My grandmother had an expression that captured the myriad nuances of testimony and its power to transform. As we sat around her porch on humid, southern nights, she would open her stories of God’s goodness with “honey, it’s a story to tell!” As though there are some stories only to be read, others folded like worn quilts in the secret places of our hearts, or still others that dance unrestrained like leaves upon a sudden breeze.
But what I sensed in her expression was the urgency of sharing our testimonies. That engaging in a communal dialogue about the Spirit connected us to an individual transformation and ultimately, a collective one as a body of believers. When we keep the power of God to ourselves, we miss the lesson that was meant not just for us, but for others. That our overcoming is a roadmap for how others can continue their destinies uninterrupted.
Testimonies are simply our stories translated into a spiritual dialect, where our sundry experiences are shared in the same voice. The barriers that once separated us become less meaningful. Instead we are connected through the strength of learning that someone not only survived their circumstances, but came out of it unbroken. Where the story from the other side offers a reflection of who you can become, a compass for direction, a light in darkness and confusion, and manna for your soul.
The Word teaches that we overcome through the testimonies of others, so embedded in that is an edict that we must give voice to our experiences. That the articulation of our journey with God carries power beyond our words, but that it morphs into an agent of change when shared. You are standing now because you heard of someone who did the same. You can shout now because you read of someone who shouted out of what you are going through.
And so knowing that testimonies by their nature must be shared, we gathered around the porch on humid, southern nights to share how we made it over. And by the time the front porch crowd thinned and Big Mama shooed us all home… you knew that no one left that porch unchanged.