Sharon Jaynes: Your Story, Made Breathtaking
How could you heal your story's brokenness so you can share it? Bestselling author Sharon Jaynes talks about how to emerge from shame --toward healing.
About the Guest
How could you heal your story’s brokenness so you can share it? Bestselling author Sharon Jaynes talks about how to emerge from shame –toward healing.
Sharon Jaynes: Your Story, Made Breathtaking
Sharon: The people that we choose not to forgive—they don’t care; okay?—and most of the time, they don’t even know.
We don’t forgive someone because they deserve it—and we’re not saying that what they did isn’t wrong—
Sharon: —what we are saying is we are going to give the burden of justice to God, and we are going to be free.
Ann: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Ann Wilson.
Dave: And I’m Dave Wilson, and you can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on our FamilyLife® app.
Ann: This is FamilyLife Today!
Dave: I think I know what you are going to say,—
Dave: —but what would you say was the lowest point of our marriage?
Ann: Oh, no doubt—
Dave: Please don’t say yesterday or today. [Laughter]
Ann: I’m guessing our listeners would know this answer. It was our ten-year anniversary when I told you, “I’ve got nothing left. I’ve lost all of my feelings for you”; and I felt, in my heart, like, “I’m done; I’ve got nothing”; and I didn’t even have hope.
Dave: That was 31 years ago.
Dave: So now, when you think of that moment, what do you think?
Ann: God used that moment to catapult us into what He designed for our future; whereas, I look at it, and I think Satan—his design was that our marriage would end; we would be hopeless; you would be out of ministry—that was his goal. God said, “Wait until you see what I do with the lowest point of your life.”
Dave: Yes, that is what I thought you would say; because it is interesting to think what we felt in that moment—which was absolute despair—now, we are sitting here, right now, in this studio with FamilyLife because of that moment.
Ann: And I don’t think He said, “Oh, I want this to happen.” It was our own sin; it was our/they were—
Dave: It was my sin. Go ahead: you can say it was mine.
Ann: It was mine, too; because I made our marriage an idol. But isn’t God so gracious that, when we try to hide things, He says, “Let Me have it, and wait until you see what a miracle I can do with it if you let Me”?
Dave: And I think what we discovered is the truth of God. He uses all stories, and He turns them to a beautiful story if we let Him do it. That’s what we’re talking about today with Sharon Jaynes; we’ve got her back in the studio. We talked about her story yesterday. Sharon, welcome back to FamilyLife Today.
Ann: You’re giving listeners, especially women, so much help in areas that we feel like we are broken and we’re lost; and you give us hope. In your book, When You Don’t Like Your Story—and the subtitle is: What If Your Worst Chapters Could Become Your Greatest Victories?—again, you give us that hope.
Dave: I mean, that’s what you told us yesterday. We were all in the studio, in tears, with your/Sharon, yesterday, when you were talking about your story with your dad’s drinking problem, and the fights,—
Ann: —the abuse.
Dave: —and running to the corners of the home to avoid it. That is exactly my story with my sister—she and I would go hide away from—but we would hear the carnage out in the family room, and it ended terribly.
But by the end of yesterday’s [broadcast], we were like, “Look at what God”—I mean, God saved you, saved your mom, brought your dad to Christ—again, if you missed yesterday, go listen to it; you don’t want to miss it. God took exactly what you say [is] your worst chapter and turned it into something beautiful.
Sharon: And I want to say, too, when you were saying you heard my story, and you thought, “That’s just like my story,” a lot of times, when I am teaching or I’m writing—whether it’s about this or something else—someone will say, “I feel like you are talking just to me.” Do you know why? We all have similar stories; we’ve got the same enemy that wants to tear us down and the same Savior who wants to heal us. So we do have similar stories.
Ann: You travel; you speak to women. Are you hearing the same story that women are saying that over and over?
Sharon: Over and over they say it. If someone is listening now, just know you are not alone. Whatever you’ve gone through—that you feel ashamed of or that you’ve been hiding—you are not alone in that. It is the devil/the enemy that wants you to think you are the only one, and you are not.
Dave: And by the way, there are two women sitting here—and you are talking about women feeling this—men feel this too.
Sharon: Yes; yes.
Dave: Even yesterday, Sharon, when you said, as your dad was doing these things and your family was in just chaos, you thought that there was something wrong with you. I felt the exact same thing. When Dad left—I never said it out loud, I don’t think—but I was like, “What is wrong with me that Dad wouldn’t stay?”
