I read an article in The Atlantic called “Why Obama Is Standing by the Syrian Refugees.” The tagline was “The president isn’t speaking to his opponents—he’s talking to history.”
President Obama is fighting this issue and according to The Atlantic it’s “because of the way he interprets American history.”
From FDR to Kennedy to Bush to Obama, “Every president tells the story of America’s past to justify the policies he’s pursuing in the present.” The Atlantic gives the examples of George W. Bush’s story of “American being roused from its complacency by external danger.” On the other hand, “Obama tells the story of American history differently: as America overcoming the evil within itself.”
I’m not here to talk politics. Instead, this article got me thinking on the stories we tell ourselves. We have the same history of our country, yet we can have very different perspectives based on our interpretation. Kind of like the church. And like life itself.
The stories we tell about our past and the way we interpret history, will largely determine our present and future stories.
When you look at your history, what do you see? What battles have you won and lost? What lessons have you learned that shaped the filter of how you take in your world? What wounds and blessings have you acquired that changed your trajectory?
We are greatly shaped by our past. Our past can determine our future for better or worse if we’re not aware of the glasses through which we view life.
Brené Brown calls this changing your narrative. If we are not aware of our stories, our stories will write us and not the other way around.
I love what Brené Brown says:
Are you wondering if writing a new story is worth the fear, courage, time and emotion it will take to face your story head on? Brené writes,
“I’ve learned that writing a brave new ending in our personal lives means:
We can’t smooth over hurt feelings in our families. It’s too easy for stockpiled hurt to turn into rage, resentment, and isolation. We must talk about it. Even when we don’t want to. Even when we’re tired.
We can’t pretend our family histories of addiction and mental health issues don’t exist if our hope is to write a new story and pass that legacy of emotional honesty and health down to our children.
We must own our failures and mistakes so that we can learn and grow. It’s hard but I’ve seen how it becomes part of a family and organizational cultures and unleashes innovation and creativity. It doesn’t feel comfortable, but courage rarely does.”
Writing a “brave new ending” is hard, challenging, emotional and requires great courage and grit, but it’s worth it. Otherwise, the stories we tell ourselves will continue to write the script of our lives and sometimes that voice is vicious if it’s never been tended to.
Friend, as we move briskly from Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Years, let’s be intentional about our stories. Emotions and tension and stress often run rampant during the holidays. But don’t let the past dictate the present. This doesn’t mean an awkward Thanksgiving meal will magically become comfortable or a stressful Christmas will automatically become picture perfect.
What it does mean is you can be equipped to enter into whatever awkward, stressful or emotionally charged situation with freedom. Because you’ve owned your story and are working to rewrite the ending, you can face uncomfortable truths to prompt change.
Like Brené says, “Facing our stories takes courage. But owning our stories is the only way we get to write a brave new ending.”
What stories about your past are shaping your present and future realities?