If you have time, read this first. It inspired the post I’m writing.
We are all, in some sense, slaves to the stories we tell ourselves. Many of the decisions and actions we make are the result of a self-narrative we’ve been perpetuating for most of our lives. For some of us our narratives are life-giving and energizing, for others they are crippling and defeating, but these narratives become the context for the grudges we hold onto, the habits we never break, and opportunities we never take.
Some self-stories perpetuate addictions. Someone who constantly believe that the consumption of a substance is the only way to take the edge off is going to continue using. Someone who tells themselves they are not strong enough to say ‘no’ probably never will say ‘no.’ Crippling stories…
Some self-stories perpetuate isolation. The lonely person who continues to tell themselves that no one wants to be around them are probably going to go to bed tonight alone and wake up the next morning alone. They have succumbed to a crippling self-story of isolation.
Most of the time the reasons these stories develop is because we have been wounded. Narratives help to give a context to things. We reason that if we can give a context to our pain, it will help us to avoid it the next time, so we develop some sort of story about ourselves in order to avoid pain. The reason this happened to me is because I am this kind of person… as the story goes.
These stories rob us of life.
They cripple us.
One of the things I love about the Gospels, and about Jesus in particular, is that he is constantly giving people a new story about themselves.
To a paralytic who believed that his sin was the reason he was crippled, Jesus told him he was forgiven.
To a woman who’d been bleeding for years he looked upon lovingly and said “daughter, your faith has healed you.”
To a fisherman named Peter he gave a new name: “Rock,” and told him he would lead his new movement.
To a religious leader who believed his son was dying he said “take heart, for your son will live.”
To a man who’d been crippled for 38 years near the pool of Bethesda, telling himself the same story: “I have no one to help me into the pool…someone always goes ahead of me,” Jesus says “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk!”
That’s what happens whon a person comes in contact with Jesus: they walk away with a new story about themselves: not a story of pain, helplessness, woundedness, addiction, defeat, fear or despair, but a story of hope, truth, excitement, newness, beauty, and life. No longer do we have to be slaves to the stories we tell ourselves, but we are given a new story… a truer story…a bigger story.
I cannot begin to tell you how many self-defeating stories have been put to death by the light of Christ in my life, and the new story that God created me with all along. They are too many to count. Each day has become for me a new adventure of more fully realizing the new story for which I was created, and I am not the same man that I was yesterday. That’s what God does in people. That’s what he’s done in me: he’s given me a new story.
Do you need a new story?