….
    A testimony… each one different… each one special… because each one is loved, cared for from the foundations of the world… God knows each one of us and each one bought with a costly price.

    And each one who trusted Jesus became an adopted child has an opportunity to do something angels can’t do….share your rebirth story.

    Share God’s blessing you received to someone else…. Yep…angels can’t do that. But we can!!! So let’s thank God for His guiding, protecting, opening and closing doors and when the Holy Spirit prompts your spirit to share your story.

    It is simple…” God loves me and ….”

    “So shall my word (through my child) be which goes out from my (child’s) mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11

    Remember… we are a little lower than angels, but our story ROCKS the darkness and brings forth light! Ha…how great is that! Live in the Light and share where the Holy Spirit nudges you….

    • Carrie Talbott

      Great points, Ron! I love the way you’re always in the Word. Always pointing people back to Jesus. Always being an encourager. Thanks for the reminder that my (vanilla) story should still be told.

  • Andrea Chatman

    Someone once told me that my grand daughter of a country church preacher and the lives he and my grandmother lived and inspired led to evidence of a generational blessing in me.

    I think they were right.

  • Laura Alvord

    I always say I want my kids to have a “boring” testimony. It’s a lot easier on their parents!

    • Carrie Talbott

      HA! Well said, Laura. My sister and I always agreed that my parents had it pretty easy. 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  • Gidget

    Oh, Carrie, I defiantly identify. My husband didn’t come to know the Lord until we were dating and when he tells me stories of his childhood, like when he stole something and had no remorse, I was like, “what?”. I had a youth group slumber party (unintentionally) when we stayed up too late watching movies and my parents were out of town. Some were going to help with my paper route in the morning… but still! The horror of “appearing” evil. I was for sure the neighbors would say something. So much guilt, and we didn’t do anything! But… now with all the drama and difficulties with my kids and my health, I see God’s divine hand. He never wastes our pain, no matter how small. That’s my testimony. I thank God for his “sparing” me from harder things… I mean what we’ve been through isn’t easy, by no means. If anyone can be touched and turn to Jesus by our stories, then it’s worth it. Your vanilla story ministered to me.

    • Carrie Talbott

      Thanks, Brenda. Your opening line intrigued me because I wasn’t sure if you meant to say “defiantly” or “definitely.” Either would work, but “defiantly” is more interesting. 🙂 Your youth group story made me laugh because I had the same type of personality. What will people think?! Do you know your Enneagram number? Super insightful when I learned the motivation behind my personality and actions. Thanks for the reminder that God never wastes our pain, no matter how small. #preach

      • Brenda

        Oh geez… I meant definitely, but you’re right, either would work. I’m a 3 on enneagram with a 2 wing “the star” I hate social rejection. Not fun! Probably why I stopped reading (negative) reviews on my books. Lol. But then I love the spotlight. Funny. What number are you?

        • Carrie Talbott

          I’m pretty sure everyone hates social rejection, but maybe 3s feel it more intensely? Funny–my sis is a 2w3, and I’m a 1w2. We’re all neighbors. 🙂 My next goal is to get the downloads that have all the couple numbers. Reading about how Doug and I operate in our numbers is bound to be helpful… and fascinating… and yikes. 🙂

  • Erin Thompson

    Yes, I have shared my testimony. It has been greatly His story shining through toward those with similar experiences with single parents, divorces, and struggles. It ultimately has been his glory that has prevailed and I continue to lean on him for strength and guidance as I raise my children. There is always a story to be told how he has used us in this world to share, and encourage others to trusting Him with their lives.

    • Carrie Talbott

      You’re right, Erin… there is always a story to be told how He has used us. Glad you’re using yours. Thanks for chiming in!