Monday, September 19, 2011


One of the best-selling books in the 1980s was M. Scott Peck’s The Road Less Traveled. In this book, the first line reads: “Life is difficult.”

How do you like that for an opening sentence?

Beginning in the next sentence, the author further explains the statement:
"It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters."

Window Frame by David Master

One key to living an intentional life is embracing our story – whatever that story is. Although I know that life is difficult, I also know that life is good. When we spend days, months, and years wishing for a different story, we miss the life that is being written for us.

When I talk about embracing our story, I am referring to the circumstances in our life that are out of our control. Many of the situations that we face in our life are of our own choosing. Some are not. 

Today I’m talking about those circumstances that we wish we could change and, for whatever reason, we cannot. Examples that come to mind are ones such as disease, loss of a loved one, disabilities, infertility, and other circumstances that we just can’t really explain.

As I reflect on embracing my story, four thoughts come to mind:

1. Consciously embrace your story daily.
A while back, I wrote about Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great. In this book he talks about the Stockdale Paradox. The Stockdale Paradox is about facing the facts of your current reality and believing that you will prevail in the end (read more about this idea here).
Our story is our story. We can deny it, try to suppress it, or go into depression because of what it is. But whatever we choose to do, it is still there.

Our story is unique. To live fully, we must embrace our story.
2. Realize there may not be an answer for why your story is written the way it is – stop trying to figure it out.
We must stop trying to figure out why we have been chosen for our particular story. I remember hearing NBC news anchor John Chancellor give this quote when he was faced with life-threatening cancer: “If you want to make God laugh, just tell him your plans.”
That quote almost paints God as one who scoffs at our troubles and I do not believe this is His response. But, as a Christian, I fully believe that God has no obligation whatsoever to explain to me why I have been given a particular story.

When I listen to preachers or Christians who talk of the prosperity Gospel, I just cringe. There are numerous stories in the Bible of Christian men and women who faced incredible struggles and challenges. How do we explain their story? I don’t think we do. I think we have to stop trying to figure out WHY our story is happening and just do our best to embrace it. Part of trusting God is believing that He will redeem our story – whether in this lifetime or another.
3. Stop looking at other people’s story.
This is the most insidious temptation when living our story. We look at others and think, “if only…” This is the quickest way to deny our story and live a bitter, hurtful life.
Every single person faces their own challenges – it’s a human condition. The temptation is always available to look at other people and desire what they have. But, we must fight this desire.

Daily thankfulness is the only way to battle this hunger to look at other people’s story. When we are obsessing with other people’s stories, we should take some time to list the things that we are thankful for in our own lives. Maybe we aren’t exactly where we would desire to be; but, again, we can live in a place of bitterness or we can choose to embrace our story and look at the blessings that we have.
4. Add the next chapter to your story.
Embracing our story means that we know the last chapter has not been written. Although we may not be able to control circumstances, we can always choose our attitude and envision a compelling future.

If you are a Christian, the Bible says that if we take our struggles and challenges to the very end (even death), we still have a hope. Our life is not about what happens during this lifetime. We will have an eternity to look into the face of God.

It hurts me to think that people exist in this world who do not have the hope of Jesus Christ. I don’t believe that I could truly embrace my story without this knowledge. Please remember that whatever our current story, we do have a hope and a future in Christ.

Embrace your story today. Even when it hurts, even when it makes you angry, even when it makes no sense – embrace your story.

I would like to point you to a new blogging friend who inspires me to live my story. His name is Ryan Haack. You can read a blog that he wrote about this idea here.

Life is difficult…but it is good. Embrace your story today...because it is yours.

QUESTION: How do you embrace your life story? Please post comments below. NOTE: I have begun using DISQUS for comments. If you do not have a DISQUS account, please sign up for one. If you have a blog that you would like to link, sign up for your DISQUS account here. If you only want to make comments, sign up here. NOTE: You do NOT have to create a DISQUS account to leave comments.

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