The Story We Tell Ourselves (Part 1)

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A part of what draws us to this peculiar treasure of a community called the Rabbit Room is a shared love of stories and storytelling. We are a bookish and thoughtful tribe who believe a book is more than something to read—it’s a doorway to enter a universe as significant as our own, full of life, wonder, and wisdom. We walk the aisles of second-hand bookstores with the fervor of treasure hunters, smelling the open pages when nobody is looking, intoxicated by them. We love to lose ourselves in grand and beautiful tales, believing that it’s one of the best ways to be found again. We regard our favorite writers with a sacred awe, letting them into the deepest, most intimate places in our hearts.

Yet for all of our love of storytelling, it’s easy to forget that each of us is a powerful and accomplished storyteller in his or her own right, with a vivid imagination and capacity for creating wonderful and terrible worlds. It is a gift bestowed upon us by the Great Storyteller who made us in his image. He whose words are made flesh endows us with the power to bring our own stories to life. When we remember this and walk in the truth and grace of it we tell better stories with our lives.

We are, of course, a story that he is telling, but I believe he also invites us to be co-storytellers with him, participating in the tale, every one of us a novelist and autobiographer. Our work is published in the daily living of the life we lead. It shapes us and everyone we know.

I believe our storytelling falls into two categories, each a part of the other: the story we tell the world and the story we tell ourselves. The story we tell the world is a pro-active and intentional kind of storytelling, paving the road as it opens before us. “What kind of story do I want to tell today?” is a question that helps me participate with purpose in the daily chapters of my life. The story we tell ourselves is responsive and interpretive of events as they happen to us or around us. It’s the way a plot line runs through me before continuing on to others. Together, the story I tell the world and the story I tell myself form the single narrative of my life and either lead me deeper into the life-giving heart of it or drive me away from it.

Though I prefer pro-active story telling in my own life—where I have a stronger sense of participating in the direction of the narrative—I believe I can be just as intentional in my responsive and interpretive storytelling, and this is what I want to focus on here. I am empowered when I’m aware that every moment I am telling a story and that the plot can turn in me, right where I stand. Knowing I hold a pen helps me mean what I write.

But just as I am empowered when I am aware, there are consequences when I’m not. Another voice takes over like a ghostwriter when I’m not looking: it is the voice of my broken nature and it speaks the loudest when I stop being intentionally responsive and instead become merely reactive—left to the mercy of whatever story my emotions, physical condition, state of mind, hormones, etc. want to tell me at the time. When I’m exhausted I am inclined to tell a different story than I would if I were well rested. When I’m sad, I may come to believe that a fiction is truth. When I’m lost in my own insecurity, I find rejection in the eyes of every character in the scene. When I’m full of fear, every shadow hides a bogey. When I’m angry, I may set my world on fire, burning up entire chapters of my life. This is how many beautiful stories turn very sad.

My friend Al, a gifted storyteller, helped me understand the power of the story we tell ourselves. He had a friend who was supposed to meet him for lunch one day but didn’t show up. At first Al was irritated. “It was inconsiderate of him to waste my time.” When Al couldn’t reach him throughout that afternoon to see what happened, he began to worry about him. “Is he okay? Was he in an accident?” By the next day, having still not heard from him, Al began to wonder if he had somehow offended his friend. “Is he ignoring my calls? Is he so angry with me over something that he refuses to talk to me? What did I do?” And so what began as a happy story about two friends sharing a meal and good conversation together was led away into stories of blame, fear, and then shame.

Several days later the real story emerged: his friend had a sudden family emergency and had to catch an early flight that morning. In his hurry to leave, he misplaced his phone and was without it until he got back home.

I recognize myself in Al’s narrative and in it see the kinds of stories that I so often tell myself, though I’m usually not even aware that I’m doing it. How often do I run with the stories of blame, fear and shame? I am vulnerable to this kind of thing everyday and, if I’m not careful, I can become the victim of my own worst story telling—led into the sad, shadowy corners of a confusing narrative and away from the heart of the plot and the characters I care about the most—including, and especially, myself, or at least the self that I most want to be.

Great wars are fought and lost daily in the broken storytelling of our darkened imaginations. But recognizing ourselves as powerful storytellers who have a say in our own story helps us to participate in the tale by inviting the light of grace into our narrative, taking every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5), and submitting our stories to the ongoing chronicle of God’s larger tale of redemption.