Ann: Dave, I felt the same thing because of sexual abuse that happened to me. I remember it happening with a new person; and at that point, at 7 years old, it wasn’t “Why is this happening to me?” My thought changed to: “There must be something wrong with me.”
Sharon: And that’s the definition of shame—
Sharon: —because shame takes something that happened to you, and you make it who you are:
- Let’s say it was failure: instead of “I failed”; shame says, “I am a failure.”
- Or when you’ve been sexually abused, instead of a little child thinking—they don’t have the ability to even process: “Someone did this to me,”—it becomes who I am. That shame goes onto little girls and big girls.
I remember being in the car with a friend Lisa one time, and her little girl Brooke was about five years old in the backseat. Brooke said [youthful voice], “Mommy, is worse to pick at mosquito bites or scabs?” [Laughter] Lisa said, “Well, you shouldn’t pick at either one of them.” I looked back, and Brooke had done both; I mean, she had little bloody spots on her legs.
When I was thinking about that, I thought, “You know, little girls aren’t the only ones who pick at scabs; big girls do it too.”
Ann: What do you mean by that?
Sharon: We pick at emotional scabs. When we do that—men do it too—but when we pick at emotional scabs, we’re not allowing it to heal. To get from a place of like, for me/for my family—my mom, my dad, and myself—coming to Christ, well, that certainly is not the end of that story. You told me, Dave, your dad came to Christ.
We were little girls—and we became big girls—and we had to deal with things that happened in our lives, but how are we going to deal with that? How—and the subtitle is What If Your Worst Chapters Could Become Your Greatest Victories?—that does not happen naturally. Some things have to happen in order for us to have, what I call, have a better story.
I now want to mention this to what I said yesterday—it’s not usually the whole of our story we don’t like—it’s usually certain chapters.
Sharon: You didn’t like the chapter of being abused—that one chapter—but not the whole story.
Ann: But it’s interesting, Sharon, because so often, the chapter out of a hundred chapters—that one or two chapters—it defines everything.
Sharon: Absolutely; there is something in the actual makeup in the brain that we remember traumatic events more than happy events. It’s just the way our brains are wired. When we go through a traumatic event—whether it has happened over a period of time or it’s a one-time event—they can form what the Bible calls strongholds that we hold onto; it’s holding onto us, and we can’t seem to get free of it.
Now, if you’ve got some trauma in your life that you feel like is defining you, then there are some steps you need to go through in order to have a better story. I want to mention, too, people can very easily tell you bad things that happened in their lives. They can tell you difficulties they have had or how someone has hurt them. They could tell you about the mistakes they’ve made—less likely to do that—but in order to have an effective story, you need to be on the other side of healing to have a story that’s really going to help someone else that’s going to glorify God.
So how do we get to that place? Well, the first thing I think we need to do is to recognize that we have something that needs healing. God asks us: “Do you want to get well?” Now, that seems like a strange question: “Of course, I want to get well”; but do you really? [Laughter]
Let me give you an example; in John, Chapter 5, remember Jesus goes to the pool of Bethesda. There are men around this—and women around—this pool that are infirmed; they’ve got all kinds of sicknesses. They believe that an angel comes down from heaven, and stirs the water, and the first one in gets healed. There is a man sitting there—he is lame; he has been there for 38 years—and Jesus comes up to that man and asks him a strange question. He asks him—what?
Ann: “Do you want to get healed?”
Dave: “Do you want to get well?”
Sharon: “Do you want to get well?” What a weird question! “I’ve been here for 38 years; of course, I want to get well!” But you know what? The guy didn’t even answer Jesus; he just started making excuses. He said, “Well, when the water is stirred, nobody is here to help me. It’s not my fault; it’s other people’s fault.” That was not a discussion question—that was a “Yes,” or “No,”; not even multiple choice—“’Yes,’ or ‘No’; do you want to get well?”
I wonder if he really did—because you think—if this man got well, he’d have to make some major changes in his life. He’d have to stand on his own two feet; he’d have to get a job. I mean, his life was going to be radically different. This is all he had known. “Do you want to get well?” Well, he never answered Jesus; but Jesus just told him to take up his mat and walk: “Get up and get going.”
You know, 38 years sounds like a long time; but it was about 38 years in my own life before I started really accepting the healing that God wanted me to have in certain areas because of my childhood.
Ann: Do you think—if Jesus asked you: “Sharon, do you want to get well?”—what would you have said?
