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The Story I Tell Myself (#GrowDeep)
by Rey Diaz
Posted on Tuesday, March 21, 2017
(Special thanks to Elise Diaz for her contributions to this #GrowDeep devotional!)

In a series of books called “A Series of Unfortunate Events” (recently released as a series on Netflix), three children are orphaned when their parents perish in a mysterious fire.  As the title depicts, the children go from one bad situation to another worst situation as they are on the run from diabolical thief out to steal their fortune.  Towards the end of the series the children have a very interesting conversations between themselves.

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I think that quote hits on a central issue of how people work. When something bad happens (perhaps we have a spat with our spouse or something at work goes awry), our brains scramble to make sense of the event. And we craft a story about ourselves that is not always right.  Dr Brené Brown challenges people to ask themselves, “What story am I telling myself?”

When we view our circumstances as series of unfortunate events rather than steps along a great journey guided by the hand of God, we choose to tell ourselves a false story.  But instead of viewing our circumstances as out to get us, to can tap into God’s story for our lives. So what story will I let define my life?

Story 1 – God is not with me.  He is ignoring me.  He doesn’t care about me?

Story 2 –  God is for me. He in arranging circumstances for a great future, enacting His kingdom as it is in heaven.

One person who had the opportunity to determine his story was Joseph in the Old Testament.  When circumstances went as bad as they could go and Joseph was sold into slavery, he had the opportunity to choose how he interpreted this event.

Story # 1:  God has forgotten Joseph, ignored him for over twenty years, so it was up to Joseph to take matters into his own hands.

Story #2: God is in complete control and placed His servant, Joseph, in that position with intention. God would use those circumstances to empower Joseph to rescue an entire nation.

It is clear which story Joseph chooses to interpret his life events when he tells his brothers (the same ones who sold him into slavery): "You intended to harm me, but God meant it to save us."  In other words, Joseph chose God’s story for his life, despite incredibly challenging circumstances.  Joseph’s situation had not changed. Facts remained the same and time had not sped up or slowed down. Pain and anguish were still present. The only thing that changed in Joseph was has his perspective.

Unlike Joseph, I have found that my perspective can ebb and flow depending on my circumstances. Some days are easier than others. And I often feel out of control.  It feels that I'm in a story I don’t get to write .

Yet I have come to understand one truth.  I might not have chosen much about my life. I didn't choose my biological family. I didn't choose my name. I didn't choose where I would be born, what language I would speak, or what color skin would cover my body.  But I do get to choose my perspective. I can choose what story to believe. I can choose how to interpret the events of my life.

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One thing that helps influence my perspective is something I have learned from the least of these. When people return from a mission trip one of the most common observations I hear from people who have returned from a mission trip -

"They were so thankful."

"They were so happy with so little." 

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One of the happiest places I have visited on earth is the Down Syndrome Association in Guatemala City.  This was a surprise for me because these were children caught in drastic circumstances, born with down syndrome, in an impoverished country, with little to no resources to help them.  But despite all these challenges, they are happy.  They laugh.  They smile.  They dance.  They tell jokes.  I walked away thinking those were the most grateful and happy kids I had ever met.

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But you can go to any of our programs around the world and you will see the same thing.  Walk into the largest slums on earth to Patmos, and linger in their smiles. Spend a day with our orphan graduates in any of the Eastern European countries we serve, and you will hear laughter. Try to not smile as the children of Gan Sabra (many of who are terminally ill) pray for you. Somehow, these children are overflowing with thankfulness. They get it. They have chosen the right story.

The amount of joy that mission trip participants discover in children with difficult circumstances shocks them. How can people with so little be so happy?  How can kids with no families be so thankful? That's actually easy to answer. Those smiles are the results of gratitude, of thankfulness, and telling the right story.

You see these kids, who have suffered more than most of us can imagine, prayed and God answered. God sent the program. God sent Orphan Outreach. God sent you.  They are thankful. They are telling themselves the same story David tells himself in the Psalms 138 “I will give thanks with my whole heart…. For the day I called, you answered me.”

What story are YOU going to tell yourself?

Today I ask you: what story are you going to tell yourself?

Here are some practical ideas to get you started in telling the right story:

- Count your blessings. Literally. Make a list of all the blessings God has given you.

- Write a summary story that become words to live by. Every morning wake up and read these words to live by. "Today is the day the Lord has made.  I will rejoice.  This is a gift.  And I will live it to the fullest.”

- Learn to pivot. The one thing we can learn from politicians is the skill of pivoting. So when I hear myself telling the wrong story, I will pivot mid sentence to the right story.  For example "I can't believe this traffic is so bad ...but thank God  I have more time to listen to podcast. “

What story do you want to tell yourself?

 


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