It's funny where you find inspiration, as I've mentioned before (see previous post). This past weekend it was in an auto parts store. I heard a familiar voice telling a familiar story that stopped me in my tracks. The light bulb that went off was two-fold: 1) We become so tied to certain narratives, 2) Most people fight a daily battle we know little about.
I have interfaced with a lot of people over the years being in sales. It's amazing the stories people will share the first time they meet you. One man in particular explained to me at length how miserable his ex-wife was, how hard it was to raise a kid alone, and what the process looked like coming out of a hard divorce. It truly was a sad story, and though I was grateful for his honesty and empathized with his pain, I sensed at the time this had become his identity. His past suffering was his present reality, a deep bitterness and cynicism that affected even the way he described the other parts of his life.
As I walked the aisles of a local auto parts store this past Saturday, I overheard a conversation between a customer and the cashier. It was the same man telling the same story to a complete stranger of how miserable his ex-wife was, how hard it was to raise a kid alone, and what it was like being divorced now. He even threw in a story about how he got ripped off when he bought his truck. In the time it took him to check out he had already delivered his sad narrative.
It's a track on repeat to anyone willing to listen. My heart sank as I wondered if every single day this was the story he told the world, and more importantly, himself. We have a lot of power to shape our reality, even if it's just our perspective. If we don't actively take a position to focus on what's positive, we will certainly subconsciously do the opposite, as I see this man unknowingly doing.
Philippians 4:8 says, "...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."
We are prone to look back, to bask in our failures, to criticize, to harbor bitterness, to judge, to complain, to miss out on beauty. If the narrative we keep telling is anything but what Philippians 4:8 says, let's get rid of it. There's a season for grieving and healing, but we are called to greatness.
I know now more than ever that most people are dealing with something. Every single day is a battle. I pray for the man I ran into this past weekend. I pray that he would ditch the narrative he's telling and find the abundant life that's offered. I pray that for myself and you, too. It's far too easy to be the exact same every once in a while.