What Story Am I Making Up?
Recently, a friend told me about a quote she heard on a podcast by Brene Brown. She said, “What story are you making up?” It took me a second, but then I began to understand what she meant. And it hit me. I make up stories all day long. Instead of living in the what is, I live in the ‘what might be,’ especially when it comes to my family. Since our daughter came home to us in 2011, I have parented in a style that anticipates everything: her needs, her desires, the possibilities of what might happen. A counselor once called it ‘lawnmower’ parenting…clearing the way of anything she might encounter that would be hard. As a kiddo who is likely to experience hardship in some areas, I’ve just assumed that she would and I’ve tried to parent defensively for things that may or may not ever occur. I’ve become a master at anticipating her needs before she even has them. And I find myself trying to live out of a reality that hasn’t even happened (and most likely won’t!). It has affected my relationship with my husband and his relationship with her. The fact is that I don’t trust anyone with her story more than myself. We’ve got some healing to do and it’s starting to happen. This whole concept…What story am I making up?...has given me insight into my own motivations for doing something, particularly when it comes to family life. What am I trying to avoid? Prevent? Engineer? Maybe more importantly: Why?
You know those moments in your life when you hear something or see something that make you reconsider everything? This has been one of those for me. God has been using this one line to challenge me in deep ways. What are my realities and what are the things I’m making up? When I live in made up stories, I am living out of fear. Fear is the robber of joy. And I don’t want to spend the next years as a parent who does what she does out of fear, and therefore bereft of joy. I think there is a time and place for fear. We don’t step out in a busy street because fear keeps us from doing something that would directly harm us. But as a Christian, I either have to believe that God is Sovereign, or He’s not. I either trust Him with what the future holds, or I don’t. Trust, for me, is the opposite of fear. And it’s not something I do very well, with anyone, and especially with God. It’s much more comfortable for me to spend my life making up stories that I need to fix, manipulate, engineer, and plan for, rather than trusting God with all of the outcomes. But it’s much more exhausting.
The other night, I was talking through some of this with my husband and he said, “Can you trust God with our family?” I had to answer, “Not entirely.” But I’m working on it. And I’m trying not to try so hard and let change come as His Spirit slowly, gently, turns my will toward His. He is so much more trustworthy than any plan or any person.
Did you see ‘Inside Out?’ This is definitely one of my favorite Disney movies of all time. I love how, at the end, joy and sadness find that they have to exist together. Both/and. It’s so much the story that God has written in our little family. There is so much loss and brokenness, AND there is so much redemption and healing. How would we know one without the other? And the other emotions all have a place within the human condition. But it’s also that the five emotions inside Riley’s brain simply deal with life as it comes. They watch life unfold and respond as needed in the situation. I want to be more like this…trusting of the process, trusting of my God, and trusting that I’ve been equipped with manna for today, no more, no less than what is needed to love, live, and respond in grace to the stories in my path.
Thanks be to God.