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.
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!