Al’s account helps me to be more than merely reactive. It puts the pen back in my hand by helping me ask the question: “What is the story I’m telling myself in this moment?” Asking this interrupts the sad script that runs on autopilot without my being aware of it. Armed with the knowledge that God has gifted me to be a story-teller, I am entrusted and empowered to tell the kind of story I love the most: A beautiful narrative full of truth and grace.

I do this best when I ask these two questions: “What kind of story do I want to tell today?” and “What is the story I’m telling myself in this moment?”

The first question helps me to enter my narrative with purpose and intention. I shape and am shaped by it. Is what I’m doing right now adding to the beauty of the story God has given me to tell? Or am I writing a scene that I’ll regret?

The second question helps break the spell of the gibbering voices of fear, pride, and insecurity that are always trying to hijack my story. Like Oz the Great and Powerful exposed behind the curtain, I am liberated from the worst version of myself. There in the light of my awareness, the sad, scary lies that bully me in the darkened corners of my imagination are exposed and scattered. I can pick up the pen and by God’s grace I can write something new.

What kind of story do I want to tell today? What kind of stories am I telling myself right now? Do they ring with truth or read like bad fiction?  How can I tell a better story starting right now?


56 Comments

  1. Mike

    Wow. Just wow. Your anecdote about Al just rings so true – I see it myself, and in the people around me. When we let our flesh write our story, it always turns dark. Thanks for the reminder that God has given us the power to take every thought captive – including (and, I think, ESPECIALLY) the stories we keep telling ourselves.

    I’m gonna pass this on. And I hope I get to see you on tour this fall. 🙂

  2. Leanore

    Jason, Though I rarely post comments anymore, I love being part of this bookish and thoughtful tribe – those who are willing to put yourselves into our world so we can see how the creative process works in your hearts and minds. What you’ve written here reminds me that unbelievers have only the sad script, constantly on autopilot, going on in their lives, while they act out Oz the Great and Powerful for their audience. What a treasure we have to be able to tell the true story. I do pray for more stories of that tale of redemption. You’ve put these thoughts so well, I’ve taken the liberty of quoting you without marring the flow by inserting quotation marks. Credit goes to you, Jason.

  3. Lydia

    Jason, you should really write an autobiograghy someday. I know a lot about your life from reading these posts here and there, but I would be very interested to read the entire story of your life.

  4. Scott Holman

    Jason, thanks so much for this. I’ve been working on a blog idea centered around the “Fellowship of Unfinished Storytellers,” and your blog spurs imaginative thought. The idea is that we find refuge with other unfinished souls, those precious few companions whose own stories provide us with ample room to bring all of our broken plotlines and loose ends. It’s what Christ does for us. With Jesus we don’t have to choose which plotlines or characters are “safe” or not. He has covered it all with his blood, and we can offer that kind of fellowship to one another. No one should have to edit themselves to be in our presence!

    So much of what I need is a re-telling of my story to myself; a reinterpretation based on who Jesus is and what he’s done for me that (one day, by grace) will become more of my “autopilot script.”

    Bless you brother.
    Scott

  5. Micah Hawkinson

    I needed to hear this, Jason. All too often, I am content with stories told by the voices down here in the mire rather than seeking the ones that should be breathed through me from on high by the Great Storyteller.

    This post reminded me of Philippians 4:8. What a powerful command that verse would become if I could stop thinking of it as a set of prohibitions and start seeing it as a set of storytelling tips!

    Thanks for sharing this challenge with me.

  6. Brenda Branson

    Jason, thanks so much for this article. I needed to be reminded of the “gibbering voices of fear, pride, and insecurity that are always trying to hijack my story.” I’ve been listening to them lately, but it’s time to intentionally write a better story.

  7. Julie Silander

    Jason – Yes! Of course, being part of the bookish and thoughtful tribe, this brings to mind one of my favorite books – The Trunk by Elizabeth Coatsworth. I won’t disclose any spoilers, but I was stopped by the ending. Our view of the world is largely shaped (or distorted) by what is transpiring in our minds. Awareness of my frequently-skewed vision is the first step toward a clearer view of reality. After reading The Trunk, I was challenged to look back over specific chapters in my life to consider “What is the story I was telling myself?” Yes, we’ve been given the gift of pen in hand going forward. But we’re also given the opportunity to rewrite history with clearer vision and more accuracy. Thank you.

