The destiny of the world is determined less by the battles that are lost and won than by the stories it loves and believes in. —Harold Goddard
MY RECENT DAMAGING STORY
The autowala dropped me off under the halogen lights at the busy intersection. I had been feeling almost as helpless as the baby I was holding.
I was on a visit to get my child the first of his many vaccinations. My wife was still in the hospital recovering from the delivery. Her mother couldn’t accompany me either. Before leaving, the three of us (not the baby) had had a huge disagreement on how to get a day-old baby safely to the paediatrician’s.
After some mutually frustrating talk, I got into an auto with the baby. As the auto shot under streetlights and through traffic, words began to echo in my head –
“So sad you had to come all alone. Big, bad world you live in, indeed!”
“What a terrible start for a child like this! Hardly any support!”
As I tried to pay off the auto, I realised that you have to put the infant down somewhere (watch that neck!!) in order to pull out the wallet. Same goes for when you want to remove your sandals. I had not planned this trip at all. I should have asked for company. Yesterday.
In moments like these, instead of singing a love song to Jesus, my mind has this sad way of defining life with a dominant emotion or feeling. Pity and loneliness.
“Poor you! Strangers are helping the lonesome dad and the baby through the door!”
The thoughts kept going on until the paediatrician jabbed my son twice with tiny but deadly-looking syringes that managed to make him bawl and cry all the more. His cries surprisingly flooded my eyes with tears. What was wrong with me?! Why was I tearing up, sheesh what would the doctor think!
“Oh, the pain that the baby has to go through- poor thing you!”
Soon I was out of there, trying to find an auto in the night. Two years ago, I was living a bachelor’s life not far from Hinjewadi IT Park, where I was working. If you had then told me that in 2015, I would be standing at some random chowk in Marketyard with an infant in my arms who was completely, permanently “my” responsibility, I would have laughed in response and said– Dude, kuch bhi?!
Papa, kuch bhi story believe karte ho? [Image – Jean Joseph George]
And yet, there I was with my son in the streetlight-infiltrated night, feeling all alone and trying to find an auto yet again.
MY REAL STORY WITHIN THE STORY OF GOD
You may have noticed that I had been creating a story out of these events, voicing them out in my head and storing it all as a strong memory for life. What was the theme of this story?
Aravind and his son, all alone, going through the tough lot in life they had received.
Would you say that this theme is true and accurate?
At Marg gatherings, we have discussed the “Story of God” which is the Ultimate story-line of all history and reality as explained in the Bible. It’s got a theme too – God pursuing a people who don’t deserve Him.
God loved and pursued His people through Creation, Rebellion, Redemption and Restoration.
Our churches have also learnt that each person’s life-story fits within this broad and accurate Ultimate Story. If I had the sense or wisdom to think in those moments of loneliness and self-pity, I would have seen my life-story was actually one of being rescued from rebellion and tasting redemption and being restored to God himself. So, was my theme for that night, true? No. It is for this reason that my story-line was damaging to God’s purposes and ways. In other words, sinful.
I think I was trying to find solace in lies and wrong emphases I had cooked up in my head. That reminds me of my alpha-ancestor Eve who did something similar.
As a Christ-follower, I must not, should not and I cannot afford to meditate on life-stories that do not make Jesus the hero. Because our parts in His Story is the real deal.
I had felt sad and alone. No doubt. But I could have remembered that such moments were not to be wasted by focusing on my thoughts. I should have spoken out God’s thoughts. Maybe words like these:
“Wow, this trip is making me lonely. That makes me need God. This sad trip is a blessing.”
“Jesus, you’ve given me this situation so I can enjoy trusting you even in sadness and confusion. Wow, I love You!”
“God you’ve nourished my spirit for the last 8 years. You didn’t let me be destroyed in spite of my sins like complaining now, for instance.”
“You cleansed me from sins You hated so deeply, by letting go of Jesus, who loved me and gave himself up for me.” (Gal. 2:20)
“God, you loved me to the end so I could live like You – today.”
“You have supplied all that I needed (Phil 4:19,20). Money. Auto. No Rain. Paediatrician. Holy Spirit of God. All Systems Go.”
In giving me a child, God had given me not so much of a responsibility as much as an undeserved reward (Ps. 127).
Did you notice how my mind was so quick to make up a story with “Spare some pity for Aravind” as the theme, when the real theme was “It’s time to bring some fame to God by submitting and living like Jesus” (Rom 8:28,29) ?
Do you live out similar unhelpful stories in your head during stressful times each day?
Do you play “suffering husband/ silent housewife”?
Do you create ungodly stories of “righteous daughter of grumbling parents”?
Do you think you are a “silently suffering missionary/colleague/student”?
Do you feel you are the “only spiritually active Christian for kilometres”?
What do you do to get yourself out of damaging stories you tell yourself? Share your thoughts below!
If you keep telling the same sad small story, you will keep living the same sad small life. —Jean Houston