When You Want To Change Your Story

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Last week I spent a few days in London, and one of the highlights was going to see Matilda The Musical, based on the book by Roald Dahl.  It was an amazing performance, but one particular part has stayed in my mind ever since.

Matilda has a bad start in life.  She is extremely intelligent, but born into a family who fail to appreciate that, and constantly look down on her and belittle her.  In the song “Naughty” Matilda reflects on other characters who have been victims of their stories: “They never stood a chance; they were written that way,” and she determines that she is going to be different.  She is going to change her story.  I’ll include a video so you can get the full effect of the song, but here is the part that has been stuck in my head ever since:

“Just because you find that life’s not fair,
It doesn’t mean that you just have to grin and bear it.
If you always take it on the chin and wear it,
You might as well be saying you think that it’s ok,
And that’s not right!
So if it’s not right,
You have to put it right!
But nobody else is going to put it right for me.
Nobody but me is going to change my story.
Sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty.”

In the musical, Matilda goes on not only to change her own story, but also to change the story of several others because of her willingness to stand up and fight against things that are not right.

In many ways she’s a great example- she refuses to be a victim of her circumstances but is determined to rise above them- and it’s an inspiring story.

But it also left me thinking that it’s not so straight forward in real life.

I think in all of our stories there are probably parts we’d like to change, but there are so many areas where we are just not in control.  Illness, accidents, difficult family situations, tragedies… these may be part of our story and there is nothing we can do to change that.

And if we’ve been stuck in a story where, like Matilda, we’ve been treated badly as a child, it’s unlikely, in real life, that we would have the strength and confidence to stand up against it as she did, or even have the awareness in the first place of it not being right.

But fortunately, I also disagree with Matilda on one important point- her declaration that “Nobody but me is going to change my story.”

I like how The Message puts 2 Samuel 22:25: “God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.”

I realise we’re getting into complicated territory here because the Bible also says in Psalm 139:16 “You saw me before I was born.  Every day of my life was recorded in your book.  Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”    I don’t want this post to turn into a discussion on predestination and free will because there are lots of other people far better equipped than I am to deal with that.

But God is writing a story and within that are each of our individual stories.  Ultimately God knows where the story is going and how it will turn out, but at the same time we have a choice about whether we let him write the story, and about whether we step up and play the part he is asking us to play.

When we accept that God is in charge of the story- that he is the author- it’s as if our story changes.  The events of the past don’t change, but the direction of our story does, and we find ourselves in places we would never have expected.  Often we also see how God can work good even from those difficult events in our stories.

If you consider some characters in the Bible, their stories could have ended very differently  if they had not decided to let God be the author.

Joseph would probably have spent the rest of his life working as a slave in prison.  Instead he rose to power as governor of Egypt and saved the lives of a whole nation.

Moses would probably have lived a quiet and uneventful life as a shepherd.  Instead he led the Israelites out of slavery and into freedom.

Zacchaeus would probably have spent his whole life seeking money- growing richer and richer as a tax collector, while being hated by everyone he cheated.  Instead he changed his ways, became generous and put right the wrongs he had done.

No matter what direction the story is heading in, there is always hope that it can be changed, that things can be turned around, that the ending can be different.

None of our stories are going to be perfect in this fallen world.  There will still be difficult and painful aspects to our stories.  It doesn’t mean every situation is going to end happily.  We don’t have Matilda’s power to put everything right.

But fortunately, by sending Jesus, God has already done everything that is necessary to change the direction of all of our stories.  I’m glad we don’t have to do it by ourselves- I know that when I’ve tried to change the direction of my story by myself all I have done is make a mess.   But if we give God the pen and let him be the author, we know that, despite the twists and turns in the plot and the trials we face along the way, the story is going to end well.

In fact, no matter how well or how badly our story began, we are headed for the ultimate happy ending!

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And if you’d like some more happiness in your story today, I’m pleased to announce that Jennifer Dukes Lee’s book “The Happiness Dare” is available to purchase from today!  I have loved being part of the launch team for this book and would definitely recommend it.  I wrote some more in a post here, you can take the free Happiness Style Assessment here and you can order the book here (UK) or here (US).