  8. Jonathan

    Good stuff, thanks!

    Typo alert: “accomplished storyteller in his or her own rite” should be “right”.

  9. Lydia

    Jonathan and Jason as long as you are on that topic the technically correct way to spell “Ooops” according to the online dictionary is “Oops”… lol

  10. James Witmer

    I notice in Al’s story something I see in my own whenever I lose sight of your second question. Our instinctive responses are mostly self-centered: He stood ME up. MY friend was hurt. He is offended with ME.

    The truth, as is often the case, had nothing to do with Al. But I doubt that possibility would have crossed my mind in his place.

    There is some peace in realizing that God hasn’t cast each of us as the protagonist in our own drama, but as beloved supporting characters in a story with the greatest of all Heroes. That’s a story I’m excited to tell.

  11. Jeanine

    “Great wars are fought and lost daily in the broken storytelling of our darkened imaginations. But recognizing ourselves as powerful storytellers who have a say in our own story helps us to participate in the tale by inviting the light of grace into our narrative, taking every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5), and submitting our stories to the ongoing chronicle of God’s larger tale of redemption.”

    This is wonderful and so very true.

  12. Debra Henderson

    I love this! Jason, you so often write about exactly what I struggle with and in your writings I find honesty, compassion, grace and encouragement. This was also so empowering. Thank you…again.

  13. Elizabeth Cuthbert

    Words are spirit, and when they are true, nothing can corrrupt them. In “The Stories We Tell Ourselves,” you discovered a liberating truth. It must have been very exciting for you to discover this. (It was exciting for us, too!) I’m so glad I decided to go to the Rabbit Room…

    Love your songs, btw.

  14. Keren Renee Powell

    Select … Provoke … Distort
    The truths that we believe about ourselves do more than influence our interpretation of events that shape our lives. To prove what we believe to be true about ourselves, we:

    1. Select others that confirm those truths,
    2. Provoke the selected others into confirming said truths,
    3. Distort the information we receive if said truth is not confirmed.

    In a way we foreshadow the stories of our lives by our own beliefs.

  15. Kaitlyn

    So often what you write pops up at the exact time I need it, and boy, did I need this! I’ve been trying to become more aware of the things that get my feathers ruffled, how I think of people if they wrong me, and how I see them after the problem has been resolved. Thank you for the reminder that we are able to take our thoughts captive, that we can control exactly what we feel at that particular time, and toss out the negative. I’m writing those questions down too, and putting them in a place that I’ll see them every day.

    Thank you…

  16. Kaitlyn

    Chris: That’s exactly what I was thinking when I first saw the title. I need to read one again!

  17. Lorie Harris

    Wow! I needed this reminder not to be so passive in my life. Not only that, but my Creator/Redeemer wants me to participate with Him in writing an honest, humble story where I am not afraid to be the broken one pointing to Him and His grace always. Oh, the ache that comes with being the main character in my story. It always gets everything in life out of balance.

    I thank the Lord for your ministry in music. Your latest 2 cd’s travel constantly with me and speak to my heart over and over! 🙂 God bless!

  18. Lindsey

    Jason, thank you, thank you, thank you! As Kaitlyn said, so often do you strike just the right chord. Too often my life has been spent with me being carried away by the torrential current of my thoughts. Always feeling powerless to fight against them, no way out. That the negative, insecure, and fearful cave that keeps me tied down must be permanent, and just “how I am.” it’s a choice…a hard one for me to break out of. I think I will post these somewhere I can see them often as well. Thank you.

  19. Carolyn McMillen

    Love these thoughts – thank you for sharing them. The beauty of immersing yourself in God’s grace until the story He is telling you becomes the story that you are telling yourself and in turn the story you are sharing with others.

  20. Jen

    The whole first paragraph is spot on… yes, these are my people. 🙂

    There’s so much truth to this, and I’m so glad you shared it. So often, it’s easy to react instead of respond with wisdom (and I suppose a healthy self-suspicion). It seems to me that pride is the root of so much of our pain.

    Thanks for, once again, making me think. And yay for a Part 2 on the way!

