They say behind every smile is a story.
The more life I live, the more pain I see and the more stories I step into.
I've found that I have this strange ability.
It's actually a blessing and a curse.
It's called empathy.
When someone is hurting, I feel it.
I see it on their face and I sense it.
I've always been this way, ever since I was a little girl.
I take the pain of others upon myself.
Even if I only sense the smallest glimpse of hurt, I still want to try and help.
That's just who I am and I can't make it stop.
Still, even through the pain, I love to hear people's stories.
I love it when I can go deep with someone and understand them more.
I never want to stop learning about them. I want to know everything. Every detail.
I don't care if it hurts me to enter into the dark places of their life, as long as they allow me to come alongside them and help in any way I can.
Sometimes all we need is someone to listen and feel what we are going through.
Today, I was on Facebook and I looked to the left of my screen.
There was a list of randomly chosen friends displayed, with a preview of their profile pictures.
I stopped for second to look at each of their faces, and suddenly their individual stories rushed into my memory.
One was a young girl struggling with constant chronic pain every single day, who has to go to school and try to be normal when she can barely stand to move without feeling her whole body ache.
Another was a woman who was recently divorced and covering up the pain.
Next to her was an older couple who lost their newborn baby many years ago in a tragic accident.
Beside them was my friend from high school who just recently came out and told everyone that she had been sexually abused for years by one of our former teachers.
Above her was another girl my age who lost her father about a year ago to cancer.
Those were just a few of the faces I saw, chosen at random.
I am grateful these friends shared their stories with me at some point in our lives together.
Clearly, each of them have lived through some very hard times, yet somehow they still manage to smile and encourage others through it.
That is true courage and it inspires me to do the same.
We all have stories that need to be shared.
If you are reading this, I want to make sure I know your story, if I don't already.
When I saw those faces on Facebook, I felt their pain but I also felt their strength.
I want to feel your pain with you too.
Please share your story with me.
I would love to be someone who listens and goes deeper with you.
This post is an open invitation for everyone to share their stories and testimonies with me.
Even if I already know some parts of your story, there's always more to learn.
I would love for you to contact me and share.
And with your permission, I would be so honored to make a page on this blog dedicated to all of your stories.
If you'd like to participate in spreading hope in this way, email me and I'll send you a questionnaire.
God has unique plans for us all and every story is woven together.
Someday it will all make sense, but for now we can encourage one another through the journey.
This community is filled with different people, from all walks of life, who represent unique experiences.
The best way for us to find hope is through sharing with one another.
Let's discover more about our identity in Christ together and spread the hope that we've found.
What's your story?