We humans are story-telling machines. We tell them about ourselves, and about those around us. We use the power of words – the good, the bad, and the ugly – to paint a picture of who we are, and who we expect others to be.
We tend to live into the expectations that others have of us. When I was a kid, I got a reputation for being a weirdo free thinker. I got made fun of constantly, both by other young people and by adults. That was all the encouragement I needed to really dig into all sorts of unpopular thinkers and causes. I became a radical because they told me I was one.
This didn’t always lead to happiness. Quite the opposite. I spent most of my childhood on the margins of my social circles. I was an outsider, first because I was told that I was one, and eventually because I chose this role for myself. The story was just too strong for me to escape its gravitational pull.
As I grow older, it’s easy to see how reactive and self-defeating all of this was. I let the words of others shape who I became. Their story became my story, and it hurt me. But now I know that there’s another story to tell – a deeper one that doesn’t rely on the praise of my friends or the taunts of my enemies. It’s a story that springs up like living water. It’s the story that God’s Spirit is telling within me. I’m finding a solid place to stand in the midst of all the competing stories of this world.
What’s the story that you’re living in? Who told it to you, and why did you believe it? Is there a deeper story that you’re being invited into?