“Change your narrative. It works brilliantly well,” were the last words of a short video I watched recently. How true it is! Your narrative is the story you tell yourself about your life. In a word, it’s
perspective, but that word is used so often that we sometimes let it float right past without really thinking about what it means or the effect it has. I wrote about labels (the way we see ourselves) here but lately I am seeing more how the way I see my circumstances and events that happen shape life, for better or worse.
The story we tell ourselves is powerful. More powerful, I think, than almost anything else.
I’ve heard it explained through an analogy of wearing a pair of glasses that you look at everything in life through. When you are wearing glasses you probably have no idea things could be different because these are the glasses you’ve worn all your life. You see what you’re used to seeing, what you’ve learned to see. If you look through red glass, everything you see will always be red, and if you don’t know you are wearing glasses, you will just assume that’s the way it will always be – the only way it could be. Few people realize that they can take off the glasses at any time and put on a new pair that will color and show life in a completely different way.
Pairs of glasses are as unique as the person wearing them but the common denominator is: your glasses tell you what to see in life.
These are a couple of examples of what glasses may look like on someone.
She is anxious and overwhelmed. Her glasses have told her, since she was a little girl, that she is unwanted, alone, and not enough. When a friend seems quieter than normal, when her social media post doesn’t get much attention, when her spouse doesn’t seem to value what she has to say, the glasses tell her that she is the problem and if she was better, if she was kinder, if she knew more, if she studied her Bible more, if, if, if… then she could finally rest and know she is enough and feel safe. In each of these things she sees and reacts to the same message: you’re not enough, you didn’t do this well enough, nobody cares what you have to say, you failed. True or not, it’s the story the glasses tell – and it’s always hard to believe that a pair of glasses could ever lie when you’re the one wearing them.
If you listen to someone carefully, you can get a good idea of what they believe (“I believed, therefore I spoke…” Psalm 116:10) and what their glasses show them about life.
“I don’t know why this kind of thing always happens to me! Random expenses like this don’t happen to anyone else like they do to me. I just can’t seem to ever get ahead, no matter what I do. When it’s not one thing it’s another.” And his glasses show him, everywhere he looks, that this is true. Making money is hard and keeping it is even harder. He expects it now, talks it, thinks about it all the time. Every decision is made through the lens of lack and struggle and what he doesn’t realize is that as long as he looks at life through those lenses, it is exactly what he will experience.
I honestly don’t think it’s necessary to find out when or why you put the glasses on. I’ve delved deep into my past, emotions, family lines, etc. and I can’t say that it has ever helped me. I actually think it hindered me from moving forward for a while because if we see a disqualifier or an exception before healing or freedom can be ours, we will always believe we are disqualified or the exception, and then all our focus is on us and what we are or aren’t doing right instead of the answer right in front of us. I do, however, believe it is very important to take a good look at what your glasses are showing you. What story do they tell you about life – over and over and over?
The truth is, most of us don’t even know that we are wearing glasses or that they filter everything we see and experience in life. We like to think our vision is 20/20 and that we always see the truth. We may see them on others and think, “I wonder if they know they are wearing those,” and a second later push our own glasses up on our nose, completely oblivious they are even there and are the source of so much grief. If you feel stuck in a cycle and aren’t experiencing the joy, peace, or victory that Christ died to give you… look for the glasses!
I’ll be the first to admit it takes some humility to admit you are wearing them, but it’s the first step to freedom. It’s such an empowering step, because if you put those glasses on, you can take them off and switch them out for a better pair!
I strongly feel that perspective is something we need other people to help with. None of us, not one, can do life successfully alone and when it comes to perspective, even once you are aware that yours may not be the healthiest, it can be really hard to choose a different one when the one you have is all you’ve known. If you have always looked at something one way, how do you start looking at it a different way? Where do you even start to practice something you have no experience in? The Word of God is a great place to start but even then, sometimes we can get so used to reading it through one set of glasses that we can miss the richness of the message right in front of us – not meaning to, but just really not even considering that it is saying something different than what our lenses have always shown us. I do know that when He has an open heart and a hunger to learn to work with, Holy Spirit can show us new things we never saw before; and He also frequently uses people who have been set free to help set others free. What a beautiful thing!
I have asked a few people close to me and my journey to speak into my life. On the days when I’ve snatched that old pair of glasses and slapped them back on and am reaping the (painful) benefits of them, I reach out to one of them and get a good dose of Truth. They tell me something along the lines of, “That is NOT the truth – that is what you are seeing. That is not from God. Are you going to agree with what God says today or what you feel right now? What do you want?” And then I have to decide what I want to do – cling to the comfortable old glasses or reach for the shiny new ones. Inviting a few people I really trust to do this has probably been one of the best things I’ve ever done. The Truth shared in love is what sets free and empowers.