  21. Tony Heringer

    Thanks Jason. I love this paragraph:

    “Great wars are fought and lost daily in the broken storytelling of our darkened imaginations. But recognizing ourselves as powerful storytellers who have a say in our own story helps us to participate in the tale by inviting the light of grace into our narrative, taking every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5), and submitting our stories to the ongoing chronicle of God’s larger tale of redemption.”

    It reminded me of a recent interview I heard on Mars Hill Audio Journal. The subject was on a recent biography of G.K. Chesterton. They used a term that captures that last sentence perfectly. They noted that Chesterton had a “sacramental imagination.”. I take that to mean he was thinking about life narrativally and not chronologically. Beyond that I am still processing the idea, but it intrigues me.

    Looking forward to part II and to possibly catching up next week when you play up in Gainsville GA.

  22. Wes Brown

    So well put. I find myself periodically waking in the night, disturbed by scenes written the previous day that I regret. And, that I wish I could rewrite. Thank you for the reminder to be intentional in every moment.

  23. MaryAlice Means

    You, your life, is a letter from Christ, written on your heart. Thank you for sharing your songs, your words, your experiences, your life. You are helping more people than you could ever know.

    2 Corinthians 3:2-6  (New International Version)

    2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody.

    3 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

    4 Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God.

    5 Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.

    6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant–not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

  24. Zack

    Thank you. I do write bad stories for myself continuously, even lately as an ‘enlightened one’. I give myself the character traits I despise most or believe that others see most in me. I needed to read this today.

  25. Megan

    Can someone tell me exactly how someone becomes a Christian. I just don’t get it and I want too. Is it true that there is an elect few that will be saved and some of us aren’t apart of that list? How do you know for sure…

    Sincerely, the biggest loser of them all.

  26. Profile photo of Thomas McKenzie

    Thomas McKenzie

    @thomas

    Hey Megan,

    What a great question. The most important thing you need to hear is that the God of the universe loves you deeply, and that there is no one he loves more than you. God became a human being so that you could become the daughter of God.

    Everyone who is drawn to God is a child of God. The fact that you are even asking these questions shows me that God has given you his grace and mercy, and that you have nothing to fear.

    My suggestion to you is to call out to Jesus. Tell him that you want to be a child of God, and he will do that work in you by the Holy Spirit. You are saved by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ when you call out to him.

    I would suggest that you start going to a good church, one that preaches and lives out the love of God in Jesus Christ. If you will post what town you live in, I’d be happy to see if I have any suggestions, and we can ask other Rabbit Roomers if they have any suggestions.

    The Christian life is, of course, more complicated than saying a prayer and going to church. Salvation is not complicated. It is the work of Jesus in your life, a work it sounds like he’s already doing. Call out to him, and he will do the rest.

    Thomas+

  27. Lydia

    Meagan, I will just add to what Thomas said. Some people think that if you get saved you can lose your salvation if you sin. The truth is actually this, that Christ forgive your sins once and for all past and future sins, once you pray and ask him to forgive you, you are truly saved and there is nothing Satan can do to wrip you from his grasp.

  28. Megan

    Hi Thomas. I’m 29 and I live in Kettering, Ohio. Thanks for responding to my question. My best friend who recently died on June 3rd was a Christian. She helped me through the worst parts of my life after the effects of being molested at 9 and anorexia. Now she is gone. I am having difficulty getting through her death and am at times wishing I was dead too. Maybe the way through that is in church.

  29. Lydia

    Also I remember when I got saved and I litterally FELT Christ’s presence that is how I knew that I was truly forgiven. It was like a burden was lifted.

  30. Lydia

    Meagan, may I suggest a book that you might like? It is called “Choosing To SEE” by Mary Beth Chapman it is her Autobiography and how God helped her through the pain of losing a child. It may help you through losing your best friend.

  31. Tom Murphy

    For thought and conversation during the “Recovery Through Song” seminar…Thanks for writing this post Jason…Looking forward to the Moot!

    “When I’m exhausted I am inclined to tell a different story than I would if I were well rested. When I’m sad, I may come to believe that a fiction is truth. When I’m lost in my own insecurity, I find rejection in the eyes of every character in the scene. When I’m full of fear, every shadow hides a bogey. When I’m angry, I may set my world on fire, burning up entire chapters of my life. This is how many beautiful stories turn very sad.”