Sharon: I would not have known exactly what my sickness was.
Ann: That is a great point, because I think a lot of people aren’t aware.
Sharon: I wouldn’t have known. God sent another woman in my life—she was an older woman in my church at the time—it makes me kind of queasy saying that; because now, I’m her age. [Laughter] Now, I’m that older woman! [Laughter]
But as I was going to Bible studies, and I was teaching Bible studies at the time, Mary Marshall pulled me aside; and she said, “Sharon, I can see the insecurity in you, and God wants to heal you of that.” She took me through a process of overcoming feelings of insecurity, and inadequacy, and inferiority that I felt because of what the messages that I heard, as a child, carried. I knew Jesus: listen, you can know Jesus, and be teaching Bible studies, and be under a cloud of shame and a cloud of feeling like you are so less than everybody else.
Dave: I mean, you are 38 years old; and you are doing all these great things for the kingdom. You’re still carrying that question, “What’s wrong with me?”
Sharon: “What’s wrong with me?”—
Ann: I did too.
Dave: —still there.
Ann: That’s what I was going to say. I think if someone had said to me, “Do you have shame?” I would have thought, “No, I don’t/I don’t know; I’ve never even thought about that.” Then I would list off all the things I was doing for Jesus.
Ann: Yet, if you look at: “What are the symptoms?”—and I think we need to do that as women; maybe, as men too, Dave—I was so insecure. I had the self-talk of: “You’re failing,” “You’re bad at this,” “You’re ugly.” The self-talk, I wasn’t aware that was going on in my mind, was a reflection of the shame I was carrying. I could never praise any other woman. I was in competition, constantly, because of my own security; those are all signs.
Sharon: But you probably—if you were anything like me—you thought, “That’s just who I am.”
Ann: —“because I’ve always had it.”
Sharon: It’s like this—my husband, every day, when he worked—he just retired—he would get up at 5:30; take a shower; he would put change in his pocket; put the keys in his pockets; he would blow his nose and make other noises I won’t get into—[Laughter]—then, when he left the house, the alarm would go off: that little beep, beep. You know what? I never heard it. Why? Because I was accustomed to hearing it every day, and my mind just shut it out. We can get so used to telling ourselves lies—“I’m no good,” “I’m ugly,” “I can’t do this,” “I can’t do that,”—we can get so accustomed to telling ourselves those lies that we don’t know it.
That’s why David said, “Awake, my soul.” Who is he talking to? He’s talking to himself, basically, saying, “Pay attention soul!” We need to pay attention to what we are telling ourselves. I love—D.L. Moody once said, “In order to tell that a stick is crooked, you don’t argue about it or denounce it. You simply lay a straight stick alongside it,”—and we need to put beside what we are telling ourselves, along beside God’s Word, and say, “Is this true?” If it is not true—if it does not line up with Scripture about what God says about who we are—we need to reject that lie and replace it with the truth. So that part of that healing was: “Do you want to get well?”
For me, with Mary Marshall Young, I said, “Yes, I want to overcome this. How am I going to get well?” We all have to make that decision.
Dave: When she said to you—“Hey, I see these insecurities”—did you agree? I mean, did you see it as well?
Sharon: Honestly, I did not really understand what my identity in Christ meant. I knew the verses—I had even memorized them—but I didn’t really think they were true for me. I thought they were true for other people. The bottom line is we have to decide: “Does God tell the truth?” Whoa!—that is a big sentence—“Does God tell the truth? Does He tell the truth about who I really am as His child?” It was a learning process of a couple of years, honestly.
But let me say this: I never wrote my first book until after that time with her.
Sharon: It really took being well of that—and I’m not saying I’ve never struggled with insecurities again or feeling inadequate again; I still struggle with that—but now I know how to fight the lies with the truth.
That first step to having a better story is deciding: “I want to get well,” and not allowing what happened to us to—or listen, it’s not just what happened to me by other people—but it’s also what has happened through me by the mistakes that I have made. Maybe, someone has had an abortion in their past; or maybe, they’ve been sexually promiscuous in their past; or they’ve committed a crime in their past, and they’ve asked that God forgive them. So it’s not just what has been done to me; but making a decision: “I want to be well.”
- Once you make that decision that—“Yes, I want to be well,” and that you’re willing to do the work—the second step is to forgive those people who have hurt you.
