Over the last 18 months or so, I’ve been trying to read and work my way through the book “To Be Told” by Dan Allender. It’s a book that explains that our life is a story. Knowing facts about a person may be good (I’m 5’8”, blue eyed, my bald head used to be blond, and was born in Iowa) but that doesn’t tell you what I’m really like. But if I tell you a story about how I used my budding leadership skills as a teenager to convince a group of teens to bury the front half of a new Cadillac in cow manure at the State Fair, that gives you some insight into my personality.
Story is how we relate to each other. Dan says that if you look into how your story has already been written, look for the common themes in your life, you might just be able to see how God has written you into His larger story. Dan invites us in his book to look at our life with all its joys and sorrows, wins and losses, celebrations and failures, laughter and tears, and then to “co-write” the rest of your story with God. We are not passive characters in the story of our lives, we are active participants. God has a plot-line all figured out for our lives that is interwoven with other characters, family, friends, coworkers, and total strangers.
What I’ve come to realize though is that things don’t always go the way the plot was originally planned. It has been that way since the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve’s fall. Just like in their story, we have an enemy that wants to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10a). An enemy who wants to disrupt God’s storyline for us. He doesn’t have to attack us directly either to redirect God’s plan for us.
So many times for me (ok, read that “most of the time”) I look at the plot twists in my life and blame either myself or some other person. But, I’m learning to redirect that blame to the real enemy, Satan, and his minions (Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.) and praying with the authority that Jesus gave me as a believer to change the enemies influence and damage.
As I’ve been reading “To Be Told”, I realized that for many years I had already been putting into practice the first half of what Dan talks about; looking at my past with all its twists, turns, pains, joys, failures and laughter. I have done this through professional counseling, a program called “Oaks of Righteousness”, some intense and intentionally deep small groups, and Christian Boot Camps (Ransomed Heart and E6 Ministries). I was intentional in each one of these to look back and bring God into the pain in my past/present so He could bring clarity and healing.
To get a feel for how all this has changed my life, you’d have to know some of my story to get the full impact. My natural bent is to be an introvert. I did not feel like what I wanted or thought mattered and hated confrontation. The result was that of a self-defense mechanism. I became a people pleaser, a chameleon who could hide in plain sight. I was a poser living out most of my life as a character who was hoping to meet the expectations of others. I lost connection with who I was. I was always trying to live out a role that I thought I would not offend anyone. It was a life lived in fear. Fear of being exposed as not enough. Not enough of what I’m not sure, but I had very little if any self-assurance or self-esteem. I looked at home wherever I went on the outside, but inside I was scared that I’d be exposed.
I could look good in a suit, cowboy boots and hat, or black leather and bandanna riding my Harley. I fit in with blue collar factory workers, bikers, and corporate executives. For years, I wore what I referred to as “corporate camouflage” in my white collar job. I did not want to stand out. I wanted to blend into the background, like the chameleon image that I embraced. As new believer in my 20’s I found Proverbs 17:27-28 and hid behind it. (Proverbs 17:27-28 The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered. Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.) I found that if I listened more than I talked I could at least not be thought too much a fool. I was sure that I didn’t have anything of real value to share with the world. Who cared what I thought or wanted my opinion? No one, is the answer I heard in my head.
Now, because I’ve taken Jesus back into the story and themes of my life, I’ve gotten a significant amount of healing in my life. I no longer believe that I don’t matter, that my thoughts are unimportant, and that making everyone else happy is my responsibility. While I still can “fit in” pretty much anywhere with anyone, I’m doing it as myself. I’m not posing. Confrontation is still not something that I’d say I’m comfortable with, but I can do it from a place of strength because I do matter. I wish some of the things in my life would have been different, but I wouldn’t be the same person that I am without them. I also wouldn’t have the same compassion I have for people. I like the person that God has shaped me into as He’s rounded off some sharp edges and brought healing to my heart and mind. Has it been easy? Nope. Has it been quick? Not even close.
If you find that there is something about yourself that you don’t like, there is a way to change. Significant change is possible with the help of the Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit and time. You may stumble… stick with it and get up. Don’t be surprised, Jesus told us in John 16:33b “…In this world you will have trouble.” Remember you have an enemy who doesn’t want you to find healing and that enemy is not a person and it’s not God. Will it be easy? Nope. Will it be quick? Not likely. God is not concerned with efficiency like we are. He’s committed to the outcome, which is our changed/healed heart and a character that is being molded to be like His Son’s. You are unique and God’s plan for your redemption is just as unique. There is no 5-step process to being more like Jesus and the person God has created you to be. Is it worth it? Absolutely.
I’m still not finished with the book, but then again, God’s not done with me yet either.
Pray Hard, Play Hard, and Live Well