Revise Your Life Story

Purple WritingI’ve been feeling a little blue lately, a little depressed about what I have not yet accomplished in my life, and its been manifesting itself in a lot of negative thinking–about myself and negative sniping–at the world. Not good. This is not the person I want to be. I’ve been trying to figure out how to turn myself around for several weeks now.

In a letter to a dear friend I finally identified the root of this discontent. Time. I want more of it. Just the typing of the words brought tears to my eyes. Good thing, that day, I had also read this, “How to Live a Better Life Story: The Power of Revising our Stories in Light of the Gospel,” by Rachel Marie Stone, on the her-meneutics blog.

In it, Stone writes about how we shape our lives by the words we use–phrases like: “I’m such a mess,” “I don’t have time for it,” and “It’ll never happen.” She argues that even if our lives have become “infused with pessimism, negativity, and hopelessness” (that’s been me these last few weeks),  we can “edit our stories and change our lives in the process.”

One of the ways I’m doing that is reflecting on my “story” here, in my journal, and when I write to my friend. This type of reflection allows people to both edit and reframe their stories in a more positive, yet still realistic, light.

Another method Stone shares for rewriting our stories is to revise and edit the things we say in our heads throughout the day. She says we need to be less violent and more gentle with ourselves. We don’t have to do anything, like go to work. We choose to go to work. I choose to go because I love helping the young people in our school who are striving to turn their lives around. I also choose to go because I want to help relieve my husband, whom I dearly love, of the burden of being sole breadwinner for our family.

I think about the things I have been saying in my head, things like, “Your novels will never sell,” or “All that work was just a waste of your life.” Or in the morning, when I’m dressing–“You are fat, and it’s hopeless. You had better just get used to being that way.” Would I ever say that to someone I know and care about? No way! I love encouraging people. However, I’m afraid I’ve looked in the mirror or at the scale and said things that cruel to myself on a near daily basis–and not just about my weight.

Here is another quote that nailed me right in the heart.

…as Hanna Rosin pointed out in a post on Slate’s Double X blog, saying  (my emphasis) that we’re so busy perpetuates our own sense of busyness and feelings of being overwhelmed. Our negative self-talk becomes the storyline we live by.

I’m tired of feeling like I’m running and running and getting nowhere.

Stone ends claiming Christianity gives people a different story. My faith tells me we are all deeply loved, cherished, children of God. It tells me we are gifted and blessed, and that our God has good plans for each of us, all of his children, believers or not. And we have the hope of heaven. Eternity. It’s funny I have been fretting so much about time when actually, I will never run out of it. I must admit, I had forgotten all about eternity these past few weeks.

And so, this Lent, I am committed to remembering and embracing the concept of revising my own story. (Goodness knows, I revise my fiction often enough.) I am “fasting” from making snitty little comments, I am committing to editing and rephrasing the negative self talk that pops into my head, and I am going to look for the good and the valuable in each moment instead of wallowing in remembrance of other things I desire–like publication of my fiction or to travel the world, because actually, come to think about it, right now is pretty good.