    “Al’s account helps me to be more than merely reactive. It puts the pen back in my hand by helping me ask the question: “What is the story I’m telling myself in this moment?” Asking this interrupts the sad script that runs on autopilot without my being aware of it. Armed with the knowledge that God has gifted me to be a story-teller, I am entrusted and empowered to tell the kind of story I love the most: A beautiful narrative full of truth and grace.”

    I would add that our job as believers in the Author and Perfecter is to drop the pen (die to self) and rest in the story that God has written for us. Please, bear with me here…

    In Ephesians 2:8-10, Paul gets to the heart of the matter, of the nature of our being, as workmanship, or craftmenship, if you will.

    “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

    The Greek word in verse 10 for workmanship (again, think craftmenship) is ποίημα (transliterated into English – poiema). Now, notice what English word we get from poiema.

    Etymology of Poem
    http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=poem

    Merriam Webster’s best crack at it…
    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/poem

    Stealing a line from H.J. Laski, “The house we stay in is, itself, a poem”…Creaks, broken plumbing, and termite infested walls preserved by Grace and slowly being remodeled by its Inhabitant are we. Stealing your own line, “I will hide in there as well”…

    In essence, our very nature is poetry, written by God in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13-18, Psalm 51:3-6) for the sole purpose of bringing Glory to Himself and finding our highest Joy in Him forever.

    But, we often ask, “But Lord, what about our missteps?”. Poetry. “What about our good works?” Poetry. “What about our brokeness?” Poetry. Poetry. Poetry. Right sacrifice (Psalm 51:16-17)…

    Let me drive the nail home.

    Colossians 1:24-29

    “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.”

    According to Colossians 1:24-27, the full knowledge of God’s word comes through our suffering (Colossians 1:26), yielded to the Father, for the benefit of the Body. Now, what I am about to write is unpopular, but True – suffering comes into our life so that our Joy may be complete and full.

    The full knowledge of Christ to this broken, shattered world comes at the expense of the suffering of His Body. Remember, we have a Sacred Union, where He abides in us as we suffer. Our suffering “fills up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions”. This is the stuff of Biblical meditation.

    Yet, when the fullness of Time is complete, there will be nothing lacking in Christ’s afflictions. The fullness of His suffering comes as His Spirit dwells within His Bride. The Bride that He is sanctifying (cleansing and healing) for Himself and going ahead to prepare a room for. The consummation of the Bride and Groom is the climax to the ever increasing Joy of His eternal banqueting Table. He becomes the meal that we feast upon, as often as we meet, til Kingdom come…

    …and Beyond…

    If I’m honest (Dear Lord, help me to be), the vast majority (to be read “nearly all”) of the suffering that comes into my own life, comes at the fault of my own hands. It’s nearly impossible to admit at times, but it’s true. True for me and true for every human being graced with breathe. In the natural, we are completely self destructive.

    The Grand Narrative is that the preservation of our own lives comes from the death of our most ardent torturers – ourselves – to embrace the Life, Death, Burial, Resurrection, Ascension, and Glory of our Groom. We are made for Union…Made for marriage!

    The dark notes of this epic poem from His hand when set to song are mine. The white keys are His. The more I yield to His white key playing, the more joyful the tune. My black key playing, doesn’t necessarily detract from the Beauty, but only highlights and extols the beauty of the white. For instance, no book of Hosea without Gomer. Gomer was God’s perfectly crafted vessel and poem to allow Hosea to love well and foreshadow THE Groom. How often do we see this about others in our lives? How often are we Gomer? Always…

    “But God…”

    I have met many people that have suffered in my counseling ministry. Those believers with the most Joy, are those that have suffered the most. Once they have tasted the faintest flavor of the Redemption of their suffering, you can’t turn them off and you can’t steal their Joy. They become self aware rocks (in fact, a little lower than God – Psalm 8:3-5), bonded to the Rock. It’s upside down to our logic and thinking, but the mystery continues to overwhelm my own heart at each turn. His ways are not ours. The stories we choose to write for ourselves, usually, have nothing in common with His.

    But, oh, when they interweave and overlap – My God, what Beauty!

