I’m writing about stories this summer. Not just any story…the real story. The one we’re living right now. It’s the same one you’ve been living since the day beautiful you came into this world. I fascinated by our stories, maybe that’s because one day, our story will be our legacy.
I want to choose well what I leave behind.
For me, part of choosing well going forward, is learning from the past. If you’re familiar with the Old Testament, you know that the people of Israel were constantly building altars of remembrance. These altars would help them and future generations to look back and remember some part of their story.
When thinking about my story there are a couple of ways, looking back has been helpful. Last week I asked if you’d ever thought about how you want to be remembered after you die. Since my twenties when I first heard a pastor urge the congregation to write their own eulogy, I’ve done some version of that exercise three or four times. For me, there hasn’t been a better catalyst for change, than writing down how I’d like to be remembered and asking myself: Am I living that way?
But there has been another exercise (for lack of a better term), that’s impacted me almost as much as writing my eulogy. In Beth Moore’s Bible study, Believing God, she suggests you write a timeline of your life, in 10 year increments. In each of those 10 year spans prayerfully list your mile markers…your hurts, your joys, your accomplishments & your disappointments.
I resisted this for days when I was doing that study. I was in my forty’s and I’d been through my share of therapy and counseling where I had to relive the past. The last thing I wanted to do was actually put pen to paper and list out the pain, the failures and the disappointments. Eventually I gave in and wrote out that timeline and when I was done (it took me 3 days of morning quiet-time), I was pleasantly surprised. To explain my surprise, here are a couple of excerpts from my prayer journal at the time…(2005)
“…looking at the timeline it’s amazing how many mistakes I’ve repeated-amazing how much turmoil in my life has been self inflicted…and more amazing still, how many times Father God has lavished me with mercy, grace and deliverance”
and another entry:
“…there’s so much turmoil on that timeline, some I brought on myself, some I believe, ordained by God Himself, but one truth resonates – every bit of turmoil (eventually) brings me closer to the One who made me…maybe, in a way, the turmoil has been a gift.”
Writing that timeline wasn’t easy but it honestly increased my faith to see part of my story, even the painful parts, on paper and realize that He is always working. Even through pain and disappointments, He’s working.
Have you perchance ever done a similar exercise? If you haven’t and you think you’d like to give it a try HERE is a good template of a timeline to give you an idea of how it looks.
And if you have (in any way) taken a look back at your life, I’d love to hear what you learned.
Sending you love today my friends