Mid-Story Endings {The Grove: Story}

A couple of weeks ago I read Brene’ Brown’s most recent book Rising Strong. The subtitle is “the reckoning, the rumble, the revolution.” The cover also says, “If we are brave enough, often enough, we will fall. This is a book about what it takes to get back up.”

One part that stood out to me involves what we do in the middle of a story and because I knew it would be a theme for us, I sat up and paid attention.

Let’s say you:

  • Are unbelievably frustrated by a teammate who is consistently late to team meetings.
  • Overhear the amazing language skills of someone who has been on the field less time than you.
  • See a friend or family member on line, you Skype them, and they seem annoyed to hear from you.

You could see all of these happening, right? Because they are at the intersection of Normal and Life. So, the story has started, but it’s not resolved. It’s normal to play out what will happen next and envision how the story will end. According to Brene’, most of us finish our stories with some version of “not enough.”

  • A kinder, more spiritual person would attend the log in her own eye than notice this speck. Especially with eternity on the line for so many.
  • Her ministry is going to take off and I’m going to be scrambling for things to say in my newsletter.
  • I’m a nuisance and when I interrupt people I bother them.

I thought through how I finish stories. Here we get to my light bulb moment. It was one of those

OH MY WORD.

Really?

Is that what I think?

My version isn’t “I’m not enough,” my version is “I’m too much and I need to dial it back.” This week in conjunction with the Holy Spirit, start listening to how you express yourself both in your head and how you promote yourself to others.

I am a bit seasick over how consistent this message is in me. I asked a friend to review a piece I’d written and this is a direct quote: “Is this too hand waving? Is it too much?” I almost never ask if I need to add more umph, instead I ask if I need to tone me down. I was telling another friend about a job I had left and said, “If I had just been less, maybe all this crap wouldn’t have happened.” A friend doesn’t reply to a text and I think, “Oh my word, I’ve gone too far.” Too much, been less, gone too far.

Now please hear two points of clarification:

One, there is a need to read situations and to moderate ourselves. This is called wisdom and maturity. You can sense the difference between being wise and having a false tape going, right?

Two, when I told a friend “if I had just been less” she saw the danger I was flirting with and lovingly said, “You are not too much, you are abundant. That is the truth about you. There is so much in you, so I don’t want any less of you, so don’t start doing that please. Please don’t. Please.” (This was in a Voxer message and she’s Brittish. I wish you could hear this spoken over you in a soothing British accent. Isn’t this a blessing?).

The heart of the gospel isn’t “you need to be more” or “you need to be less” it is “you are enough.”

You are enough–because you are made in the Image of God.

You are enough–because any and all and forever your sins are covered by Jesus.

You are enoughbecause you are abundant.

Let that last one wash over you. You are abundant. The middle of our stories need to be infused with the gospel, not the false gospel of not-enough or too-much, but the life giving gospel of

  • You are enough on your team and team meetings are important. Being frustrated doesn’t mean you’re not attending to your own logs, it just means a boundary has been violated. You might need to talk to your teammate instead of creating stories in your head.
  • You are enough in your language ability and it is not a contest between you. You will be at a different place than others. This says nothing about your value!
  • You are enough in your family and with friends. They feel so comfortable with you they can be real with you. They were actually annoyed with someone else but felt safer showing you their annoyance.

Can you taste the power of the gospel infused into the intersection of Normal and Life. Sure, the Lofty and Special need the gospel too, but that’s not where we live. I am growing in asking myself mid-story, “Amy, what are you saying to yourself? Is it the gospel? Or a false message? How would God finish this story?”

Slowly, slowly, my self-talk is more and more sprinkled with the gospel and the ways God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit can enter a story and change the ending. And that, my friends, is good news!

How about you? Mid-story, do you tend to be not-enough? Or too-much?

*****

This is what we call The Grove.  It’s where we all gather to share our thoughts, our words, and our art on our weekly prompt.  So join us in the comments.  Show us your art work by adding an image. And link up your own blog posts on this week’s prompt.  Click here for details and instructions

27 Comments

  1. Danielle Wheeler September 24, 2015

    This is so great, Amy.  Oh, that we can all stop ourselves mid-story, identify the self-talk, and allow truth to change the ending!

    And you ARE abundant, and we love that about you.  Don’t ever dial it back.

    P.S.  See you SOON!!

    1. Amy Young September 24, 2015

      Thanks Danielle! Oh man, this is one I need to come back to again and again … here’s to the One who never wearies of joining in our stories and infusing them with Him. And Yes, yes, yes to seeing you soon!!!

