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Remembering the Right Story

Remembering the Right Story

Recently, Jay and I were discussing what an acutely difficult year 2020 had been for a close friend of ours. With lots of guilt, we both admitted that 2020 had been fine for us. We’d been spared so much of the loss and instability wreaked by that year. The option of busyness was taken from us, so we were able to turn inward toward each other and our boys. We were given glorious permission to go into full hermit mode and probably still haven’t fully recovered our pre-pandemic social graces. But that’s an issue to unpack another day!

As the conversation continued, we began retracing the reality of the 2020 we had actually lived. We chuckled as we started rattling off all the intensely, heinously hard parts of that year: Maintaining a nonprofit and full-time staff through global financial insecurity. Wrangling two hyperactive sons during months of virtual learning. Watching my dad contend with a rare and aggressive cancer. Canceling dozens of speaking events and sweating a little over the lost income. Shifting our beloved Hope Heals Camp to a virtual format. Navigating some intense marital conflict. And, for the grand finale, ending 2020 with a serious fall that required major surgery on my blown-out ACL, MCL, and meniscus.

Yeah, our 2020 had in fact been pretty wild and rough too.

This walk down a rocky memory lane is a microcosm of the lesson we’ve been learning every day since my stroke:

  • the facts of what happened to us matter far less than the way we remember what happened to us.

Remembering well allows us to renarrate our old stories and, in so doing, anticipate a more hope-filled future.

I’ve lived an exceptionally hard story, and maybe you have too. But for me, it would be irresponsible and untruthful to just call my story a bad one. My life is bearable because I’ve decided to identify the truest story — the good, the bad, and the ugly — and tell it in the most beautiful way I can.

Telling my redefined story isn’t about denying the hard facts of my past. It’s about unearthing all the treasure I can find in the darkest places of my life.

What about your story? We’re all historians narrating the story of us to us, but the amazing thing is we have the option to redefine the hard parts of our stories. When we cling to the tragic details and most depressing plotlines of our lives, our brains expect tragedy and depression in the pages to come. But when we choose to narrate our stories with complex beauty, nuanced grace, and constant gratitude, our brains can begin to anticipate goodness ahead. Re-narrating doesn’t erase the bad stuff, but it does reveal our uniquely human capacity to find hope in every chapter. What can you remember well today? What is the truest version of the story of your life?

For me, responsible remembrance has become a bit of past-changing magic that gives me the grace of distance. It opens up space for gratitude and perspective to redefine my past, present, and future. The past is a fact, but the way I tell my story is a choice.

If it’s true for me, could it be true for you too?

When I choose to tell the true story of my past, I can anticipate goodness in the future.

Excerpted with permission from Treasures in the Dark by Katherine Wolf, copyright Katherine Wolf.

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Your Turn

How do you remember your story? How do you narrate your story to yourself? Is it through the lens of the redemptive work of Jesus in your life? You and I have really hard parts of our pasts that can either be the big, negative highlight or redefined in Jesus. How might you need to reframe the facts so that you can expect the goodness God is bringing in your future? ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full