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Category Archives: 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 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. 

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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?”

“No.”

“It is now! Bahahahaha!”

Glory.

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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. 

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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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Dear Gray Hairs: Stop Yer Moanin’

Nothin’ like receiving a personalized letter from my healthcare provider to make me feel cared for.  And geriatric.  Dear Carrie,The recent x-ray of your neck shows degenerative disease. Arthritis, also called osteoarthritis, is a breakdown of the cartilage that cushions your joints. How can you care for yourself at home? Use a cane, crutch, walker, or… Continue Reading

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October Bullying: White Boys in Baja, Brown Girls in Cali

He acted like it wasn’t a big deal, but we knew otherwise. “I got kicked in the stomach today.” I felt objectivity fly out la ventana while my blood pressure rose.  “Why, buddy?” “I don’t know. I couldn’t understand them.” When we sent our tall, pale, strawberry blonde boy to school in a black-hair-rules culture,… Continue Reading

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Above Reproach: 3 Stories with Men That Changed My Ways

At the ripe old age of 16-ish, I’m pretty positive I couldn’t have told you what living above reproach meant.  Fifteen years later I moved to Baja and lived above a roach (a colony of them actually), but that’s different.  The appearance of evil is a tricky thing. If you’re not actually doing anything evil/wrong/illegal,… Continue Reading

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What the What? Didn’t See THAT Comin’

I cooked in my kitchen when the house phone rang. “Sharri has cancer.”I sat in his Jeep when he told me we were done. “I’m loving you more than I’m loving Jesus.”I stood on my college campus when I read, “You have not been selected for the position.” I walked through a Costco parking lot when… Continue Reading

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Lord of the Flaws

  Though some exasperated parents might joke about dropping their sassy Tweens on an island, I’m fairly certain no parent would want the experience to resemble William Golding’s version.  My son brought home his 7th grade required reading list last month. I scanned it, unfazed until I reached the one title that zipped me right… Continue Reading

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I Met 19 New Neighbors! It Was Weird.

  It started five months ago with the people who share our fence. They were nice and we were new, so the conversation revolved around our dogs, mail for the former owner, and if the HOA is strict about paint colors. They are.  Handshakes and names quickly moved to swim invites and baked goods, with… Continue Reading

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Classy Smut

  I walked by the dilapidated Baja house with the window open and heard it. I visited Porvenir friends in the middle of the afternoon and saw it. Almost every time we ate tacos early, like old people, we saw it again—at our favorite stand, just above the raw meat.   Ask any woman in… Continue Reading

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Your Hoopie’s Showing

  My grandma. So sweet and helpful. If you ever wore a necklace in her presence and the clasp slid around toward the front, she was your girl. “Oh here, honey, let me help you. Your hoopie’s showing.” I naturally learned from an early age how hoopies should be on the back of my neck… Continue Reading

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‘Adulting’ Just Grew Up. Please Follow Along, Gen Z.

  “The kid called the officer a pig. To his face.” “A student challenged me in the middle of class about how my assigned homework was unnecessary.” “A parent told me her son can’t pass P.E. because he has a reading disability.” Wouldn’t you love to see the research that connects Shakespeare to dressing out?… Continue Reading

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