  2. Leslie Verner September 24, 2015

    Amy, This is exactly what I needed to hear right now:  “The heart of the gospel isn’t “you need to be more” or “you need to be less” it is “you are enough.”  As someone who continually seems to need to relearn the importance of Being rather than Doing, this is perfect. We are enough in Christ.   Thank you for sharing this!   ~Leslie

    1. Amy Young September 24, 2015

      Ah yes, being and doing  — I know that dance too :)! Let’s keep reminding each other in love that being might call in a quieter voice, but it reaches further into our souls and invites us to be with God.

      1. Patty Stallings September 25, 2015

        Amy, this little comment is profound!

  3. Sarah Hilkemann September 24, 2015

    Wow, Amy! I really needed this in the current season I’m in. I have had an awful lot of negative, in-the-middle-of-the-story thoughts in my head. I’m learning I can’t do village life, at least not in this season, and I’ve been feeling like such a failure. I’m needing this Gospel-infused truth right at this intersection of messy, every day life. Thank you!! 🙂

    1. Amy Young September 24, 2015

      Oh Sarah, reading this makes me happy/sad. If it is an encouragement to you … for that I am happy and grateful. For the ways that the Enemy has sought to make you (and any of us think) that one path is more valuable than another for reasons that are NOT TRUE, makes me stinking mad. While from a human perspective of “wanting it to work” when it comes to village life, I can how the thought of failure can enter. But might I add a different perspective?

      What if failing is staying? And leaving is “success” — don’t know if you read the book club post this week, but God does not see failure and success they way we often do.

      And you, my friend from Connection Groups last fall, You are abundant. In a village, in a city, in a box, or with a fox. You are abundant. And loved by your heavenly Father for how wonderful you are and not where you pitch your tent. Much love to you, Sarah.

      1. Sarah Hilkemann September 25, 2015

        Amy, Jesus is using your words as balm for my soul today! Thank you for this and for being you and encouraging me to be me, no matter where I am. 🙂 Love to you (and the VA editors team as you meet together!)!

      2. T September 25, 2015

        ohhh!  an exercise would be to read green eggs and ham with that change in there!   I am enough in a boat with a goat!  brilliant, amy!

        1. Amy Young September 28, 2015

          There can be a fine line between brilliance and sleep deprived :)!!!

  4. Amy Boucher Pye September 25, 2015

    Oh my goodness this is so good Amy. Thank you for sharing. I love that your British friend named the lie in a loving way – and that speaks to me especially, for as an American in Britain I often feel I’m seen as ‘the loud American’ (even though I would be seen as quiet in the States) and I think I should dial things back. So your post really spoke to me – bless you and please don’t hold back your passion/love/energy!

    1. Amy Young September 25, 2015

      Amy, what a treat to have you comment! I’m struck as I read through the comments how easy it is for each of us to feel “too much” or “not enough.” Here’s to encouraging and loving on one another! And reminding us all of the truth — we are abundant.

  5. Ellie September 25, 2015

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    I’m a Brit who often feels she is “too much” and wonders if it’s because she’s Welsh, part TCK etc! I love this post http://bethwoolsey.com/2013/07/you-are-not-too-much-of-anything/ by Beth Woolsey on speaking to teenaged girls with a quote from a friend and parent:

    “If I could plant one message in your hearts and heads this week, it would be that you are not too much of anything.

    Not too tall, not too big, not too loud, not too quiet, not too fat, not too skinny, not too emotional, not too reserved, not too stuck up, not too grouchy, not too young, not too old, not too poor, not too immature, not too ugly, not too pretty, not too shy, not too dumb, not too embarrassing, not too new, not too anything.

    You are not too much of anything to be wonderful and lovable and LOVED.”

    I think I need to stick it on my mirror!

    I was also pondering recently, after a very tough time where I felt like I had lost myself a bit with lots of other pressures crowding in from outside and censoring voices, that it’s partly because I’m a woman and a Christian that I run this “internal censorship”. As a teenager I was a confident (except inside in places!) leader who set up a school newspaper, thought of neighbourhood initiatives etc. But over time I have absorbed somehow some unhealthy stuff which is not about being who God made me to be.

    During some soul searching late at night recently I wrote in my journal: “I have mistakenly conquered and controlled this assertive spirit in some attempt to be a good Christian (woman) according to men (people), not God.”

    I am so grateful to the wise outspoken women in my life. (I include you Amy and all who share at Velvet Ashes.) We have a God-given voice.  Thanks for being my community and helping me to rediscover me!

    1. Amy Young September 25, 2015

      Ellie, I tried to “clean up” that weird coding, but then it removed the whole message … it could be tired brain :). So, shall just leave it all so others can see your wise words! Thank you for linking that article — I think those kind of messages we need to hear again and again! Thanks for sharing a bit more of your story!

