What is the story you tell yourself? We all have a story that plays in our head, a story about why we are the way we are, and why things happen the way they happen. This story impacts how you feel about every event in your life, and how you think about yourself. Change the story, and you change your thoughts. Change your thoughts and you change your actions. Change your actions and you change your feelings. It’s a domino affect on your entire life, beginning with the story you tell yourself.
This morning when you alarm rang, you immediately began telling yourself the same old story you always tell yourself about mornings. If your story is mornings are hard, you always struggle to wake up on time, and you can never make yourself get up, then the morning had no choice but to go the way you tell yourself it should. Struggle is your reality because of the story you tell.
Here’s how I know it’s true. If you had set your alarm extra early this morning because you were leaving for a vacation of a lifetime, your butt would have gotten up with no problem when that alarm rang. Different story, different thoughts. Different thoughts, different action. Different action, different feelings.
But, my guess is you weren’t waking up for the vacation of a lifetime, you were waking up for just another ordinary Wednesday. A Wednesday of kids getting ready for school. A Wednesday of the same old house to clean on a perpetual loop because it never stays clean. A Wednesday of tasks and chores and things you don’t really want to do. That’s a story that’s hard to be excited about, so excitement isn’t the feeling you felt and springing out of bed wasn’t the action you took.
Could it be possible in the midst of ordinary days to tell yourself a different story? A story of blessings and opportunities? A story of miraculous provision and divine intervention? A story of God’s fingerprints on every detail of your life and the unfolding of his good plans?
If you knew God had gone before you and aligned the most ridiculous surprise blessings along your path today, wouldn’t you want to wake up for that? If you knew within the first 15 minutes of your morning there was something so extra special being offered to you and the only way to get it is to wake up when the alarm rings, wouldn’t you wake up for it? YES, YOU WOULD. That’s why I wake up with complete ease, regardless of my time zone, no matter how well I slept. I know without a doubt God has something amazing for me when I wake up. I know he’s here to talk to me and guide me. I know he’s waiting for me. It’s the story I tell and my morning is different because of it.
In reality, isn’t waking up every day absolutely miraculous? Isn’t the offering of life crazy beautiful? Think of all you’ve had to survive just to get here. Holy balls, this is amazing! You want to be here for this!
The story you tell yourself changes the way you feel about every event in your life and how you think about yourself. Maybe if you stopped telling yourself you’ve always struggled and you always will, maybe you could see you actually have the power to overcome the very thing you’ve struggled with. Maybe you would see the way has already been made, the provision has already been aligned, and the victory is already yours, and it starts with the story you tell yourself.
HONEY, TELL YOURSELF A BETTER STORY!
This morning while starting my day, I was doing my typical a.m. routine of listening to an Elevation Church Podcast. The pastor was talking about Paul and his thorn. It’s a familiar story, but this was a twist on it I had never considered.
2 Corinthians 12: 7-10 “To keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Paul had something bad in his life. He called it his torn, but we don’t know what it is. Maybe it was a health issue, maybe it was a personal struggle, maybe it was a mental battle. He doesn’t tell us exactly what it is, because his focus isn’t on his torn, his focus is on what God wants to do through his thorn.
Maybe this is where we go wrong sometimes. We are too thorn focused. We talk so much about what is wrong with us, what we’re worried about and where we’re struggling, that all the power is given to the problem instead of the potential positive purpose. It’s the story we tell. Sad stories creates sad thoughts. Sad thoughts create sad actions. Sad actions create some darn sad feelings. Then we’re sitting in a puddle of sadness, self-creating the story we tell.
Girl, stop talking about your thorn. Okay, so you’ve got this problem. You’ve got this issue you’ve been struggling with. You’ve got this hardship that doesn’t seem to be going away. Now, what do you think God wants to do with it? How do you think God wants to work in the middle of it? Start telling a better story.
The author of this scripture about the thorn is Paul. Remember Paul has a back story. Paul wasn’t always this great crusader for Christ, writing holy letters and praying holy prayers. He was once the persecutor of Christ’s followers, hunting them down to kill them. He was a bad mamojamma up in here, doing some bad stuff. He has a record.
You think every time hardship came his way he didn’t think back to the things he used to do? You think every time he struggled he didn’t resort back to the former way he lived and replay how wrong he was? He couldn’t forget his past. It was always there. But, he made a decision to tell a better story.
What story would you tell yourself in Paul’s shoes? His past was dark and he had screwed up a lot of things. Now here he is trying to do the right things and do good, but he is continually burdened by this messenger of Satan that just won’t leave him alone. Would you tell the story of “well, this is what I get for what I did before.” Wouldn’t you tell yourself “God can never use me because of all the mistakes I’ve have made.” Wouldn’t you even tell yourself “God is punishing me, he is mad at me, and things will never be good for me again.”
That’s exactly what we do. We tell terrible stories, think terrible thoughts, create terrible actions, and then we plain old feel terrible about it. But the story you tell yourself can change.
Paul chose a better story. A story of God using this thorn for good. A story of God’s faithfulness even in his struggle, and God’s strength in his own weakness. As a result, he never stopped doing good. He never gave up in the struggle. He never sat in his pity party and let God’s blessings pass him by.
If you’ve been struggling to change something in your life, what story have you been telling yourself? Have you been discouraged by the story of ‘it’s just how you’ve always been, so you always will be’? That’s crap. Pure total crap. You are not who you used to be and you never have to do the things you used to do ever again. 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” Guess who wrote it … yip, that’s Paul again. A man who personally knows about becoming a new person and changing in every way.
What if God has been ready, willing and able to help you overcome this thing, but you’ve been telling yourself a story he didn’t give you? What if you’ve been blocking what God is offering now? Paul could have looked at this messenger of Satan which tormented him, this torn which God wouldn’t remove, and he could have told the story that it was his punishment and allowed the shame to sideline him from his purpose in life. He could have convinced himself that he wasn’t good enough to write these holy words we read today. He could have dismissed himself from the ridiculously good plans God had for his life. But he didn’t. He told himself a better story. A story of being made new. A story of God’s strength in his weakness. A story of purpose and power.
And Paul’s situation didn’t change. The thorn didn’t go away. The struggle was still there. It just didn’t stop him. He realized God was going to work through it, so he would work through it too.
It doesn’t have to completely go away for you to continue on. You just have to tell yourself a better story while you’re dealing with it.
God is for me, not against me.
He has good plans for me.
He is with me and will never forsake me.
He will use all things for good in my life, even what was intended for evil.
Nothing touches my life that hasn’t first passed through his hands.
He will move every mountain that needs to be moved.
If he doesn’t move the mountain, he will strengthen me to climb it because there’s something for me on the climb.
I am created for a purpose.
Nothing can separate me from the love of God. Nothing I’ve done and nothing I could ever do can change that.
Change the story sis. Why is this happening? What could God be doing here? Why has he allowed this? How could he use you? The story you tell changes the thoughts you think. The thoughts you think change the actions you take. The actions you take radically change the way you feel.
Lord, give us a better story.