Tag Archives: narrative theology

Training for change: “The Show about Me” part III

conversation is not about you

I use the word “training” here, because if I used the word “discipline” it would be an immediate turn off. You may just click away in a huff or something. I’m tip toeing around for you this time.

Discipline has a “dirty word” feel to it now, right? We seem to associate it with pain for the sake of gain, or something too hard, or bothersome. Really, a disciple is a person in a training mode, learning, and absorbing things meant to improve him and his life.

This post is the third installment to deconstruct and renovate our lives that have taken on the “personal reality show” traits. This default setting we have to center our lives around our desires, wants, needs, and shortcomings, keep us stuck. Gone is the life-giving existence that comes from understanding that Reality is the realm of God–It’s not about us. We are invited into a richer, deeper Story that isn’t gained or lost with our successes or failures. God is the Star of the show, and it’s his Story. This is a life lived in the realm of peace/shalom. Lay your burdens down, friend.

You may have some ideas in mind of what life looks like once this changeover has been made. I’m hoping you’ll share your ideas about it. I’ll 5 ways a person lives out a greater Story, and maybe we can all learn something.

When you live the bigger Story…

1. You regularly  make and keep unlikely friends.

You don’t see people as tools for your own purposes, or to satisfy your desires and needs. No one is beneath you in the social strata, because you can well see that it’s not your story, but God’s. God’s Story includes all people, so you do too.

2. You regularly give to those who cannot repay you.

(Volunteer) Your actions stop being about personal gratification and getting ahead in some way. Giving freely punctuates this idea. You realize that generosity is life-giving in its own right, and it’s a win-win situation.

3. You shut up more, ask questions, and wait for the full answer.

Talking with people isn’t about saying something, being heard, or pitching some kind of agenda. It’s about the other person. You ask questions to know better, to understand better, and you give up the selfishness inherent in small story communication.

4. You stop self-promoting.

Making sure others see you in a certain light doesn’t balloon anymore as a thrust of your interactions. Sharing has nothing to do with making yourself look good, or impressing people. The self-centeredness is gutted from your words and actions, making life about something far bigger and better than you.

5. You listen.

In small stories we listen to get an edge. Sometimes what we call “listening” is really just pausing briefly out of some rudimentary convention, so that when we speak, we can be better heard (but only because we aren’t literally talking over someone). It boils down to merely “listening” for a chance to speak; but this is not genuine listening. When we listen, we change. The interaction makes us somehow different than we were before.

If you train with these 5 ways of interacting and seeing Reality in mind, it will give you no choice but to improve your life as you yield to a bigger Story.

Share your thoughts…

(Change the channel or take a walk?) “The Show About Me” (part 2)


One of the most common responses people have when they get fed up with the re-runs of living their own small show is that they try to flip to a different channel. That is, they somehow realize a kind of radical change in life is necessary, so they try to re-make themselves.

Perhaps they start a new relationship, change careers, adopt a baby, buy a vehicle or expensive toy, go back to school, get plastic surgery, switch churches, move away, or in some way try to live out a better story. You’ve probably tried it, I know I have.

Maybe a person gets into religion, or he gets away from it. Maybe they start to need anti-depressants or anti-anxeity medication. Some abuse substances or live more dangerously. Something just seems wrong–and one tries to fix it.

Plenty of the time, these efforts do bring some distraction and change, and therefore a certain kind of freedom or renewal is felt (at least for a bit); but down deep, nothing important has changed at all. After a little while, the person still feels frustrated or undone. (Or something else unpleasant.) The channel may have changed, but what is lived out is just a Spin-off of “The Show About Me”. Sadly, very few fully realize that their perceptive, and how they live out reality, is fairly the same even after a massive change. The same troubles will assail them, in some way. However, the baggage gets heavier.

Our Creator is the true center of the Show (not us). The Supreme Being is irresistibly calling out, wooing us, and our thirst deepens.

It’s a fact that when a person is too dehydrated they may actually stop craving what they truly need-water/hydration and replenishment of nutrients. They may feel tired, ill, hungry, or numb, instead of thirsty. In an ironic twist, the person doesn’t desire what will make them healthy again. It’s a perilous situation. Without help, people die this way.

This kind of confusion happens spiritually too. Often, in fact. A common (household) term often used for what turns out to be a spiritual problem like this is most often called a “midlife crisis” or sometimes an “identity crisis.” It’s common for people to get a point where they need to “find themselves,” or re-define themselves, sometimes multiple times throughout one’s life. This “want to” to change is healthy, though many times misread. An identity shift like this may happen once or several times in one’s life where a person tries hard to better one’s circumstances, and find relief.

If you haven’t enter a stage like this yourself, I’m sure you can think of someone who has. For instance, in the last 18 months seven marriages at our church have spun out of control or failed. I believe a misunderstanding of this spiritual opportunity is a big reason why.

What must happen to be truly free, and on a full path to growth? Something more like a walk has to happen rather than a small show we create. A walk with God and changing one’s perspective to surrender to God and “his” Big Show (the authentic one “Reality”) is a path few take, or attempt for all that long. It just isn’t a simple or smooth road. It is a mysterious, sometimes troubling one, where the answers are rarely simple or pat. This is the path of faith (believing in what you can’t see, but still know is quite real). Sometimes changing the channel, multiple times, seems like the only sensible thing to do. The negative part is that we only get more of the same when we do that. It’s still our story we want to control, and our story stays small and frustrating.

As many who have done the enormous personal work to recover from drugs or alcohol can attest, one usually has to hit “rock bottom,” (or be fully ready), before surrender to a new, and bigger Show occurs (a life centered in God’s Reality). It all starts by doing something very rare and counter-intuitive. It’s something we all fear: Losing control and Humbly yielding to the Higher Power, and admitting that without grace, and true dependence on God and others, a better way cannot be possible. Perhaps the scripture comes to mind, …”if you try to save your life, you’ll lose it. But if you lose your life (yourself) for my sake, you will find it…”

In contrast, we wish to be self-made.… yet, only a small show about “me” is self-made. Transformation, growth, and sturdy happiness (joy) comes instead through the bravery of surrender to the greater Reality, and taking the more treacherous but rewarding path that comes with this decision.

In part III installment on this topic, I’ll mention some things that happen once this pivotal choice is made. A person’s attitude and outlook change; and how one orders one’s life undergoes critical and unavoidable development with radical shifts in thinking, acting, and relating to others–for the better! We’re talking here about spiritual formation.

I’ll describe that a bit more, soon, in part III. Check back in the next few days and see.

This is a lot to chew on, especially if this is a new concept, and you’ve never encountered these ideas before. Some people call it “being born again”…. and in a real sense, a new life starts for the person who is ready: A whole new life begins.

…to be continued…

Reflections questions:

Have I been living my own small story?

Have I longed for a richer life, but have really only being encountering re-runs or spin offs of a short-changed Show?

What is stopping me from walking a new life?

What are your responses, insights, or thoughts on this topic?

Powerful dramatic performance by amazing youth

My church’s youth drama club did this performance on Sunday. What a special youth group we have.  . .Such a blessing. I watched it with a big lump in my throat. The journey may be hard, but Jesus and his love prevail.

Please post your reactions or responses.

Cosmic Hope

(a personal reflection from Gospel Virtues by Jonathan R. Wilson)

Cosmic Hope: For all times, for all places, and all people, and nothing can take it away.

This idea “hope as story” is not sourced in a human story.

It creates the circumstances by which we may endure, and serve each other. (not a will to power)

It is found in community, personally, with Person, and eschatologically.

It is transcendent…

 Strangely enough—It can be started through worship.

How might you define it?