WRITING YOUR STORY AND CHANGING THE ENDING

Your story needs to be told

Everyone has a “I don’t believe this is happening to me” story. The story that makes you feel as if you are drowning, not even sure if you will survive. The experience that has sucked the air out of you and made you feel as if you are going under. This is your journey.

YOU NEED TO FIND YOUR STORY

Sandra Marinella writes: “When things happen that are unexpected, unwelcome, challenging, disorienting, or traumatic, we survive, but the storyline we were following is shattered. Untold stories don’t go away; they morph into volatile emotions, into flashbacks and anxiety, into behaviors we don’t understand in ourselves, things we wish we didn’t do — lash out, hide, avoid, get depressed, become lethargic, unable to go on. Untold stories cause ruptures in relationships, ill health, and spiritual or religious crisis, and contribute to a growing sense that our lives are disintegrating into chaos.” You need to find your story.

WRITING FOR NON-WRITERS

Why not try writing? Maybe you’re not a writer. You don’t have to ever show anyone your writing, and it will still work on your heart and mind to reorganize your life. Maybe you don’t have time for this. Ten minutes a day? Really? That’s way shorter than a Facebook minute. Possibly it’s scary to think of putting your life-breaking moments into words. This is your safety net. Are you ready to live a more resilient story? You can get through a crisis. You can survive grief. Repeat: find your story.

THE SAGA OF JANET

A key is finding the place that lies between our hopes and reality.  For example, let’s share the saga of Janet. She is the parent of 2 adult children, Sandy and John. Janet had always imagined that she would have a close family where her adult children deeply loved Christ and nurtured that same love within their own children, Joyce’s grandchildren. She imagined Sunday dinners, like a scene from the TV series “Bluebloods”.

However, Janet’s reality is that she has 2 adult children, only one of whom she feels even remotely close to. As for sharing a same love for Christ, that isn’t even on the table at this point in her children’s adult lives, let alone if they actually provided Janet with grandchildren. The only Bluebloods family dinners she experiences is if she watches a family of actors on TV. Janet’s heartbreak is daily and drains her from finding any joy. Could Janet rewrite her story?

FIND YOUR PLACE AND STYLE

  • Begin by finding a comfortable spot to write. If you want, bring your water bottle, coffee, or tea.
  • Choose a journal, notebook, or computer.
  • Forget about rules — grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Just plan to write.
  • ​Choose a prompt, put your pen to paper (or your fingers on your keyboard), and write for at least five minutes. If you write more, congratulate yourself! If a prompt fails to connect with you, try the next one.
  • Write as often and as much as you dare. Give it your best.
  • ​Then reread and reflect on what you have written. You may be surprised at the stories or thoughts you hold within.
  • ​Work to develop a personal writing practice that works for you. Every writer is unique, and by finding how you write best, you will grow your words and your voice.

This Week’s Writing Prompt: The Tragic Gap

Start by creating “tragic gap statements.” Do this by writing one or more statements that follow this form: “I want to…but I can’t because…” Here are some examples: I want to move, but I can’t because I don’t make enough money. I want to be an actor, but I can’t because I suffer from anxiety when I try to perform. I want to undertake a new challenge, but I can’t because I believe I am too old. Choose a dilemma you are facing. After you write this statement, answer these questions as best you can: What is your dream? What obstacles are making it hard to accomplish your dream? How can you face this challenge? What can you change? Open and close each writing period in prayer.

Freely borrowed from: Sandra Marinella. “The Story You Need to Tell: Writing to Heal from Trauma, Illness, or Loss” Highly recommend this book!

IS THE INEVITABLE ACTUALLY EVITABLE?

Hopelessness does have to be your deadend.

It’s no use.  I didn’t succeed before.  Nothing’s changed.  Why should I expect anything different? It’s inevitable. All of us have at one time or another had those thoughts run through our hearts.  It might have been for an hour, a day, a week, month, or even years.  There is nothing that Satan would like more than to convince believers that there is no hope. That is often a major component of depression.

HANNAH OVERTON’S STORY

Hannah Overton had given up hope. Her story is beyond “compelling” (a little nod to the podcast company).  Falsely accused of killing her 4-year-old foster son, Hannah was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.  This mother of six had to transition from being a homeschooling mother of six to being a resident of a maximum-security prison.  It became her new home address for seven years.  So many times, especially at the beginning, she was filled with resentment, depression. She became suicidal.  Most would think she was entitled to exiting this painful life. 

JOSEPH’S STORY

That’s probably exactly the same thought that tempted Joseph in the Book of Genesis when he was betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused of rape, became a prison resident, and given a brief glimpse of hope (which was quickly shut down).  He spent thirteen years before the tide changed.

GOD NEVER FORGOT HIM

The most important thing about Joseph’s story is that even when he was in darkness, God never forgot Him.  That is the reason why day in and day out, even in the most challenging circumstances, Joseph behaved in a way that honored God.  He didn’t resign.  Joseph chose to make God the ruler of his life, rather than the slave owners and the prison warden.  He decided on hope.

GOOD OUT OF BAD?

The Joseph’s attitude is found in Genesis 50.  In a miraculous chain of circumstances, h rose to be the 2nd most powerful man in Egypt. Upon the death of their father, the brothers who had sold Joseph into slavery so many years ago were afraid that Joseph would seek revenge on them.  Joseph’s response to his brothers’ terror is, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you?  You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.”

ANTIDOTE FOR HOPELESSNESS

A life-preserver is only of use when a person grabs on to it and holds on for dear life.  The Savior can only save those who grab hold of Him and choose to keep holding on. The central attitude adopted by Joseph regarding the betrayals of his brothers was, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.” (Gen. 50:15-20) He chose to cling to the best antidote to hopelessness: God’s truth. That is eventually the same decision that led to Hannah not taking her own life while in prison. She held on to God’s faithfulness, even in the midst of great darkness.

THIS WEEK’S CHALLENGE

Challenge for this week – start taking regular time to develop God’s viewpoint on your current circumstances. I have found planning spend a day without any electronic media – no Facebook, TV, movies, YouTube, no world news, etc. is extremely helpful. It’s a vacation day for your spirit. Take time to carefully read, listen and reflect on His Word and let it saturate your view of your personal circumstances.  Here are a few passages that might be helpful: Psalm 91, Psalm 31:3-5, Psalm 34:17-20. Write down those verses that speak to you and try to commit them to memory. Hopelessness does not have to be inevitably permanent.

Please let me know if your spirit’s vacation day helps bring some light. It might be the rest your soul needs right now. Both Hannah, Joseph, and I have found it extremely beneficial. Break the chain of thinking, “Why should I expect anything different? It’s inevitable.