Telling better stories about ourselves to ourselves

Dec 02

“Tell me a little about yourself?”

His question was innocent, normal, and not unreasonable. But I heard familiar voices rising quickly rising from inside, all writhing in discomfort.

I stammered. Talking about family, work and writing in stilted terms. The impression couldn’t have been good – this professed man of words had so few words to say. And I rarely do, like a rookie boxer who keeps his hands at his side, I’m not certain of when to duck or where to stand.

Talking about myself is never clear. Do I exhibit feigned humility or is there genuine fear when talking about myself? Am I afraid the truth – the hidden self will come out despite my best attempt to keep it hidden?  Am I so afraid of pride, that I pretend to be disinterested, just so others will think of me better?

Yes, it’s not easy. No, it’s not easy. I don’t even know whether to agree or disagree.

I’ve had similar conversations with God. “Tell me David, about David.”

When he asks questions – those hard questions like he asked Adam, how do I answer?

“Where are you?, Adam” was less about the GPS coordinates of the Garden of Eden and more about the location of his heart.  By asking Adam where he was, he was asking about who he was.

Marlon Hall recently posed this challenge at a recent retreat that I attended. “We need to tell better stories about ourselves to ourselves.”

baby mirrors.”

It starts with seeing me like God sees me.

“Beloved.”

“Forgiven.”

“Perfect.”

Those aren’t easy words to swallow, given the pig stalls ’I’ve slopped.

Those aren’t expressions I would expect to hear from the inside of a whale’s belly.

Those aren’t  terms I would describe myself considering the wildernesses I marched, rebellious head held high until beaten down by the sun of shame.

But the story – my story – is His story. And that’s the only one that needs to be told.

36 comments

  1. amen and amen. my heart is buzzing an echo of this David.

  2. A wonderful reflection and a pleasure to read. Love the line which says my story is His story and a reminder that that’s the only story that needs to be told.

  3. This is so good and such great thoughts of what Marlon said. Thank you for sharing this with us!

  4. Interesting thing happened David. When it came up in Feedly it had a picture of a man (you I am guessing from years past?) When I clicked on it the picture was of the child kissing the window. i agree with what you say here David. I could really get down on myself for some past stupidities but I can look into the mirror and say, “forgiven. Beloved.” I am forever grateful and that is my story…and I’m sticking to it.

    • That’s not the younger me! That’s the current me. Glad you are sticking to your story. If we believe the lei, where would be?

  5. Where, who, what, when, None of those questions are as important as why. That’s the piece of Marlon’s presentation that I’m still carrying with me.

    • That was really powerful too. We spend so much time on those peripherals, when all God is really concerned about it our character.

  6. There’s a great freedom, isn’t there, in giving simple honor to the subjective story that if nothing else, is – at very least – my own? In observing the world not from atop an intellectual ivory tower, proclaiming every mountain and valley, but from the limited perceptions of these two eyes? In giving voice to what only I can see? And calling it enough.

    Calling it HIS.

    Yes and amen. Thank you for this, David.

  7. Yes. Marlon, Mark, and the music all reminded me of why I am here: to be beloved, to be HIS and to allow HIM to make our messes masterpieces. This piece is a gift, David~ thank you.

  8. David – This resonates with me a lot. I tell myself all kinds of stories about myself. Some are actually true. But rarely do they start where they need to. “Charity is deeply loved by God.”

  9. Years ago I read the book _Write to Discover Yourself_ by Ruth Vaughn who wrote that she kept this question in front of herself and revisited it over and over as life evolved: I WHY?

    Why am I on this earth? I am here…why? She used that to construct a general vision statement for her life, but the specifics would shift from time to time as she grew into new life roles. The basic core answer to I WHY stayed the same.

    Who am I? Why am I? Critical questions to ask in the light of Truth.

  10. Yesterday, I remember thinking, “Gosh, I’ve been home just one week.”

    It made me cry, and I’m still trying to figure out why. Thank you for this, David.

  11. Well that was good. His story is the one of redemption in His love for us. My story was written in the same dust as yours, David. Which makes His story the greatest story ever written. Literally.

  12. This is a challenge for me too, David, yet it’s something I work on with my patients constantly. Marlon gave us some good words, didn’t he?

  13. Thank you, David, for this! I need reminded over and over again. But the Good News is that it’s actually true! Our Daddy wants us to believe we really are Beloved, Forgiven, and Perfect. That is definitely hard for me to swallow too.

  14. Marlon’s words struck deep cords with many of us, I think. I’ve been trying to articulate that at my place and the dude’s–and not doing such a great job, I think. And the Word incarnate in us that helps us live out our why… I’m still trying to grab onto that–to tell better stories about myself because my story is His story.

  15. Our story is an incredible one! Each and every one of us. If only we want to belive it and tell it.

  16. Dust to dust.. we’re in it together!

  17. Our story is an incredible one! Each and every one of us. If only we want to belive it and tell it.

  18. Some of the best stories in the Bible are of those most wildly broken and extravagantly redeemed. I’d rather hear and read a story with some spice to it; wouldn’t you?

  19. Great thoughts, David. God calls us to walk humbly and confidently (at the same time) wherever we go. His image should reflect in our actions and attitudes.

  20. David,
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts; it is encouraging how God uses our stories, all of it….Marlon’s words hit a deep chord and i am still trying to process it…blessings :)

  21. Keep on, David.

  22. I’ve heard someone say that we need to spend less time listening to ourselves and more time talking to ourselves. And I think this is similar wisdom. The truth is powerful but we have to speak it to ourselves in order for it to beat the lies.

  23. Good words to ponder David. I agree, we need to tell better stories about ourselves to ourselves. Great thought.

  24. Love this. Thank you. I love you’re writing David. So succint, So honest. I get you’re heart. When I was a church planter, I remember meeting with other pastor’s wives once a month and we would have to say things about ourselves, things we were good at. Without fail, those that knew me would speak up for me to finish what I didn’t, they didn’t think I was fair to myself, I thought I was humble. But now I know that humble isn’t thinking less of ourselves, it’s just thinking of ourselves less. :) I can’t wait to read more here at Red Letter Believers. Thanks for sharing your heart, I write about similar things. -Julie (julieluse.com) Eyes Wide. Heart Deep

  25. David, There were so many amazing posts written after the retreat, (and, of course, I wrote not one of them!) I’ve had a hard team keeping up with them all. Glad I finally found my way over here to read this one. These are words which keep echoing in my head as well.

    And, there’s also that big question of Why?

    Good stuff happened that weekend. It’s still happening, I think. Thanks for this.

  26. Wow! I really like identify with these words. Why must it be a daily struggle to see ourselves through His eyes?
    SharonB recently posted…A Desert JourneyMy Profile

  27. So, as you know, Lelia just linked to this post on FB. I missed it originally. Anyway, I just wrote out a list of better stories to tell myself about myself. It was a good exercise.

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