I love.a good story.
I have always been an avid reader, and I love how some of my friends tell such great stories. My friends Norma and Margaret are two of the best storytellers I know when it comes to sharing life experiences. They usually have me in tears from laughing so hard. There’s a real talent to telling a story.
What’s your story? You have one… about you and your life.
I have a story, too. We all do. And our stories have many chapters. My own story includes
- An early childhood filled with my dear Daddy’s PTSD and the ways that played out
- My mother’s nervous breakdown when I was 12 or 13
- A childhood rich in warm memories growing up my my hometown that was so church and community focused
- An eating disorder that started in college and leaked into a year of my post-college years
- Becoming a mother (my greatest accomplishment and joy!)
- The car accident and ordeal that nearly killed my late husband and cost him a leg
- My husband and his dad’s deaths at sea
- An extramarital affair that began less than a year after my husband’s death
- A couple men I have loved who professed to love me, but who–in my opinion–took advantage of my heart
Okay, let’s stop there. Other than warm childhood memories and the birth of sons (and raising them), I honed in on some of the not-so-pleasant parts of my story. I could have listed pages and pages of the joys and “UP” areas of my story.
I don’t know what your story is, but I am here to tell you: We ARE and ARE NOT our stories. Read that again.
One of the wisest life coaches I know, the wonderful Dr. Cynthia Bischoff, often talks about “up until now.”
What does this mean?
Well, speaking from a coaching perspective, when clients bring their stories to me and especially if they are parked in a self-deprecating mood, I take a page from the good doctor’s playbook and will often say things like, “Okay, that’s up until now. Now what?”
Here’s the thing: We ARE our stories, but we ARE NOT.
Yes, our stories and experiences DO shape us. We can’t dispute that. However…
Our stories do not have to OWN us.
Up Until Now…
Are you ready to flip the script? Parked too much in some of the ugliness of your story, both that happened within and out of your control?
I’m flipping my own script these days with a HUGE dose of patience, more rest, and clearing a path for new chapters. To say my heart aches over certain parts of my story that happened this year is a major understatement. But that is UP UNTIL NOW.
I may feel as though a brick is laying on my heart at times and I may beat myself up for choices made, but I absolutely refuse to allow the hurtful parts of my story to trap me. I often wonder if people sometimes look in the mirror and see their power as a chid of God and the wonderful parts of their stories or if they just see failure after failure.
Listen to me because I am giving you homework! See what you get for reading my blog?! Here’s what I am prescribing:
* Write down ALL the ugly parts of your story, and ask yourself these questions: What have I learned about myself? About God? How did He usher me through that part of my story?
* Write down 20 really wonderful parts of your story (because I know there are many!) and sit with them. Consider your accomplishments, and don’t be shy!
* Give those not-so-pretty parts to God. Just release them.
* Know that you can claim “up until now” and do a big reset.
We shouldn’t be ashamed of our stories. Our stories allow us to learn life’s lessons–hopefully– and to share those lessons with people who come into our lives who are going through something similar. We GROW through the good and the bad parts. Yes, we ARE our stories.
We also ARE NOT our stories!
Flip the script. Up Until Now…
And don’t forget: Give it all to God. Always.
Amy Walton is a certified life coach, grief coach, and yoga instructor, among other roles she lives under her company, Holy Grounding. She lives on the coast of Virginia with a rather large cat named Pablo and is plotting the next chapter of her life but leaning on God to establish her steps. Connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.