“Hey kid! What’s your story?” I can hear my dad asking. It’s a bit of a strange question, isn’t it? I mean, if you’ve never heard it asked before, how might you answer?
Is he asking what my favorite story is, the tale I like best? If so, I could try to impress you by claiming that I find the adventures of Pip in Great Expectations enthralling or that I often pull my back muscles carrying around my true favorite, War and Peace, but I’d be lying. We could sip our tea in an overpriced coffee shop while discussing allegory, antagonists, protagonists and symbolism. I could try my best to fake it in a lucid, lively, literary litigation and even use awkward alliteration. Unfortunately it would only be a matter of minutes until my act would crash and burn. I’d throw in a reference to Thoreau’s brilliance in penning, “On Golden Pond.” Right author. Wrong pond. Good stories. I read them once … and it was enough. My true favorite story?
It would either be P. D. Eastman’s classic treatment of the canine chaos or the time-tested ichthyologist journal by that renowned doctor. I’m sure you know which stories I’m referring to. Yes, Go, Dog, Go (Eastman) and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Seuss. Both top my list of favorites. I’ve read them hundreds of times.
Dad’s question was actually more of a, “What’s up?”
My story. Your story. We have the immediate story; watching the Red Sox bullpen blow a lead, cleaning the house, trying to fix a generator, knitting mittens, etc. But then we have our larger story, the stories of our lives.
Our life stories are made up of things that happen to us and things we make happen. In fact, even the things that happen to us beyond our control can be altered by our reactions. Really, you and I are, in large part, writing our stories. I hold the pen. You hold the pen.
Let me explain. In 2005 I got sick and had my gall bladder removed. No sweat, more than a half million people in the U.S. have gall bladder surgery each year. My story took a twist when my surgeon saw my liver and said,”Hmmm, that doesn’t look right.” My next chapter was titled, “Life with NonAlcoholic SteatoHepatitis” (NASH) marked by what they called a “fatty liver” with lots of fat pockets. Okay, so what can I do? Out comes the pen of my decisions, my reactions and my plans.
Some people facing chronic illness, give up. They dwell on the negative and decide they are powerless to affect any part of their story. Others dig in their heals and determine to fight. I decided to learn what I could, change my diet and lose weight. Most people with Fatty Liver Disease don’t progress to NASH and then, most people (95%) with NASH never need a liver transplant. But that was not my story.
I wrote my next chapter with a framework of exercise, healthy eating, weight-loss, prayer and increasing dependence on God. A lot of people angrily write God out of their story but I didn’t think that was a wise move. It would be comparable to pitching my boat motor overboard and choosing to go the rest of the way with oars. I see lots of people doing that and wincing with each painful stroke.
Only about 6000 people get liver transplants each year. That’s .002 percent of the population. Yeah, I sure am special! It’s now a chapter of my story with the “writing” of my decisions, perspective and attitudes coloring it. With each decision I make to look for the positive and keep fighting, more lines to my story are written.
My story is still being written. So is yours. In each of life’s challenges we get to write. We choose our attitudes. We decide how to act and react. We choose either to sink into hopelessness or dig in our heals and fight. We decide to either wallow in self-pity or make the best of our situations.
Where is your story headed? What are you writing around your personal challenges? Are you being proactive or reactive? Are you writing a story of defeat or victory?
Is it time to “right” your story and make changes? No matter how bad things are, you are not powerless – especially if you haven’t written God out of your story. If you have, it’s time to write Him back in.
“And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us – an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him! That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times.” – Romans 8:17-18 (The Message)