Retelling Our Own Story
When we look carefully to see how God is working in us today, we invariably look to the past for guidance. What did we learn from this experience? Did the suffering help me or alienate me from God? Have I been grateful for the good things in my life?
All of these questions and their answers tell a story which is “our story.” However, sometimes that story is given to us by another and we often do one of two things with it. Firstly, we can accept the story or lesson as given to us by another; perhaps a parent or a friend tells us our own story and what they think we should have learned from it. Or secondly, we can refuse to accept our version of the story and instead play a “what if” game to see how our life might have turned out differently.
In the first case, we may find that someone else is defining our own lives and how we should react to an event based on what they tell us is our story. The dangers of accepting this approach can be obvious, someone tells us we are a failure because of one failure, we lose one battle and therefore, we are always a loser. You get the idea.
The second case is something which also affects many of us, what would have happened if I met this person earlier in my life, married a different person, had another career. We play the “what if” game trying to relive a life that didn’t happen. We only have what did happen to work with and how we interpret its meaning or direction.
When we look today for what God is Doing In Us, we can take another approach in reviewing the past. That is to “retell” our story. In retelling our own story, we don’t change the facts of course, but we can change what we learn from them. For example, telling my own story of self-reliance during my teen years, and how it changed my spiritual disposition, introducing some “lean years” in my relationship with God has had a surprising benefit.
In telling this story first to myself, I saw how I caused myself to induce some distance between God and me. Or at least that is what I thought. However in retelling this story and sharing it with others, it became obvious this was just a movement in my overall spiritual journey; a waypoint if you like, not a final destination.
We can also find our own story is retold by listening to others, their experiences can resonate with our own, giving us pointers to how God is “really” working in us all the time, even when we feel remote and distant.
Our willingness to retell a story, particularly our own story, requires an honesty that keeps the door open, and our heart opens to hear what is really going on. A closed mind precedes a closed heart, an unwillingness to listen, to receive the grace which is often waiting to be poured out.
Let us let the grace pour out this week by examining some of our own stories, and see where God has been working in us all the time. Just as the disciples the road to Emmaus, we just didn’t recognize Him.
They have been smaller,
And tentative at times.
And held their ground on occasions.
But always, they have included You,
Even if I wanted to head in a particular direction for a while,
They returned to a Compass Rose,
Correcting what needed to change.
At least when I listened for Your voice.
Reflection, Photograph and Poem Copyright 2020 Michael J. Cunningham OFS