Story is the vehicle we drive as we travel through the events of our lives. By it, we take on passengers who champion our point of view. Through it we decide how much baggage we'll carry from destination to destination. We decide the make, the model, and the seating capacity. My question to you? What car are you driving today?
To push this analogy further; some of us are drivers in our tale, and some are passengers. We either drive the narrative, or we allow someone-something-else to determine our destination. We craft our lives from snippets of stories. The ones our families tell, and the ones we tell ourselves. And that story line defines us, whether we like it, or don't. How we respond to those events, those stories, determines the trail we adopt in life. Maybe you've heard the saying, "our lives directly result from the thoughts we think and the actions we take."
Defined-But Not Controlled by the Story
Naturally, we can't change our history. It's there, written in the pages-what our great grandparents achieved, what our grandparents faced, what our parents created. In the same way, whatever you have faced and endured happened. No matter how we try, there's no way to undo, redo, or erase any of it. Sure, we can ignore it or make believe it didn't happen the way it actually did. But, deep in our gut, we know the truth.
For that reason, it is important to look at the record that brought you to today. The assignment? Face it squarely, honestly, gracefully. Our history is the rear-view mirror. It's important to check it from time to time, but if you always look behind you, you'll never reach your destination.
Does Your Story Have You Stalled?
Consider that it's easy to hold judgment against someone or something that wrecked our story until we learn a bit about their story. And that doesn't mean what they did or didn't do was right, or ok, or appropriate. For instance, until I knew and understood some of my mother's story, I couldn't let her off the hook-forgive her. And as long as I was wrestling with that hook of forgiveness, I couldn't get free. And that's just one chapter.
As long as you can't forgive (as hard and as impossible as that might feel in this moment), the story controls you.
How to Control the Story Line
Simply, a story line is the plot, action, or story. Traditionally, a wonderful tale has these basic characters and elements:
- mentor or guide
- resolution of the conflict
But here is the most important thing we have to remember, you can't be the hero AND the victim! The hero may have been a victim of a situation, but a genuine hero can't have a victim mindset, or they won't win the day. The victim doesn't drive the fast car in the chase scene.
Once you and I have the courage to look at the past for what it is, then we have to make the choice to either be a victim, a villain, or a hero. The choice is 100% yours and mine. Regardless of the situation, despite the damage done, without masking the pain the situation caused, there comes a time to decide which character you intend to play-driver or passenger.
Is It Time to Trade Up?
Imagine for a moment, you can go to the car lot and choose ANY automobile and it is yours! It only requires that you leave behind your current automobile.
"But wait!" you say. "I drive a classic! It's worth a lot. You can't just replace something like this with a new model."
My question to you is, "Is that vehicle serving you, or are you pouring your life into it just to maintain it for one more day?"
Listen, I'm not a car enthusiast, and what we're talking about here is MUCH more valuable than the car you drive to the grocery store. We're talking about your life.
But just like people draw first impressions of our status by the vehicle we drive, people draw conclusions based on the stories we continue to tell.
Is your constant story about how horribly you were treated, or about how the Lord gave you strength in the darkness?
Do you choose to major on how alone you feel, or recognize there were-are people who crawled in the car with you, and simply loved you in the silence?
Are you living with the dents, missing fenders or leaky fuel tank, for the sake of clinging to the past? Then again, maybe your story has broken down by the side of the road and left you there, struggling to decide if it is worth the effort to go on.
The Car That Brought Me Here
In 2012, just before Richard's diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma and Renal Cell Carcinoma, we traded in a gorgeously kept silver Hyundai Santa Fe. But it concerned him it was getting too many miles on it and he didn't want me stranded somewhere. So, we traded it in for my dream car: a black Chrysler 300. That was in June. In July he broke his arm and we discovered cancer was the cause.
As a result, that car became a chariot to transport Richard back and forth to doctors, hospitals, and cities across the state. It was a thing of beauty. Leather interior, heated seats, auto start, auto lift tailgate. It ferried us and our belongings to Dallas and back more than once. I was thankful for that black beauty.
But in 2015, after our move to Fort Worth, I was driving at least once per week, sometimes more, to Dallas. And, if you've ever driven in Metroplex traffic, or something similar, you know what it is to drive in highway construction with drivers weaving in and out for a good lane position. It can be nerve-wracking. And I had enough on my nerves. Plus, my dream car had developed a slight "weave." We took it to a shop, but they couldn't find the problem. So, we traded for a golden-brown Jeep. Without heated seats, without auto start, and without auto lift tailgate. And Richard got a lifetime repair warranty, just in case.
Honestly, I'd love that Jeep to be red. I'd love if it didn't have memories of the last months of Richard's life written in the back seat as I drove him, wracked with pain, to doctor appointments. But it is also the Jeep we planned adventures in. The vehicle we took to Cameron Park and talked about kayaking. It has 34,000 miles and a lifetime warranty. It is the vehicle I'll drive for a long time. It serves me. It carries me forward. It holds my memories, but it is also filled with the hope and possibilities of adventure. I think Mercy and I will take it camping this summer.
My Other Vehicle...
Sitting beside my Jeep is Richard's 1995 GMC Sierra 1500. The battery is dead. It hasn't really been driven in over a year, except to our friend's repair shop.
We bought it just before the cancer returned to Richard's spine. He was proud to own a pickup again. HIS truck. It needed a few minor repairs, but it was his.
Today, I don't know what to do with it. The battery needs charging. It's a year past inspection and registration. My grandson wants it when he turns 16 in October, but he needs a job to pay for the insurance and small car payment. His dad isn't sure if it's something they should do. The thought of getting it ready for inspection and registration exhausts me. The idea of selling it to someone else hurts me.
This vehicle doesn't serve me. I have to decide what to do.
Drive the Thing...
Well, here you are, about to embark on the next leg of your journey. And today, you get to make a new decision. Will you hop in the passenger side and let life carry you along? Or will you grab the keys and drive your life-create your own story-reach a destination you care about?
Unfortunately, there are no simple answers here. Life is not a Jack Kerouac novel about the open road. Likewise, it isn't a Rascal Flatts ballad singing "Bless the Open Road" as the score for your life.
But this I know, you never walk alone when you trust the Lord to guide you.
Isaiah 30:21 Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left. New Living Translation.
And, if you want some flesh on travel companions along the journey, join us in the newly reformed Facebook Group-Living At My Best.
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