Narrative

I opened up my Bible,
And I read about me…

-Steven Curtis Chapman, “The Great Adventure.”

There’s a story you tell yourself about yourself, a story that stars you as the main character, as the protagonist. This story is about you. And like every story, you try to predict the ending. You know what your character is after. You know what resolution will make your character go live happily ever after.

Your story is informed by all sorts of things. Mine was influenced by romantic movies, country music, and any number of sermons I’ve heard throughout my life. For example:

I try to stay honest, because I learned in a sermon once that whenever I’m dishonest, I’m trading my integrity for whatever dishonesty would gain me. And in my story, I want to be a person of integrity. Because in my story, I want to be the good guy.

I want to get married, because the stories in the country music and chick flicks and sermons I’ve heard tell me that being married is a good thing. It’s something the protagonist of my story would do.

I’m trying to get a job teaching because I want to make a good difference in this world. And making a good difference in the world is something that a good character according to my understanding of the story would do.

I write this blog because in my story, I’m an up-and-coming writer who will one day be famous and massively influential.

So what happens when we live outside of our stories?

I heard a story about a Catholic soldier in the US Military who had a bumper sticker made apologizing to God for what he had done for freedom, including unintentionally killing civilians. He’s Catholic, so part of his story is that good guys don’t kill innocent civillians.

But he’d already done it.

He lived inside of a story where he (the good guy in his own story) did something that the good guy in his story could never do. So he did the only thing that the good guy in his story could possibly do: he had a bumper sticker made apologizing for what he’d done.

We’re all the good guy (or girl) in our own stories. The trick is to learn what sort of stories we’re living. To learn if those stories make sense.

Some have said that Jesus is the good guy. That’s great, but we’re not Jesus, and we have a hard time living with the idea that we’re the bad guy in our own story. So we write our stories as people who were formerly the bad guys and had conversion experiences and became good guys.

The problem with this is that when we become the good guys, we look for bad guys, because in many of our narratives, there are bad guys. And what we do with bad guys is the subject of my next blog 🙂

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