O God, we have heard it with our own ears—
our ancestors have told us of all you did in their day, in days long ago.
(Psalm 44:1, NLT)
I like how the Message translates this verse: “We’ve been hearing about this, God, all our lives. Our fathers told us the stories their fathers told them,”
Whether we know it or not, we pass on stories to our children. So, we must ask ourselves, what are the stories we are telling? Because these stories will become a part of who they are and will be passed down to their children.
This truth was conveyed in the movie Inside Out by Pixar/Walt Disney Pictures. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. In the story, Riley’s loving parents passed on stories (the movie calls them core memories) of love and laughter. While the movie goes on to depict the struggle Riley has with conflicting and even repressed emotions, I want to focus more on the stories her parents gave her.
We are only given a glimpse. But they were good. They gave Riley confidence in who she was and a sense of where she fits in the world. Of course, these stories can be turned upside down in the midst of life’s changes (as happened to Riley), but when the good stories are reinforced, we can navigate the changes and come through even stronger.
However, sometimes, the stories we’ve received as children are not the same story our fictional Riley received.
Sometimes we receive negative stories. Sometimes we’re told we’re no good, we’ll amount to nothing, we don’t matter. Or we hear that life sucks and the world is always out to get us.
Sometimes we’re told that to survive, we need to rely on a substance to get us through. Or that we need to get while the gettin’ is good. Or that its okay to run others down, to always put ourselves first, and if we’re not happy, to move on until we are.
These stories are not life giving. They are life draining.
We can choose, however, to change the stories. It takes work, it takes being intentional, it takes choosing a new story every day. But it can be done.
Because our Heavenly Father always has a better story. He tells us He loves us and that we do matter and He has a plan for us. He says, yes, in this life there will be trouble, and yes, there is an enemy who seeks to take us down. BUT – He says – I am greater and I have overcome the world and the enemy is defeated.
He tells us to rely on Him for our strength and to get us through. When we do, we won’t just survive, we will THRIVE. He will provide for us and that in His kingdom, the first will be last and the last will be first. He tells us to encourage one another and to love one another. He tells us real joy comes from within, from the hope He has placed in us, not in our circumstances.
Choose today which story you will tell. For it will make a difference. It will make a difference in your life. And it will make a difference in the legacy you leave. Because as the Psalmist says, “Our fathers told us the stories their fathers told them,”
What stories will your children tell?
Heavenly Father, Let me hold fast to that which is true: the good stories passed down to me. Rewrite the negative stories I have received. From this day forward, let my stories be true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious, the best, the beautiful, and things to praise. And may I pass down a story worth telling.
Grace & Peace