    2. T September 25, 2015

      Yes!  I read a horrible book last spring (it was Christian) that I allowed to mess with my mind until I named stuff out loud to my husband…it said that I should be folding his laundry happily instead of wanting to be me and pursue using the actual giftings that God has given me.  As women, we have so many different messages coming to us, even from the Christian world.  My husband is plenty happy to fold his own laundry, esp when it means I might have a chance to do something else that I was unique placed to do/say.  I am still wresting w/this a bit…I do want to have gracious words (this week’s post’s scripture about gracious words being like honeycomb), and have a gentle and kind spirit, but I also have quick discernment and my role in a team is often the Whip…now to do that word of knowledge, pointing out the truth thing in love is the hard part!

      1. Elizabeth September 27, 2015

        “My husband is plenty happy to fold his own laundry, esp when it means I might have a chance to do something else that I was unique placed to do/say.” Thankful there are men like this! Men who empower their wives to follow God’s call on their hearts. Mine is the same, and it’s always comforting to my spirit to hear of other men who feel the same way!

  6. Ellie September 25, 2015

    argh, not sure what happened with all that code at the top,sorry! – hope someone can edit it?!

  7. Rachel September 26, 2015

    I love reading your writings, Amy!

    I think it’s easy to feel caught in either one of the extremes.  Finding that perfect middle ground is the challenge.  Thank you for the sweet life-giving reminder that we are enough!  And I especially liked this: “There is so much in you, so I don’t want any less of you, so don’t start doing that please. Please don’t. Please.”

    1. Amy Young September 28, 2015

      Oh those extremes! I find that it’s hard to live in the messy middle, isn’t it? But that is lovingly where we keep being wooed 🙂

  8. Cecily September 26, 2015

    I often face the language battle–hearing others speak much more fluently than I, having been in-country for less time than I.  And I feel small and incapable, even though I know the hours–that accumulate into days, weeks and months–spent trying to tackle the language.  But part of my problem is that I am too concerned with what other people think of me.  So today the Lord said, “Live for the audience of One.”  He knows the struggling attempts I’ve made, He knows my limitations, and somehow He has still found a place for me in a foreign land.  So, thanks for the message that “I am enough”.

    1. Amy Young September 28, 2015

      Oh Cecily, this just gets to me because I think we can all relate to what you’re feeling and have experienced — if not in language study, in another area. You, dear sister, ARE enough. And can I add brave … when something is hard and someone keeps showing up, I think to myself, “That is bravery and I want to be like her.”

      1. Cecily September 28, 2015

        Thanks for these encouraging words!  If I must keep wearing the “hard” hat, I’ll do so in order to finish the course!

  9. Annalisa September 26, 2015

    Thanks for this-I needed to remember how many times I assume I know reality rather than trusting God. I can completely relate to the other two women living in the UK who feel they are ‘too much’. I have left far too many conversations here feeling aggressive and embarrassed (or felt fine leaving them only to have my ‘aha’ moment hours or days later) to have much confidence left. On the other hand, I need to remember that is not my own competence that I should base my actions on, but God’s power. I’m so often ‘finishing’ the stories I’m in with failure rather than faith.

    1. Amy Young September 28, 2015

      Finishing with failure rather than faith!! I LOVE THAT LINE. Now I have another potential tattoo: Finish with Faith. AND aren’t those aha moments hours later the worst?! I’m going to join with you in trusting that God doesn’t want us to muffle ourselves and we do need to be culturally sensitive, but he has far more freedom for us than shame (another F word — hahah, not that kind! Freedom!)

  10. Kristi September 27, 2015

    Amy, this came out of my thoughts on this post among other things in life. Thought I’d share.

    A Morning Prayer

    Father,
    Creator of my very
    Being,
    Speak.
    Speak over me
    Your Blessing
    Your Delight.

    Dear One,
    Before your heart was
    Formed
    I Knew it
    I Knew you
    All of your days are
    In
    My
    Hand
    Your tears I keep
    In
    A
    Bottle

    Your laughter is a precious
    Song
    Of
    Praise
    And over you I sing a
    Song
    Of
    Pleasure
    Deep Joy
    Delighting in the delight of giving you
    My
    Good
    Gifts
    You are not too much
    or too little
    You are
    Who
    I Am making you to
    Be
    My Daughter
    My Treasure
    My Love
    Remember
    And do not doubt
    I Am yours
    And you
    Are Mine
    Today
    This moment
    Now and
    Forever

    1. Amy Young September 28, 2015

      As always Kristi, when you offer us your poetry, you offer us yourself. This is a beautiful piece of you. Thank you 🙂

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