Let’s go out to the movies

[In the movie guy voice] In a world…

How would the movie guy narrate a trailer for your personal story? Would yours be a feel-good film, a tragicomedy, a documentary about succeeding against all odds?

We all have a movie about our life that plays in our mind. Events that mesh with the narrative are added in, and those that don’t get left on the cutting room floor. So if your story is primarily a positive one, it’s easier to overlook pop-up trials. If, however, your film is about being a victim, the compliments people pay you and the victories you attain won’t make the cut.

You can re-mix the movie. Consider this mock trailer that presents the horror film The Shining as a rom-com:

While this is an absurd example, it is possible to create an authentic, alternate narrative by going back into the cutting room and taking note of the pieces at your feet. Where can you add them in to your movie, or how can you make a whole new arc out of them?

It’s a new year. When next December rolls around, how will you want the movie guy to summarize these twelve months? Here’s mine: in a world where Laura did not please everyone or get everything done, she still loved and let others love her. Take control of your movie, and take control of your life.

YouTube video “The Shining Recut” is by neochosen.


Rising Strong: owning our stories

Here is my single biggest takeaway from Rising Strong:

When I am feeling overwhelmed, I need to ask, “What is the story I’m telling myself?”

Creative Commons "Story Road" by umjanedoan is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Creative Commons “Story Road” by umjanedoan is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

I am too quick to assume – that the person who just tore into me is irredeemably ornery, that I’m not good enough, or that I am too good to be the one creating the problem. None of these default narratives points me toward reflecting more deeply on the situation, reaching out for help, or looking for a solution. They are interpretations, and narrow, blame-inducing ones at that.

As an extreme introvert, I am especially prone to spinning a whole story in my head without fact-checking it, then acting on it like it is true. “What is the story I’m telling myself?” is a way of getting out of my head and sharing my perspective without making hearers defensive, since I’m not claiming that my outlook is gospel.

Instead, Brené Brown suggests I get at the whole story by asking myself:

  • What am I leaving out in my default narratives?
    • What am I feeling? Why?
    • What am I thinking?
    • What am I believing?
    • What am I doing?
  • What information do I need to flesh out and own this story?
    • about myself
    • about others

Not only are these the questions that I often neglect to ask, they are the ones that congregations need help raising to address subversive narratives of shame and blame. Churches – especially well-established ones – will have trouble moving forward until they are able to unearth and discuss sources of  resistance. Only when they are well-aware of feelings and dynamics will they be able to love and trust enough to risk doing new things.