The Stories we Tell

My heart is bursting today with the birth of my best friend’s daughter. And earlier today, I spent time with great-grandpa – who at 94, has had a longer twilight years than most.

Spending time with great-grandpa has got me thinking a lot about the stories we tell. Grandpa’s memory is failing, and so in any period of time visiting with him, I may hear the same story many times. About his darkroom. About the squirrel outside his window. About his love and learning of the Chinese language. I love them all.

Then there are those stories whose truth (however far from reality) are told by the teller –  the “blacks” that moved into his old neighborhood and changed it, the health that changed with the fall from a ladder.

It’s easy to judge a man at the end of his life, but the truth is, I’m a story-teller too.

I write, name things, put labels on the world around me. Often, I get praised for it. For telling a story that others are feeling. For naming something. But there is also a dark side of story-telling.

This past week one of my sons has been particularly cantankerous. We’ve asked him when he turned into a moody pre-teen. I’ve called him grumpy – many times! And though this is definitely my truth as I see it, I’ve realized that this label may not be the vision I want to create.

For in calling him, labeling him, grumpy – he may define himself that way. And then, my truth become his truth. And ain’t it hard to find the joy when you keep remembering the moments when you are grumpy?

Because the stories we tell about the past and the present – they definitely impact the future.

Now I want to take a minute to give a disclaimer here. I’m not talking about the hard truths that need to be told – the ugly stuff that must be brought into the light. Or the friends or family that need to be confronted with love.

I’m talking about how we characterize our life – and the labels we put on it and those around us.

Like a woman with failing memory, I tell the same stories again and again – only mine reside deep within my head and subconscious.

I’m an angry mom.

Health is something I need to work towards.

I need the approval of other people.

And the more they replay in my brain, the more truth they hold over me.

Each summer I work through the book “Your Heart’s Desire” by Sonia Choquette, and use the workbook to try and discern my goals and focus for the coming year, in all realms of my life. Sonia talks a lot about identifying those stories and myths that we tell ourselves – and reframing them. She states that change follows intention.

I believe that too.

Mantras, beliefs, memory verses. Language has power. Stories define us. And I get to change the story.

My son feels deeply.

I’m a calm mom.

I’m enough.

God is greater.

At the end of your days, how do you want to define your story?


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