What’s Your Story?

This Blog is sponsored by Frameworks: A Biblical Worldview Initiative. Frameworks courses are online Bible classes that public school students can take for elective credit on their high school transcript! Learn more at http://frameworks.ncsaz.org.

Last week, I was watching a rerun of an old sitcom. The parents in the show had been out for the afternoon leaving their children home alone. When they returned, they found a mess. Trash littered the floor. Furniture was out of place. Something sticky clung to one wall. A vase was broken.

In shock, the father turned to the mother and said, “I can’t wait to hear this story.”

Stories and Reality

A story is a narration of events that can be factual or fictitious—real history or make-believe. In the sitcom I was watching, the father wanted to know what really happened, but he was wise enough to expect some creative fiction from his children before he got to the truth.

As long as there have been humans on the earth, we’ve been using stories to define our reality. Ancient civilizations created stories to explain where they came from and how the world works. Stories of gods, spirits, and mystical creatures helped people cope with things beyond their control. For instance, farmers learned to plant and harvest crops, but they also prayed to gods of fertility to help their plants grow. Healers studied the human body to aid the sick and injured, but they also developed rituals to ward off evil spirits. Though the gods and spirits only existed in stories, for the farmer and the healer they were very real.

What’s Actually Real

Stories were also told to provide models of behavior. Frightening fairy tales like Hansel and Gretel were told in homes to keep children from wandering off into the wilderness. Fables like The Grasshopper and the Ant provided moral lessons. Romantic stories like Cinderella assured listeners that if they kept being good and working hard everything would work out in the end. The characters in those stories weren’t real, but the lessons they taught helped people understand a complicated world.

Over time, myths and fairy tales gave way to scientific discoveries that explain much of what we see in the natural world. We’ve seen amazing advances in food production, medicine, predicting the weather, and keeping our families safe. And yet, there is still so much we do not know! So, we continue to create stories to explain and define our reality.

Everyone does it, even if we don’t realize we’re doing it.

Each of us has an internal belief system—a worldview—which directs our thoughts and actions. Our worldview is how we understand the world around us—where we came from and how we should live. Our worldviews are based on what we’ve experienced and what we’ve learned. They are made up of facts, feelings, and even wishful thinking. My worldview affects how I view reality—what I think is real.

But what I think is real and what is really real aren’t always the same thing.

The Truth About Worldviews

Most of our beliefs revolve around ourselves. It’s human nature to be most concerned about things that affect us directly. As I go through my day, my thoughts will focus on the weather in my town, the traffic on my streets, the work I need to get done, the friends I want to spend time with, what other people are thinking about me. You get the picture.

Too often, I make myself the main character of the story I’m living in. How I view myself will affect my beliefs about everything else in the story. And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who does that. What about you?

When you try to accomplish something and fail, which story are you most likely to tell yourself?

  • I’ll never be good enough to do this right. I don’t even know why I try.
  • My boss or teacher doesn’t like me. She’s always against me.
  • I’m doing a great job. It’s someone else’s problem if they don’t get it.
  • I didn’t succeed this time, but I can learn from my mistakes and try again.

When a friend doesn’t respond to your texts right away, what story do you believe?

  • She must not like me very much.
  • He’s so disrespectful. He doesn’t care about anyone but himself.
  • Did I do something wrong? Are they mad at me?
  • I just need to be patient. What I wrote wasn’t that important anyway.

What about when God doesn’t respond to your prayers the way you expected? What story makes the most sense to you?

  • I’m such a failure. No wonder God is ignoring me.
  • I must be doing this wrong. I need to have more faith or say my prayers a different way.
  • God is never there for me. I don’t think He even exists.
  • God loves me. If He doesn’t give me what I ask for I can trust that He knows what is best for me.

Seeking Truth in Our Stories

Any time we make ourselves the focus of the story, our view of reality is going to be distorted. The really real is so much bigger than me and my little part of the universe. It’s so much bigger than you, too. We need to figure out where we fit in the bigger story—the story that encompasses all of reality. That’s the only way we can come close to finding the truth.

Please don’t settle for the lie that what’s true for you doesn’t have to be true for me. Don’t fall for the line that everyone should have their own truth. Don’t get sucked into believing that it doesn’t matter what you believe. You can create your own story, but you can’t make it true. You’ll be no better off than the farmer praying to gods that don’t exist or the healer following rituals that cannot help.

Seek truth. Look for the bigger story. Spend time with the author of truth—God—and dig into His word, the bible. Let your story be the story of what God is doing in you and all around you. That’s a story the world needs to hear.

Janet Ruth is passionate about encouraging Christians to truly live what they say they believe. She is the author of Finding Your Place in God’s Master Story: An Exploration of Christian Worldviews.

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