    We merry few are but a portion of those choosing to submit our stories, our poems, our counseling, our cooking, our art, no matter what the form, to His guiding hand in our craft work. Yes, we have been created (in fact, crafted) for good works, but the one supplying the energy, the creativity, and the ideas is Him! (Col 1:29)

    BTW, the nature of God’s word in the OT is poetry and prose set to music – aka, Song. The whole of the text is a musical overveiling of the Glory of God and the coming of the Messiah. Here’s a sample from Psalm 8 in the Hebrew…

    Psalm 8

    And, Paul, God love him…Tells us to rejoice (Col 1:24)…Yes, we shall Rejoice! Lord, help us to sing through the suffering and…Dear God we are desperate…to help us thank you for it.

    It’s a Truth we need more songs about. Jason, thanks for your part in adding to unveiling the mystery. Nothing is wasted!

  32. Tom Murphy

    Megan, my name is Tom Murphy. My email is TomMurphy28@gmail.com and my phone number is 830-719-1527. I am a Biblical Counseling Seminarian living in Dallas, TX. Please call if you need to. Don’t worry about the hour…

    I am originally from Scranton, PA and have many friends from Ohio. I can help you get connected with a Gospel preaching church of loving Christians…

  33. Lindsey Murphy

    Megan, how exciting that you found us and are asking these questions! Welcome to the greatest Story you’ll ever know- a story that’s been going on since the beginning of time that you’ll soon find you’ve got a pretty awesome place in. To answer your last question, I’m no seminarian or pastor, just someone who loves Jesus and his Word and his people, but when people harm themselves, it does not mean the Satan is controlling you. There are instances in Scripture where true demon possession leads to self abuse, but in general, a lot of people hurt themselves on the outside because they’re hurting on the inside, too. They just want a tangible “feeling” to match their inner pain. Self loathing is sadly a common reaction to our separation from God without Christ in our lives to reconcile us. I struggled with eating disorders for a long time too, so I’m familiar with some of the pain you’ve experienced. But in a nutshell, NO- self harm does not mean that Satan is controlling you. The Bible actually tells us that those who are in Christ cannot be controlled by the devil at all. We can be tempted, but our hearts belong to a Good, Loving Jesus- who is infinitely more powerful than any adversary- inward or outward- that you will ever encounter.

  34. Tom Murphy

    Megan, the world is a difficult (and frustrating) place to breathe. I came to the Lord through a failed suicide attempt while I was in Air Force pilot training. The desire to end life stems from our desire to find an escape from the pain. In fact, I should not have survived.

    Rather, than escape the pain of our lives, Jesus entered into the suffering, died on the Cross to redeem and reconcile our brokenness and pain to Himself. He was resurrected three days later.

    God reaches out to us by Grace. When we place our faith in Jesus, our sin is given to Jesus. In its place, Jesus gives us His holiness, His righteousness, and His Life.

    We no longer need to be consumed with ourselves, but are freed to love others, as God as loved us in the giving of His Son for us.

    The Gospel of John is a wonderful place to start. You have us here in the Rabbit Room captivated. We would love to answer all of your questions. If we don’t have the answers, we’ll do our best to connect you with those that do. But, there is lots of room for mystery.

    There are some questions which will only be answered in Heaven, on the flip side of this veil of tears.

    According to Ephesians 2:8-10, you are His poetry, made in His image and likeness. The unfolding of your life – both good days and bad – are under His sovereign control.

    He has your back…You can rest from your suffering in Him…

  35. Megan

    Thankyou all for responding to my questions. I am very thankful for kindness. My husband says he doesn’t believe there are any good people left on the Earth. I don’t think that is nessarily true. I am so frightened of people that it has left me totally isolated from the outside world and am trembling at the fear of someone getting too close. However I do have the need of getting close to someone. I have never been able to talk about my past until I met my friend who passed away. I only heard about this place from reading and watching Jason Gray’s videos and wanting to find the God he loves so much. Thanks, Megan.

  36. Tom Murphy

    Megan, as far as churches go, I would suggest the below. The Oaks Community Church has a really great relationship with a church planting network (Sojourn) that I am looking to church plant with in Scranton, PA. The Oaks is in Middletown.

