This post has taken a while.
It’s been kicking around in my head for a couple of days and I’m still not sure that I have the right direction to begin it, but there is nothing but to begin.
Let’s start with a pretty popular statement. I have often heard, and my children have often been told to “Be the Hero of your own story” and to “Follow your Bliss”.
Some parts of this empowering set of statements sound just great to my human ears. But there are a few questions I’d like to ask before taking these statements in as my personal principle: What do they say about truth? What about everyone else? And what about God?
The man who originally made these statements famous, Joseph Campbell, spent a great majority of his time examining religion. I studied many of his theories and those of the men who influenced him (Jung, Nietzsche, Joyce, Mann) in school. Sometimes what they said sounded very logical. It made sense, until they began to discuss truth. It became quickly apparent that this group of thinkers considered man before God and thought of religion as a crutch. They were sure that “truth”, as a concept, could be found only in weighing the “good” it was doing you, or how “good” it made you feel.
I’m sorry, but if you live in a world where there is no truth but how you feel, you are going to live in a very mixed up world. Your “truth”, your “bliss”, will change daily because we as humans change daily. There is no solid ground. No wonder there are record numbers of people describing feelings of insecurity and depression.
Let’s think about it this way: If every morning you woke up to find that the ground around you had changed from solid rock to liquid to magma and back again based solely on how you were feeling that morning, or even worse, how some other human was feeling, would you have any security upon waking?
So, I have not found “truth” in the philosophy of “Being my own hero” and “Finding my Bliss”.
Then there is the question of other people.
I know that the character I know the most about in my story is me. Obviously, I know my inner thoughts when no one else really does. I’ve been there to see everything I’ve done and not done. (So has God, but let us wait to address that[Psalm 139].) But does that make me the hero in this story? What about my husband, my parents, my children, my brothers and their families, the women in my Bible study, the people reading this long blog post now? Can I treat them as ancillary fleeting characters? Would I want them to treat me that way?
The interplay of “others” in our own story is way too complicated to treat lightly. Life is not like fiction or even non-fiction if you really think about it. Treating others as characters in service to the hero, you, makes you, well, let’s just put it bluntly, a jerk.
Other people have deep thought lives you know nothing about. They have pasts and futures you may or may not be a part of. They are beings with worth, not just characters put in place to further a plot or help you “find your bliss”.
And now I see I’m not even the main focus of my story sometimes. There is too much complication in real life to treat it so simply.
Finally, and most importantly, if I’m playing the big hero in my life, what about God?
I can, as many have, treat Him as some huge being in the sky who has no real bearing or interest in my life or how I live it, but that’s not my experience with God.
I can, as many have, treat Him as a punisher, watching every move I make and waiting to throw down some proverbial lightening when I do wrong, but that’s not my experience with God.
I can, as many have, treat Him as a candy machine, waiting for me to put in the proper payment for the gifts I want, but that’s not my experience with God.
None of these is the God I know. None of these is the God I have found in scripture. None of these is GOD.
God is the hero.
If you spend time in His Word you will find that God is a loving, patient, strong, just, merciful, graceful, beautiful, wise, caring, gentle God. He is all of these things, and only He can be all of these things all at once.
Read the story of Cain and Able again (Genesis 4:1-16). We got a chance to do just that in our Bible study last week.
Read it slowly. Do you see God in the story? Did you notice that God is the main character in this story, not Cain? Did you notice that God is patient with Cain (Genesis 4:6-7)? Did you notice that God tried to help Cain avoid the pain He must have seen coming? Yet Cain responded as all of us so often do: with selfishness and anger over the hurt he had received (Genesis 4:5, Genesis 4:8, Genesis 4:9, Genesis 4:13-14).
We could do that with any story of any of the characters of the Bible that we may have heard of in pop culture. I think most of the world would be surprised to learn that God is the hero, the main character of the Bible and of our lives.
So, what do we do with our story if we are not here to save ourselves and somehow be an ultra-mega-special person?
We are here to tell our story. We are the narrators.
Tell your story. Those who hear it will hear God in it, even the messy embarrassing or shameful parts.
Tell THE story. Because this story, though mine may seem in my mind to be the most crucial part, is one huge story made of many little parts all equally important and unimportant.
My story, THE story is always pointing toward the truth of a God who knows me, knows you, inside and out, good and bad.
I hope this long winded post says what has been clanging around in my heart and head lately because I think it is what God wants you and me to hear. I hope I am being a faithful narrator here.
Welcome to THE story.