Some encouragement when it comes to changing perspectives:
– If you want to change and know someone who is where you want to be in life – someone who is thriving, not just surviving – reach out to them and ask if they would be willing to share what they see in your life. Take what they say and think about whether or not it might be true and if so, if it’s what you want.
– If you have a Spirit-filled church near you who regularly sees the fruit Jesus said would follow those who believe (people living transformed lives, getting healed, etc. according to Mark 16:17-18 and other verses), that is a great place to start learning a new perspective, too!
– On a similar note, another way I invite others to speak into my life is by reading books and listening to teachings that make my spirit cry “Yes!” that I can check against God’s Word to see if it is rooted in a firm foundation and is life-affirming. We were made for community and so much growth that I have experienced is through hearing what someone else learned and checking it out for myself. They often offer a perspective I had never even considered! This could be a great place to start if you don’t know anyone whom you want speaking into your life (and honestly, even if you do!).
– Lastly, a narrative or perspective can not overpower a belief system. For example, a huge belief system that religion has created is that God controls every little thing that happens in life. I mention this one because you can’t, for example, put on a pair of glasses that try to show you, “I’m safe” and at the same time have an underlying belief that worries God may take from you or hurt you or someone you love. You cannot look at life through a lens of security and at the same time believe in a volatile God who may want your child back, may want you to suffer poverty to teach you something, or may allow you to get sick so you can realize your need for Him. God gave you the ability to choose your glasses because He is only ever good and has a book full of promises you can stake your life on. So there truly is freedom to choose any narrative you want! Your narrative won’t change God but it will change what you experience of Him. If any of this resonates with you, I love this book (and am giving away a copy soon!). It tells the truth about a loving God who is only ever good and therefore, you get to choose your glasses and can have a firm foundation to build a perspective on.
New glasses aren’t comfortable. They feel all wrong – like they don’t fit right – maybe even unsafe (uncharted territory!), but they can also literally change everything you see and therefore how you think and what your future holds – and even how the past looks. Getting used to the way new glasses look and feel takes some practice – and that is more than okay. Ups and downs, back and forths, feeling like you’re doing it wrong or missed it – keep reaching for the new glasses and it’s all part of a journey of progress. Sometimes I think the ups and downs followed by choosing to keep moving forward into something good creates a lot stronger foundation than if it were all smooth sailing. Just don’t ever give up or stop moving forward. There is Grace for the journey.
Since I love real-life illustrations, here’s a story to close with about two different perspectives.
The other day I was getting out ingredients to make cookies and my daughter came in and asked if she could help. In my mind, I was going to whip up a batch quickly by myself – it would only take a few minutes – and then I could sit back and relax and enjoy my cookies with a clean kitchen in the background (mom dreams). I knew if I said yes to her, the task would go from a 10 minute one to at least a 20 minute one. I also know that I want my kids to have fond memories of preparing food in the kitchen together and I don’t want to be remembered as the mom who always wanted to do it alone, so I said yes. Within 5 minutes my precious girl had eggshell in the batter, coconut sugar scattered all over the floor from a dump went awry, and the recipe card was wet and almost unreadable due to egg and cocoa powder accidentally plopped on it. I don’t want her to ever feel that it’s not okay to make mistakes or that not doing things perfectly is a big deal or stresses me out, but I was sure tempted to give into a feeling of frustration, mainly because I was just tired.
But Grace offered a different perspective – one that saw the humor in one little mishap after another, all in the space of 5 minutes. It was laughable. Grace saw the dimples still on her little hands as she clumsily practiced a new skill – a skill that she will continue to learn and use for years to come (if she’s anything like her mama she will be making cookies regularly!). Grace laughed at the pile of sugar on the floor and said “what the heck” about the recipe card – it’s not hard to rewrite it. Actually, I think I’ll leave that stain there for as long as we can still read it because it’s not even really a stain at this point; it’s a memory. Grace allowed for sweet memories to be created where before frustration wanted to stare at a mess.
I have missed the Grace in any given moment so many times, but it’s the times like these that I’ve been thinking about it, looking for it, waiting for it, that it shows up and offers a different perspective and I am so thankful for that.
If you don’t want to keep getting what you’ve always gotten from life, here is your permission to try some new frames on!
Me? I want the Grace glasses! I want the eyes of faith. I want the glasses that stem from a foundation built on the unshakeable, never-changing truth that God is good, He won the victory over sin, sickness, and poverty and all the power of the enemy and seated me in heavenly places WITH Him in that place of victory, gave me His Spirit that will never leave me or forsake me and made me more than a conqueror and His dearly loved, highly favored child through Jesus. Just because He is good and He loves me. THOSE are the glasses I want to wear and glue on my face and pass out to everyone meet.
I’m excited about the next post. I have some practical, real-life encouragement to share on how to start rewriting your narrative!
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