    The Oaks Community Church
    http://www.sojournmusic.com/2008/07/worshiping-and-hangin-with-sojourns-sister-new-acts-29-plant-the-oaks-community-church/

    The Oaks Sermons (There are a bunch of recent ones on Rest)
    http://www.theoakscommunitychurch.org/resources/sermons/

    http://www.theoakscommunitychurch.org/

    Free Sojourn Music
    http://www.sojournmusic.com/category/digital-hymnal/

    Jesus can be your Refuge…Listen below:
    http://sojournmusic.bandcamp.com/track/refuge
    http://www.sojournmusic.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/Refuge.pdf

    Megan, can be a part of a “City No longer Forsaken!”
    http://sojournmusic.bandcamp.com/track/a-city-no-longer-forsaken
    http://www.sojournmusic.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/A-City-No-Longer-Forsaken-1.pdf

  37. Dan Foster

    Megan,
    The beauty of what God has done is acknowledging that people in the world really are bad, but in Jesus Christ there is forgiveness for those wrongs. And thanks to his grace, we can do the right things and act kindly and mercifully. And so I pray that you will find his mercy and find others who will show his love to you.

    I went to college near Dayton. There are a number of good churches in the area. The one I attended is not far from Kettering: http://www.daytonopc.org. No church is perfect, but this one always did a good job of welcoming visitors and inviting them over for a meal.

    Call out to Jesus. God bless you.

  38. Lydia

    Megan, also remember that once you ask Christ to forgive you of your sins you are saved for eternity and you will go to Heaven when you die. When you get to Heaven you will be able to spend eternity with God and with your friend who passed away.

  39. EmmaJ

    Hey, Megan – so glad to hear that God is working in your heart and drawing you to Himself. One really awesome thing that the Bible says is that when a person becomes God’s child, the angels in heaven rejoice. And I can’t think of a more beautiful party. Being part of God’s family is something that matters here and now, as well as for eternity. Being a Christian doesn’t make life perfect or take away problems, but when you can walk with God through those problems, all the troubles of life are transformed into things that He uses to shape your heart into the ever-more-beautiful person he is making you to be.

    As a few people have mentioned, church is a great place not only to learn more about what God says in the Bible, but also to become part of community, the community of God’s people who are growing and serving together and encouraging each other. I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve lost your friend – what a heartbreaking experience. Do you have any connection to people at her church? That might be a good place to start – to hear God’s word as well as to meet some people with whom you can also share the happy memories of your friend and grief over her loss.

    My friend Dan already offered the name of one church in the general vicinity, but I’ll throw in the name of the church that I attended while in college: Emmanuel Baptist in Xenia (http://www.ebcxenia.org/). It’s not very close to you, I think, but it is a place where I felt welcomed, learned truth and experienced caring fellowship. One of my favorite professors from college (Dr. Greg Couser) is one of the elders (a kind of church leader). However, I think another friend is looking for some info for you on a church that might be closer to your area.

    Grace and peace to you in fullest measure – thank you for reaching out. Praying for your heart tonight, friend!

  40. Megan

    Hello again and thankyou for everyone who wrote a response. I am still trying to soak in all the information and think about what I am supposed to do next. Als0 thankyou Lydia for posting that video…It is definitly one of my favorite of Jason’s songs. I am not sure what church I belong in or denomination-there are too many to choose from. Although sitting in the very back is where I would start unless I had someone to go with.

    I know we who live in the USA should be grateful we live here. We do not suffer like the people in Africa or Iraq. I should be ashamed for even feeling the least bit sorry for myself because I do have a bed to sleep in a night and a job I go to every morning.

    With my friend Heather passing life has become so difficult. It’s like all the bad moments replay themselves over and over and it is hard to forget.

    I cant think of anything I want more than to belong to a family. We never had that at home because we didn’t live normal lives. Hatred and physical/sexual abuse was normal. I guess what I am trying to say was that I didnt know any better. I thought that was how a family was.

    Now I know that is far from the truth.

    Thanks again,
    Megan.

  41. EmmaJ

    Megan,
    Thanks for your honesty and for sharing your struggles. This is such a hard realization to come to about your family of origin. My own background is also not what one would call entirely ideal. The Church (big ‘C’ because I mean the whole community of Christians everywhere around the world, not just a building or congregation) isn’t perfect, but that’s exactly what it’s for – to be a true family (and one that lasts forever and forever) to those of us with loving parents and with deeply flawed relationships alike.

