Middle Age. The period of life between youth and old age. I don’t feel like I should be in the middle, most of the time, but the calendar tells me otherwise. Oh, no doubt my mind has tried to trick me into believing I’m still in the throws of my youth, but I’m quite certain there is a limit to the number of times we are allowed to turn 21. I’ve reached that limit.

It’s common to enter a stage of evaluating our life so far when we become a member of the middle-aged club. I’ve heard it said that this is a time where we gain more insight about where we’ve been, where we’re going, and begin accepting and understanding much about our lives.

I have no idea if this is true for everyone, but it’s certainly been true for me. I’ve seen it happen for others as well.

Several years ago I became fascinated with idea of seeing our lives in the context of story. I stumbled on Donald Miller’s and it has literally transformed my thinking. In simplistic terms, he uses the concepts of story to help unpack the events in our lives. Sounds easy enough. Can I just say, this is one of the hardest exercises I have ever done. There were a few times I flat out shut the book thinking there is no way, no how I’m gonna start digging up bones. I wouldn’t pick it up for a several weeks. I’m glad I didn’t leave it to be a dust collector on my bookshelf.

Pain is universal. It is a doorway through which all of us walk at one time or another. What makes Miller’s Storyline transforming is that as you unpack your story, you also begin to discover the redemptive qualities of your pain and negative experiences. Life is a mix of good and bad, and both have shaped the person you are today. Understanding both, I’ve learned, is the greatest gift you can give yourself and your relationships.

God has a purpose for our lives, but so often we wander, drift and question what that purpose is for us specifically. The burning question “Why am I here?” lingers.

Looking for God’s redemptive qualities in our story has a way of re-framing our pain. Clearly understanding the major events that have shaped us, good and bad, brings clarity and meaning. More importantly, it allows us to see a bigger picture for ourselves. Your story becomes the framework to finding purpose, healthier relationships, and supercharging your most important roles.

So as the calendar turns and a new year begins, reflecting on life so far has brought me to conclude a few things about my story. They aren’t what I expected before I started trying to understand my story as a big picture, learning to tie the strands of time together.

  • Love fiercely. Walls are for houses, not for hearts
  • It is marked by an enormous amount of grace. Grace changed me once it became more than church talk and the stuff of good songs.
  • Dispense grace and forgiveness often and quickly. Holding onto things will work against you. Every. Single. Time.
  • Some of the deepest hurts have been my greatest gifts. I can see now that God’s no is necessary to save us from ourselves.
  • Clouds lift, light drives out darkness, and seasons don’t last forever. Hope has a way of rising in the most unexpected times.
  • There are hurts in this life we can’t explain. Trying to be “okay” with those hurts is a recipe for defeat. Still, if I’m willing, I can take that pain and find its redemptive purpose. For example, when we tell our stories and they bring hope to someone who really needs hope.
  • Celebrate the victories and learn from the failures. Too often I focus on the wrong thing and forget all the wonderful things I’ve accomplished.
  • Blessings are everywhere if I choose to see them. Literally everywhere.
  • The wild journey of God’s pursuit during some of the darkest times of my life opened my eyes to grace and mercy like I’ve never experienced before. Understanding that God is relentless in his pursuit of your heart, no matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done, changes a person.
  • Feelings aren’t facts, and the universe is not conspiring against me.
  • I am loved, valued, and worth the effort, and so are you!

This song, love it. What’s your story? Have you unpacked it? Do you think there are parts of your story that can have a meaningful impact on the lives of others?

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