We become characters in the stories we tell ourselves. This is the power of narrative.
The most powerful story ever told, the one that tells us who we really are, who God really is and where everything in the world is going, is the story of Jesus. We call this story the Gospel.
Unfortunately most of us choose to give less worthy stories greater authority in our lives. Why?
When I think about this question for myself I conclude that essentially I am an unintentional advocate for unworthy stories. I gravitate towards those narratives that are the easiest to hear and resonate with the most shallow aspect of my desires.
We know that we are made for something significant. That’s the energy behind our quest. We desperately want to know how to become “somebody” in the world. We thirst to know how to find happiness and peace.
We also watch a lot of television. The stories that stream into our consciousness tell all kinds of things about success and happiness and peace. These stories tell us that if we are smarter, have more money and have more power then we can buy things that make us comfortable, that people will respect us, and we will have the kind of life that we always dreamed of.
When we allow ourselves to be exposed to these kinds of narratives we are drawn in because in some way we imagine ourselves in the story. We identify with a particular character with a particular set of difficulties, dreams or personality.
Here’s the hard truth.
These characters are not real people and the stories they tell are incomplete. These popular narratives are sometimes even dangerous because they lay out a false version of reality where we (or the character that represents us) are the center of a small universe. In this universe we get what we want, we are comfortable and powerful and all of our problems get worked out in 60 minutes or less.
The story that informs every other story, the story of Jesus, points us to a different way. Jesus says that the only way you can find meaning is to recognize that you are not the center of the universe. He says things like, if you want to be first you have to be last. He says that true happiness comes from recognizing your own weakness. He says that if you pursue him with all of your heart, with every ounce of your energy then the rest of your story will line up the way that it is supposed to.
Here’s the amazing truth.
You are valuable. God made you with his own hands. He rescued you by sending His own Son to die in your place. This is the story that tells you who you are. This is the story that you should tell yourself when you get up in the morning and when you go to bed at night. May we become the characters in God’s story that He designed us to be.