good girl … rebellious teen … restored … painful marriage … redeemed by Him
Listening to “More Than Small Talk,” one of my favorite podcasts I've mentioned before, the hosts were talking about the stories of our lives. They challenged their listeners to write their own story in 10 words or less. You see mine above.
In the podcast, they shared how sometimes we may have pages or chapters of our stories we wish we could tear out and re-write. And while we cannot re-write them, we can certainly re-frame them. This was a great exercise to stop for a moment and really put some thought into each chapter of my life.
Good girl … the Story: All I remember from my earliest years was being told what a good girl I was—easy, quiet, compliant, didn’t cause trouble. You may be thinking…what’s wrong with that? Not a thing (and my first born was also a good girl—so I’m not complaining!) But the story I told myself was my value and worth came from always being good, always following all the rules.
When I re-frame this now I would say, “My value and worth come from being a child of the King, who loves me no matter my actions because I am a sinner, saved only by His grace.”
Rebellious teen … the Story: If my value and worth are found in my good behavior, then to spread my wings, I need to live a double life, so no one ever finds out the “real” me. Under the influence of alcohol, I was having a blast! When I was not, guilt and fear of being found out never left me. The results were health issues and a lot of shame.
The re-framed story? “Girl, God loved you and protected you every moment of that chapter. While you’ve had to live with some of the emotional consequences, He has used and redeemed that chapter in the lives of others.”
Restored … the Story: This chapter doesn’t need re-framing … thank God for His grace in moving me with my family across the country and placing me in a setting with great mentors from our college group at church. Here I re-learned and finally understood how taking the faith of my parents and personalizing it in my life, changes everything! God’s love, forgiveness and grace became so real to me during those years.
Painful marriage … the Story: While I had learned much in my relationship with God, I still believed I was very much in control of my Story and knew what was best for me. Entering into marriage at a young age where I knew I could “fix” any issues, I set myself up for many years of pain and tears.
Re-framing of those years … yes, these were the most challenging years of my life. But through them I gained more than I lost. A true dependence on God as my one and only, my Abba Father, my husband, and my confidante. Without those years, I would not have the relationship with Him I have now … and I wouldn’t trade that relationship for anything. I also would not have true empathy and understanding for all those in my life who are in similar scenarios.
Redeemed by Him … the Story: this chapter also does not need to be re-framed. God redeemed my marriage “beyond all that I could ask or imagine.” By remaining faithful to Him, He was so faithful to me and gave my husband and I a gift we do not take for granted. Without the pain, we wouldn’t know the joy. Without the sorrow, we wouldn’t know the abundance. And this hope is one I can also share with others.
I love how Lysa Terkeurst says it in her book, "It's Not Supposed To Be This Way":
“If you have ever experienced an unexpected darkness, a silence and stillness you aren’t used to, know that these hard times, these devastating disappointments, these seasons of suffering are not for nothing. They will grow you. They will shape you. They will soften you. They will allow you to experience God’s comfort and compassion. But you will find life-giving purpose and meaning when you allow God to take your painful experiences and comfort others. You will be able to share a unique hope because you know exactly what it feels to be them.”
What will future chapters hold? Probably more pain and more grace. Some may need to eventually be re-framed, and others will not. What I do know, is I do not need to fear them. Jesus is the true author of my story and I trust Him. And as I re-read the chapters that have already been written, I have learned much that helps me with the choices I make for the future.
What about you? What would your 10 words be … and do any of your chapters need to be re-framed? I would love to have you share your 10 words with me in the comments.
I encourage you to listen to this episode of the "More Than Small Talk" podcast for greater depth and insight. Also, I want to add something they pointed out … that sometimes there are chapters you did not write. Someone else may have written them when you had no control over them. The Story of their life collided with yours. I believe those chapters could be the most important ones of all to be re-framed. And there’s a good chance you might need the help of a Christian counselor to help you do so. If that is your Story, I hope you will make that a priority today.
Thank you for walking through my Story with me and I hope you found something to encourage you as you are writing your chapters.