    I was talking to a friend once who told me she sometimes feels a bit ashamed that her family is so stable and loving when so many of her friends have struggled with family relationships. To which I could only respond, “No, please don’t feel that way! It doesn’t make me feel at all bad or jealous that your family is great. Happy families are like a lighthouse – they make me see that there’s hope. And they welcome the rest of us in.” I hope (in a sense of confident expectation, because I’m asking God for this) that you can get connected with some deeply graceful believers, people who God can use in your life to grow in hope and to mend some of those broken places. That’s a lifelong process, but it’s just what God delights in doing.

    It actually even says in the Bible, “God sets the lonely in families” (Psalm 68:6). As a person who is not (yet) married and who comes from a less-than-ideal background, this promise is so precious to me. Sometimes this means people who are actually related, share a name and live in the same house. Sometimes it means the people that you love and worship and serve and sometimes argue and grow with together in Christ. In the midst of a super heartbreaking experience my friend Liz told me once, “This is what you do – you run to God and you run to God’s people.”

    As for suffering… there are different kinds. While there’s every reason to recognize and have compassion for people suffering physical hardships, that doesn’t negate that you’ve been through some really tough stuff, too. And Jesus cares so much about that. He stood at his own friend’s grave and wept over the tragedy of death (in the book of John, chapter 11).

    Megan, I wonder if Tara Klena Barthel’s story might speak to your heart and where you are. (Tara is a friend of my aforementioned friend Liz, both very wise and witty women.) I can’t find that exact set of recordings that I own, but it looks like there’s a condensed version of her story available for free download: http://www.tarabarthel.com/resources/free-audio-downloads/ (“The Grace of God that Brings Shalom”). Or, well… hmmm… I think I found it on Amazon – Women and Peacemaking: A Journey of Grace.

    Another promise that I love in Scripture is that God says He is a Father to the fatherless. He created you and loves you. He knew your every moment before one of them happened. This is a crazy-painful world, but He can be with you, comforting and sustaining you as you process the pain of loss and brokenness.

    I don’t know anything about this specific congregation, but I do know that Sovereign Grace is a group of churches that tends to be very friendly and welcoming, and it looks like there’s a congregation in Dayton: http://sgcdayton.org/ . Or, well, nevermind, they actually meet in Xenia. As you can see, I have a crush on Xenia. Ha ha.

    If you show up in church and you feel nervous and don’t know anyone (I’ve been there), it can be a bit awkward. But just tell anyone you’re new, look for opportunities to get to know about the church (many churches offer a Sunday class for new believers) and fellowship – some churches will host lunch after a service, sometimes people will go out to a restaurant, some people are good at showing hospitality and inviting people to their homes. Lots of churches encourage people to meet together in small groups to share life and friendship. It may seem weird, but I encourage you to take that step and experience the love of God through His people. Like I said, I’m going to pray for people to reach out to you and for you to get connected with loving, caring community.

  42. Doug

    Hey Megan,
    My name is Doug. My fiance and I go to Fairhaven Church. It is at the corner of Whipp and Marshall which is technically Centerville, but feels more like being in Kettering. This is Fairhaven’s website:
    http://www.fairhavenchurch.org/
    You are welcome to join us anytime. We have a group that meets on Thursday nights about 7 p.m. called The Cube for everyone from 18 – 30(ish). I’m 29 and I don’t feel weird going. You’re also welcome to join us for a weekend worship time, or if you just want to download the sermons that’s ok too. Everyone is welcome at Fairhaven. We are all trying to figure things out together.
    Doug

  43. yankeegospelgirl

    Also, Megan, you are not a loser just because you have suffered. You suffered innocently. Many people do. The word “brokenness” gets over-used sometimes, but I use it to refer to people who have just been through the wringer and have no idea why. That sounds like you right now, and I am so, so sorry. But you need to understand that this does not make you a loser. Don’t tell that lie to yourself. God loves you and wants to heal you.

  44. Lydia

    You are very welcome Megan. And don’t worry about denomination, I personally am Baptist (and anything you may hear about Baptists usually isn’t true) We believe the Bible is true, that it is God breathed, that the only way to Heaven is through accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior. Find one that believes The whole Bible is true and that ANYONE can get saved, they can NOT lose their Salvation, and Everyone should have a Bible of their own and read it on a regular basis.

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