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My Story…

June 8, 2010

What was the last movie you watched?  I watched Robin Hood the other day with a friend, and I really enjoyed it.  It had a captivating story with characters you could fight for, characters you wanted to kill, and characters you felt compassion toward.  My heart has a soft spot for British accents and battle scenes as well, so I guess that didn’t hurt either. 

The point is we are drawn to stories that have meaning, and recently I have been thrust down the rabbit hole into Wonderland to examine my own.  I truly believe that in 10, 20, 30 years I will be able to look back on the past couple of years of my life as exceptionally pivotal, and during this season of uncertainty two books have spoken to my heart in a way that I never could have guessed or prepared for.

The two books are, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, by Don Miller, and, To Be Told, by Dan Allender.  I wish Dallas Seminary would make these required reading for all graduates, and I am deeply grateful that these books found their way into my hands.  Thanks Matt!  I guess Vicky should blame you!

But it is not enough to simply read books that shake your world.  Books like these require action.  Allender writes:

As our reality is named, we are moved to ponder the implications of our story, but we can’t stop there.  We must also ask and be asked:  What will you do with what you’ve written?  If it moves you, will you move?  And if you move, where will you go, what are the risks, and how will you know when you’ve arrived?  Most of us don’t invite a community of friends to know our story deeply enough to meaningfully engage the question, ‘So what?’  The result is that our story, often our life, fails to move with integrity toward transformation.  We will never change unless we risk action.  We will never change unless we act in accord with the trajectory of our story.  And friends who are good editors invite us to take that risk.

Thus, I am standing at the proverbial ledge, deciding if I am going to jump or just lean forward until gravity takes over.  I do know that either way I am going to end up with a perspective different than the ridge I presently stand on.  It is an exhilarating and terrifying feeling!

What I want to do today with this post is invite you to begin to examine your own story, and to engage with me as I write, reflect, edit, revise, and live my own.  I am going to take a break from the writings on the Sabbath, as this is priority for the time being, so if you actually are following that I apologize for the hiatus.  I’m guessing there aren’t any tears being shed over that last sentence.  I also want to apologize for those readers that don’t really know me.  This may seem like I am being self-absorbed, and there is an aspect of health self-absorption here, but there are also some readers out there that know me well.  I ask you to comment, poke, prod, and edit if you like.  Know that even if you don’t comment on the blog I am coming for you regardless.  Over the next month or so I am going to be calling upon those of you that know me well to strike through, change verbage, and spellcheck my life.  Hopefully, this exercise will force you to question your own existence, and will give you a structure on how to go about it.

So, on with the writing…

…Don Miller had a post on his blog the other day that lead me to define my core values.  To find your core values he said you have to identify what makes you angry.  As a therapist I know that anger is always a reactionary emotion with a deeper emotion behind it, so I asked the anger question followed by the, “Why am I angry?” question.  Here are the values I came up with (in no particular order):

  • Justice:  I get angry when I think about the oppression and exploitation of the weak.  I find myself drawn to stories of the underdog, and I hate it when the wicked prosper.  I am angry but beyond that I am saddened and afraid.  I am saddened because I view myself (rightly and/or wrongly) as an underdog.  And I am afraid because I sometimes question the motives of God in the midst of so much injustice.
  • Beauty:  I get angry when beautiful things are marred.  Not long ago I saw a 20/20 episode or something where this amazingly beautiful girl had acid thrown on her face because she had broken up with her boyfriend.  The violence essentially removed her face, and stripped her of the physical beauty God bestowed upon her.  I also get angry when the arts mock beauty, whether in film, photography, or music.  The sexual relationship of a husband and wife, for example, is one of the greatest examples of beauty God could give us to highlight his communal love for the world.  Pornography, some chick flicks, and much of rap music spit in the face of such glorious beauty.  But beyond my anger I am disgusted by my own perverse heart.  I morn the dark recesses of my soul where I have sprayed my own graffiti over God’s beautiful creation.
  • Nature:  I get angry when I think about the oil spill in the gulf.  I get angry when people pollute.  I get angry when animals are tortured for sport and profit.  I get angry when the rainforests are depleted.  But beneath my anger is great sadness.  I long for the day when Christ redeems the break between man and nature.
  • Redemption:  I get angry when broken people are forgotten, given up on, cast aside, and pigeonholed as hopeless causes.  I get angry at myself when I have such a tendency to give up on people.  I get angry when God seems as though he won’t intervene miraculously.  But beneath my anger I am helplessly grateful.  I am grateful that God didn’t give up on me.  I am afraid.  I am afraid of a just God even though I long for him to redeem this broken world.  And I am afraid of what my redemptive heart asks of me.  It is so much easier to stay stuck in my anger…
  • And finally Authenticity:  I get angry when people are hypocrites.  I get angry because I have a deep scar on my heart where I was violently marred by a two-faced, controlling, and prideful friend.  I get angry when I search my own motivations and words to find that I am a deeply hypocritical person that speaks more from self-preservation than truth.  But beyond my anger I am hurt and heartbroken. 

These 5 values define me, yet they also direct me to act.  Now that I know my core values I can begin to read my past story more accurately.  I can begin to understand, through the stories, how these values were shaped, and I can begin to dream of how these values are going to be lived out in the present and future.

So, what motivates you?  When someone asks you, “Who are you?” what will you say?  How will you respond?  Read your story.  Examine your life.  Perhaps you feel “stuck”.  I am guessing it is because you are in a place where you aren’t living out the matters of your heart – your core values.  It is time to prepare your mind for action.  Won’t you join me?

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