You know, I was sitting at a college football game one time. I was sitting on the end of a row. People kept tripping on the step right beside me—they had popcorn; they had their drinks—they kept tripping and spill a little bit of drink. After a while, it kind of got comical. [Laughter] Don’t think badly of me—but I was trying not to laugh—nobody got hurt. At half-time, I went and measured that step and the other steps.
Ann: Wait! You measured because you thought, “Why are people tripping?”
Sharon: “Why are people tripping over this step?” It was about a quarter-inch higher. Now, that’s how forgiveness is in our life. I think that is a step that many Christians trip over in their stories. Yet, it’s what our faith is based on. Our whole faith is based on forgiveness; and yet, we struggle with forgiving other people.
I love what the—the New Testament is written in Greek; the Old Testament in Hebrew—the actual Greek word for forgiveness in the New Testament is called aphiemi. Now, it means to let someone loose; to cut someone loose; to let someone go free. Now, in my Southern-ness, I have a little app on my phone that lets me say these difficult words because that aphiemi doesn’t just roll off my tongue. [Laughter] So what I was/I kept saying: “Off of me.”
Ann: Oh, yes.
Sharon: “Off of me.” Isn’t that what forgiveness is?—“Off of me.” So to forgive someone means, really, basically: to cut someone loose. And unforgiveness—what would be the opposite?—it would be to strap someone on. When we choose not to forgive someone, it’s like we are carrying that burden of unforgiveness around with us; it’s such a heavy burden to carry. But when we forgive them, we cut the burden loose; and we let them go free.
Ann: It’s interesting; I was just thinking of a Scripture that Jesus said, “I have come to set the captives free.”
Sharon: I did not write this sentence, and it’s so great—I do not know who said it—“Forgiveness is setting the prisoner free, but realizing the prisoner was you.”
Dave: Yes, Lewis Smedes: it’s in his book, Forgive or Forget; yes.
Sharon: That is so true; isn’t it? Another quote is: “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” I don’t know who said that either, but I sure love it.
Dave: I don’t either.
Sharon: Okay. [Laughter]
Dave: But I mean, I’ve been on a similar journey with forgiveness with my dad. Our listeners, right now, are going, “Yes, but you don’t understand how hard it is—
Sharon: Yes, I do.
Dave: —“because this person destroyed my life.”
Ann: — and “They don’t deserve it.”
Dave: Yes, we do; we do understand; it really is hard. I was 35 before I forgave my dad. I started the journey when I was like 30. I’m like, “I will forgive him next weekend,”—I know this: Ephesians 4:32, ‘Forgive as you’ve been forgiven,’—I’ll forgive him next weekend.” It took me five years—
Ann: You had to—
Dave: —to walk that journey.
Ann: You went through your own healing process.
Dave: Oh, yes; I’m sure you [Sharon] did the same thing.
Sharon: Well, when I was in my 20s, I had gone to school for 2 years; and then I went and got a 2-year associates degree in dental hygiene. Then I worked two years. Then I felt like God was calling me back to school, but I could not hear from God. I was just praying and hitting a brick wall.
The first year I felt that I should go back; the second year—same thing—not hearing from God. I went to one of my mentors, this precious man. I said, “Can you pray for me?—because I really can’t get an answer on this.” He read me many of those verses about: “Ask and you shall receive,”—but wouldn’t you know it?!—he put it in context.
Don’t you hate it when people do that? [Laughter]
Sharon: So he read the verses before and after—and every one of those verses had a passage on forgiveness—he said, “Sharon, I feel like the reason you’re not hearing from God is because you still have unforgiveness for your father.”
Dave: “You’re blocked”; yes.
Sharon: Even though my dad had become a Christian, every time he did something wrong, that anger came back in me/—
Sharon: —that hurt came back. That night, I did forgive my father for everything he had done.
You know what? I started hearing from God again. I knew what to do—and I’m not saying that, once you forgive someone, you’re going to strike it rich, and all your dreams are going to come true—but I do know that, when we have unforgiveness in our hearts, then we can’t hear from God as we should; there is a block there.
You mentioned, Ann, that we don’t forgive because we feel like they don’t deserve it.
Sharon: Well, absolutely, they probably don’t deserve it; but guess what?
Dave: Neither do we; yes.
Sharon: I don’t deserve it; you don’t deserve it.
Dave: None of us deserves God’s forgiveness; and yet, He forgave us. Scripture tells us to forgive as Christ has forgiven us. Well, they might not deserve it—but you deserve it—because the people we choose not to forgive—they don’t care; okay?—and most of the time, they don’t even know.