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          purposefulfaith.com        Holly Barrett

 

 

 

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22 thoughts on “When You Want To Change Your Story

  1. I love story! I use it frequently as an analogy when I write and when I speak life into my sons, I use story as a reference. God is the Author and once I established that in my own life, the bigger picture became clearer. Your words today remind me again that even though I have choices because God gave me free will, He is the Author and Keeper of my story and the plan has been laid out. Thank you for sharing Psalm 139:16-one of my favorites and the verse from 2 Samuel was spot on. Blessings and hugs!

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    1. Thank you, Mary. I love story too, and it does make everything clearer when we can see God as the author of our story and trust him even with the bits that are difficult or hard to understand. Blessings and hugs to you too!

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  2. What a good post! To write our own ending does mean knowing why the story has out grown it’s truth. Therein lies the hard work. It is so worth asking hard questions and being ready for new answers.

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    1. Thanks, Gabriele. Changing the ending does mean coming to a different understanding of the story and where it is going. It is hard work sometimes. I’m just glad God is in charge of it all and we don’t have to figure it out by ourselves.

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  3. My goodness! I didn’t know there was a Matilda musical- the book and movie were so beloved by me. They still are! Going to have to look this up- and thank you Carly for calling out the truth of the matter that God is the author. Recognizing that really does change things. Thank you!

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    1. I’d definitely recommend the musical if you get the chance to go and see it. I think there’s a touring production in the US as well as it being on Broadway, though I’m not sure of venues for the tour. It does change a lot when we recognise God as the author of our stories.

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  4. I like the way you tied His promise to a story today, leading us to see things in a different light. I also love that verse in 1 Samuel you shared. Thank you for reminding us of the providence of His live as He uses mercy’s pen to write the story of our days… for which I am truly grateful.
    Blessings,
    Dawn

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    1. Thanks, Debby. Yes, knowing God is in charge of the story and knowing how it ends definitely brings peace and security in the ups and downs along the way.

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  5. Carly … thanks for the reminder that although there is much we cannot change, we do have a whole bunch of choices on how we’ll respond as we move ahead. Your wisdom is sure and solid, friend. I am glad to visit with you today!

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    1. Hi Valerie, London was great! I was just there for a few days so only got to see a little bit of it but I loved the musical, and Hyde Park is really beautiful. I’d definitely recommend a visit!

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  6. I love story too, Carly. I appreciate that you share the optimism of Matilda’s story, but also the reality that we can’t always change our stories as easily as the world tells us. I’m so thankful that God is the author of our stories, and He knows how to write the redemption aspects of our stories.

    Beautiful post!

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  7. Carly – I love this post and the theme of story in our lives. The verse you shared is beautiful: “God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.”(2 Samuel 22:25). I think of God’s story as The Big Story, and my individual life is a small piece, a thread He weaves into the bigger story. Glad we connected today!

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  8. This is a profound post, Carly. I couldn’t agree more with where you headed with it. As the Message version puts it in Luke 9: 24 “Self-help is no help at all.” I know that for me, I’d most likely either be dead or still in a deep, deep pit if it weren’t for God pulling me out when I finally turned to Him. That’s not to say we don’t have the free will to decide to turn to Him, but it does mean like you say that He can write joy into pain, hope into despair and peace into fear. Thank you for these beautiful words.

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    1. I like how the Message puts that verse- I don’t think I’ve heard that before. It is just scary to think how our stories could have turned out without God changing their direction. I love how he transforms things.

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  9. I loved the video clip! What a gift, London!

    There’s a whole lot of choice involved in changing our stories, but the power to choose and change, and the inspiration to even try – and the ability to keep on, and all of it – it’s Jesus. I’ve been remembering the past few days all the ways he has stepped into my story. Sometimes I don’t even see until I look back, and then I realize, “oh, it was him. There he was.” I’m so grateful.

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    1. Harmony! It’s good to hear from you! London was great and I agree, we do have choices to make in changing our stories but it’s not something we can do on our own. I also think it’s true that even when it’s hard to see at the time where God is in our story it’s often clearer as we look back.

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