Living a good story
Living a good story
25 October 2021
I have always loved stories. When I was a child, my mum would sit down and read Enid Blyton’s The Faraway Tree to my sister and me. The fantastical stories about siblings who discovered a magical tree – plus an ever-changing land above it – enthralled me. And I relished the security of knowing they would make it home safely, despite facing bizarre and scary obstacles.
These characters compelled me to live a good, brave story. But as I grew up and went on my own adventures, I realised things don’t always pan out with a storybook ending. Like the time I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder – there was no magical cure waiting for me. Instead, I spent years doing intensive therapy and took medication to start healing.
Likewise, while Blyton’s heroes experienced no trauma after their misadventures, I still wrestle with depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder. For a while, I even wondered if I was capable of living. But even in those moments, stories and songs reminded me that some version of happiness was out there. And for many years, I lived in my own cocoon of healing, nurtured by these characters and stories until I was ready to take flight.
And that’s when I experienced the true power of stories – real stories. The ones we live every day. You see, as I shared my story, I saw it help other people. And the imperfect and broken chapters of my life gave people the language to live theirs. Granted, as a writer, this was very literal for me. I wrote blogs and books and social media captions. I saw my words on T-shirts and even a few tattoos. I had conversations with friends and family. It was extraordinary – as miraculous as finding a magical faraway tree in the woods of life.
I don’t have an explanation for my pain or for the struggles you have faced. But I know that God can use our story to help other people once we heal and find community. In the Bible’s book of Genesis chapter 50, verse 20, a man called Joseph (the one with the technicolour dreamcoat) captures this perfectly, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.”
Joseph meant this literally – his brothers sold him into slavery out of jealousy, and he became prime minister of Egypt. Joseph saved his people from famine – talk about living a good story! In the same way, God can use the pain-filled parts of your story to help others. How? Well, you start living it one day at a time. You ask for help, and you survive, and you heal, and then you thrive. There will be tears and ups and downs. And eventually, you realise that living a good story is more rewarding than reading a fictional one. Because God can use anything for good – just wait and see.