Don’t Like your Story? New Book Provides Secret to Living a Better One
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Everyone has a story. The problem for some is that we don’t like the adventure we have lived. Our life has not turned out the way we thought it would. Sometimes we just want to throw this event or that situation away because it makes us feel uncomfortable, angry, or depressed. The end result can be messy and painful.
Author Sharon Jaynes believes that God can turn our broken stories into beautiful moments. In her latest book, When You Don’t Like Your Story: What If Your Worst Chapters Could Become Your Greatest Victories?, Jaynes provides readers with valuable tools to take even the most painful chapters of our lives and turn them into something marvelous.
I recently spoke with Sharon about why personal misery is such a problem in our culture, how a person can successfully move forward in life despite disappointment, and a few tips on getting enough breathing room to heal.
There are a lot of miserable people around who feel like things haven’t worked out in their lives in the way they had hoped. Why is this such a problem in our culture?
I think we have a very unrealistic expectation of what life should be like on this side of Heaven. And the key there is ‘this side of Heaven.’ With everything going on in this world, we're going to have trouble and we're going to have tribulation. But somehow we have kind of forgotten that. I say this culture feels like God owes them something. And if we are Christians, then life should be easier than it is. But the truth is, we live on this side of the Fall (of man) and it's going to be hard. I think people are disappointed right now because of COVID-19 and all the other things that have gone on in 2020. I think the word we've heard over and over almost every day is “unprecedented”.
Things that had happened in 2020, have devastated so many people. I think that what has happened with COVID, racial tension, and all the politics has just ramped everybody’s emotional temperature upward. They're just on edge anyway, because of all that. And then we look at all the other areas in our lives that just aren't turning out like we thought they would. Whether it's marriage, whether it's our finances, whether it's jobs, there's just a lot of disappointment in people's lives right now.
One thing that's different with our culture right now is that when we struggle with disappointment, we tend to get stuck there. And that's what I want to help all of us do, that is to learn how to move past that disappointment, not get stuck in it. God's writing the story. And so we become disappointed and we grab His hand. He wants to keep writing that story. But so many times, we grab that pen out of His hand and get stuck. We don't need to get stuck there. We need to continue moving with God because there are great possibilities when we refuse to stop in the middle of a story and determine to keep moving forward with the flow of God's pen.
What the inspiration or the catalyst for writing When You Don’t Like Your Story?
The catalyst was watching people get stuck in a bad story. We all love a good story, don't we? When my son was growing up, he would say, "Mommy, tell me a story." And I'd say, okay, but you tell me the first line. And he would say something like, "Once upon a time, there was a leaf. Once upon a time that was a dragon." Then I would make up a story and it always had a good ending. We love a good story, but most people don't like their own story. It's not usually the whole of our story that we don't like. It's usually certain parts of our story that we don't like. And we focus on those. We've got parts of our story that we wish weren't in it. We have pages that we would love to rip out and pretend that they never happened.
We need to look through the right lens to see what God wants to do with that story. And I am not saying that we need to pretend the stories aren't there. I'm not saying that this is a great act of make-believe or which is pushing it aside and playing pretend. No, I am saying that we can take what we consider to be the worst parts of our stories and look and say how God wants to use that for good. One sentence that I wrote is we can wrestle redemption from the jaws of brokenness and then allow God to use it for good. But we've got to get to some other steps before we can even allow God to use it for good. That happens in healing steps to move from being wounded, to having a beautiful scar that God can use.
How can someone effectively view and understand why bad things happen and how can they successfully move forward?
I think we have to go back and look at Genesis Chapter 3. And if some has Genesis 3 as the backdrop for why bad things happen, we're going to always misinterpret our circumstances and misinterpret what is going on in the world in a negative sense. We know that Chapters 1 and 2 of Genesis … when God created the earth, the world, and everything we see. At the end of each day, He said, "It is good." And then when He created man, God said, "It is very good." The Hebrew actually says exceedingly good. But we know that's not how the story ended. That was just the beginning. That’s because in Genesis Chapter 3, it starts with the words, "Now the serpent …" We know that God gave Adam and Eve all kinds of freedom. When He gave them the one restriction, He said, "You are free."
Now, hang on to that. You are free to eat from tree in the garden, except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. So, what does the devil do? What does Satan do in Chapter 3? He came in and tempted Eve and Adam with the very thing that God told them not to do. And listen, isn’t that what the devil does today? Whatever it is you don't have, Satan's going to say you'll be happy if you have that. If you're not married, you'll be happy if you are married. If you are married, you'll be happy if you're married to someone else. That's still how he works today. It's so important for us to understand what happened in Genesis 3, because Satan still uses the same tactics on us today.
So, the Fall happened in Genesis 3, and because of that fall everything good fell apart. That's where we have evil in the world. That's why we have evil people committing evil against one another. And if we don't understand the why of it, we're going to look for reasons that are not the right reasons. And the devil is going to try to fill in those gaps of what we don't know. So we need to make sure we're getting that from the truth.
A lot of people just can’t let go. They are well intentioned but just can’t seem to leave the “scene of the crime” of their lives so to speak. How can people give themselves enough breathing room to heal?
I think it all begins with a decision. Do I want to get well? We know that when Jesus went to that pool where there were a lot of sick people sitting around. We know that there was a lame man that had been there for 38 years. Jesus walked up to that man and said something that seems very strange. He asked him, “Do you want to be healed?” And we read that and think of course he does. But the question is, did he really? And the question is when I'm talking with people, I'm thinking in my mind, do you really want to be well because we can get very used to our wounds. It becomes who we are. I am an abuse victim. This has happened to me. And this is who I am. I can't help the way I am because this happened to me as a child. I have family members that are stuck in a bad story because they can't let go of what happened in their past.
But you know what? We have to ask ourselves the question, do I really want to get well? And to want it well, you're going to have to make some changes in your life. I don't mean to be picking on the man by the pool, but you know what? If he was healed, his life was going to have to change. He couldn't sit by that pool in bed. He would have to get a job, become a part of the community. Things are going to have to change. And for us to decide that we want to get well means that we have to move forward and leave this behind. I call that picking at scabs. We tend to pick at emotional scabs, telling how it has happened, what was done to was how it made us feel, how that person was wrong. We can pick and pick and pick and pick. . So, the first step is that we have to make a decision that we want to get well.
I was about 38 when God came to me and said, ‘Are you ready to let that go? Are you ready to be healed? Will you take that idol off the shelf that you've been dusting off? Take it off the shelf, get rid of it, and let me heal you. Let me make you whole. Let me get into the bones of your true identity, of who you are as a child of God. And that your identity is not that label that you sewed on your own sleeve as a kid, and move forward. So, I know this from experience. It's not something that I haven't grappled with myself. Then, once I told God, yes, I am ready to quit picking at the scab and let it go. Then, the healing process began.
Final question, after people have read When You Don’t Like Your Story, what would you like your readers to take away from that experience? What is your greatest hope for the book?
My greatest hope is in the subtitle. What if your worst chapters could become your greatest victories? We've talked about forgiving others and forgiving ourselves, but says that God uses all things for good. The good of that is when we turn around and see what we've gone through for good. And once we turn around and use our story, this is how God got me through. This is how God turned my story around. This is how God wrote a different ending to a very difficult story, because that's what forgiveness does. It's changing the ending to that story. Once we share with someone else what we've gone through, and it helps them to get through what they're going through in their current experience, that is where the victory comes in. And that's where our most difficult chapters, our worst chapters, can become our greatest victories. God can use it for good.
To Purchase When You Don't Like Your Story: What If Your Worst Chapters Could Become Your Greatest Victories?:
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