The story I tell myself
I was speaking with a young couple on the verge of getting married and the subject of my marriage came up. The more I talked about the marriage I have experienced – and the wife I enjoy – the more grateful I became. My final assessment was, I am so blessed it’s crazy.
As I walked away from the conversation I began to think about how rose-colored my glasses seemed to be in that moment. Was I really being honest? Was I setting this couple up for disillusionment when they don’t feel that reality I described? God knows how many difficult seasons these 17 years of marriage have endured . Some of that has been basic life tribulation. Much of that has been my sin. A microscopic amount has been my wife’s sin. 🙂 During many seasons of difficulty I’ve not been so positive.
So why was I walking away from this conversation with such joy?
Was it because life is much easier right now compared to other seasons of life? Absolutely no. I won’t burden you with all the personal life details currently on the table, but I will tell you that I have had few moments in life more challenging than this one. (For the prayer motivated: the whole Patz family could use much prayer right now.)
Was I so positive because I happened to get lucky enough to land the perfect marriage? No. It has been a rude awakening to discover that there is no such thing as a truly compatible couple. Marriage is not about compatibility; it’s about commitment. And communication. And ultimately communion. You either connect with Jesus and get filled by Him, or you will be a black hole that sucks your spouse dry with expectations that only God Himself can fulfill. Marriage doesn’t work because two people are compatible; it works because two people do the gospel on each other.
So why was I so hot on my marriage – and my life – as I left that conversation?
Because of the story I chose to tell myself.
The reality of my life (and yours) is that I have had some very high highs and some very low lows. There has been sin and grace, hardship and deliverance. But God is the Author, and He does not write bad stories. When I start to tell my story with God, with grace, with redemption in mind – the whole thing sounds different. I get to choose the story I tell myself.
And so do you.
This is beyond positive thinking. You have to tell the right story, because your heart is going to follow the story you tell yourself. Paul got it right: “Finally, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
Go tell the right story.