It's not what I have[.] It's what I have to give. A blog about resources--gaining, giving, and sharing.

18 July 2011

EXPERIENCES Affect Identity – pt.1

12:01 AM Posted by steve flores 1 comment
“The worst circumstances often produce the best character and the best story line.
Worst circumstances can double as the best circumstances.”
–Mark Batterson

Part one of a series of seven posts.
**I've talked with several friends about sharing their personal, negative experiences with my blog subscribers.  They have agreed.  Along with my story, email subscribers, will receive real life stories of friends who have trusted God to bring triumph from tragic experiences.  Their stories are powerful and inspiring.  They are sharing with the hope to inspire hope for an identity that may be lost in negative experiences.  I am grateful they are willing to share.  I will send them, one by one, as an email to my subscriber list after the seventh post.  If you are interested in receiving their stories, then subscribe to receive email updates.**

Experiences affect identity.  Good experiences, like winning the lottery, getting a pay raise, selling your home after only being on the market two weeks, getting married, or finding out your pregnant (because you’ve trying for months) are not the only experiences that influence your identity in a positive way.  God can use the negative ones, too.  You know, the ones you’ve tried to forget.  The ones that hurt real bad.  The ones you are ashamed of and want freedom from.  Yes, those ones. 

I don’t want write about good experiences and how those affect our identity.  I want write about how bad experiences, if we allow them, can affect our identity in a positive way.  You don’t have to be down in the dumps, to be ashamed, to be insecure, or to feel like we are a failure, because of negative experiences.  God can use your negative (bad) experiences to shape your identity in a positive way.  It takes perspective and a desire to move beyond the negative experiences.

On October 31, 2003, Bethany Hamilton went for a morning surf along Tunnels Beach, Kauai with her friend Alana Blanchard and Alana’s father and brother.  Around 7:30 a.m., she was lying sideways on her surfboard with her left arm dangling in the water.  Suddenly, a 14 ft tiger shark attacked her, ripping her left arm off just below the shoulder.  They quickly rushed her to the hospital, where she spent seven days in recovery.  When the bandages came off, the sight of her arm nearly caused her to faint. “It was a lot worse than I had imagined,” Bethany said. “I was going to need help from someone much bigger than myself if I was ever going to get back in the water.”  Bethany is Christ-follower. 

Bethany prefers not to make the shark attack “a big soap opera.”  Rather, she prefers to focus on what God has allowed her to do in picking up the pieces of her old life and adjusting to the new one.  Her movie is currently available, it is called, “Soul Surfer.”  Bethany’s tragic experience has impacted and challenged many people.  I want you read how her negative experience has affected her identity in a positive way.

“I have this thought every second of my life—Why me?  Not negatively, like, ‘Why did this terrible thing happen to me?’  But more like ‘Why did God choose me and what does He have in mind for me?’"

“I see that God is able to use my story to help others.  Once a girl came up and told me that she had had cancer.  When she learned of my story it made her realize that she didn't need to give up.”

And probably one of the most powerful quotes I have ever read:
I could never have embraced this many people with two arms.”

Bethany understands this negative experience has given her the opportunity to touch so many lives.  She is not discouraged because of how she looks or focused on her disability because of the loss of her arm.  Instead, Bethany realizes that God can use negative experiences to shape her identity in a positive way and others, as well.

God can do the same for you.  Are you ready to explore negative experiences and discover how God can redeem even those?