Ann: Well, we’re trying to punish them.
Sharon: But we’re punishing ourselves.
Ann: We’re trying to punish them, but we’re punishing ourselves.
Sharon: So we don’t forgive someone because they deserve it—and we’re not saying what they did isn’t wrong—what we are saying is we are going to let it go. We’re going to give the burden of justice to God, and we are going to be free.
Dave: Yes, and they may not be, but we will: I’ve experienced that; you’ve experienced that. But here is the thing—I know you said there are four steps—you’ve only got two. Can you do the other two?
Dave: Alright; what are they?
Sharon: Well, the third one is—we call forgiveness: “Coming out of the pain place,”—the next one is: “Coming out of the shame place,”—that, like I mentioned, sometimes, it’s when someone has hurt us; and sometimes, it is the decisions that we’ve made that are causing us to be stuck.
- So “Receiving God’s forgiveness and letting it go”;
- “Coming out of the shame place”;
- and the fourth step is so important; it’s: “Once you feel like you are ready and healed is to tell your story.” We’re going back to where we started—with my dad coming to Christ—because there was a man [pastor], who was willing to tell his story.
Once you tell your story how God has healed you, and brought you through the difficult chapters in your life, then they will become your greatest victories.
Dave: Again, we sort of come back to where we started yesterday—2 Corinthians 1—“He comforts us in our afflictions so that”—
Sharon: —“so that..”
Dave: —the purpose is those stories, literally, are what God uses; it’s like—weakness/brokenness—God just redeems to connect with other people, who are living in that same valley, and saying, “There is a way out; His name is Jesus. You can have victory.” That is how He changes broken stories to beautiful stories.
Shelby: Many of us have heard the phrase: “Hurt people hurt people,”—but the opposite is also true—“Transformed people transform people.” As we see God work in our lives, and help us overcome the shame of our past/our history, we are offered forgiveness—we receive forgiveness—and then we are able to extend that forgiveness to others. People, as a result, are transformed. When we intentionally receive the grace of God, we are able to step out of the shame of our past, and then tell our story and watch God work in the lives of other people as well.
Dave and Ann Wilson have been talking with Sharon Jaynes today about her book, When You Don’t Like Your Story: What If Your Worst Chapters Could Become Your Greatest Victories? We believe in this book so much that, when you head over to FamilyLifeToday.com and make a donation of any amount, we’re going to send you a copy of this book as our way of saying, “Thank you for giving and advancing the gospel effort of FamilyLife Today.” You can find it at FamilyLifeToday.com, or you can pick up the phone and call us at 1-800-358-6329; that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.” Make your request there, and you can receive a copy of Sharon Jaynes’s book. Thanks, in advance, for your support; and we hope you enjoy this fantastic resource.
Watching God heal brokenness is something that we’ve seen done in so many different ways, particularly at the Weekend to Remember® event. I have the president of FamilyLife with me here today, David Robbins. David, you’ve had lots of opportunities to see God work in the midst of the brokenness.
David: I so appreciate the conversation today about how hard chapters—and even the worst chapter in our lives—can be the things that shape our stories and that God moves in greatly. What we see all the time at Weekend to Remember getaways is that people come in, and the realities of life had drifted couples apart. Really, the simplicity of what we do is—certainly, offer up truth from God’s Word—but also get people looking in the eye and having conversations that, really, just the speed of life doesn’t allow you to have. And no matter what chapter you are in your life currently, getting time away to spend time with one another, and focus on one another, could be something that God restores and starts a new chapter that you’ve been longing for in your marriage.
Shelby: Yes, that’s right. You can head over to FamilyLifeToday.com, find different locations about where the Weekend to Remember events are, find a time, sign up, and watch God do amazing things in your marriage. Again, you can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can give us a call at 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
And there is a Weekend to Remember conference that’s happening in Charlotte, North Carolina, this weekend. We’d love it if you’d take a second to pray for the couples who will be attending this upcoming weekend.
Now, on Monday, we hope you can join us as we talk about restoring our lasting values that can amplify God’s greatness. James Merritt is going to be joining Dave and Ann Wilson next week.
If this content today, or any of our FamilyLife programs have been helpful for you, we’d love for you to share today’s podcast with a friend or a family member. And wherever you get your podcasts, it could really advance what we’re doing at FamilyLife if you’d scroll down and rate and review us.
On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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