Our lives write a story we tell ourselves. What story do you tell yourself about yourself?

The story you tell yourself about yourself involves the actions of your life that float like driftwood in your memories. How we think about those floating-memory chunks — our past behaviors within our relationships, jobs, organizations — determine the stories we repeat to ourselves.

Certainly our story lines, if graphed, have ups and downs, but knowing that we are wired and inclined toward the negative — scientific research shows that— we need to often restory our good lines, good paragraphs, good chapters.

I know what you sometimes think. You haven’t always acted you roles well. Please rethink your self-critical mind. Do not judge yourself by comparing yourself to a perfect form of you, to some fabricated, idealized, phantom-perfection that has never existed nor can.

Tell your story in a self-inspiring way. When were you brave? I know you were and are. Tell that bit to yourself.

I remember helping struggling, under-resourced college students write their first paragraphs in an English class I taught. English was their second language. These working adults received corrections on their first drafts. They rewrote the paragraphs for better grades. They were so brave to be in school, to try so hard.

We all have brave moments. Of course we have been fearful. There is no person who hasn’t been, or if there was, they weren’t thinking clearly.

I remember taking risky career jobs that required the inventing — or reinventing — of organizations. Other visionary professionals worked there too. We all did more than we were paid for. We made positive steps forward together. This was good.

At one new and growing church we built a whole raft of positive classes and fun experiences for children. I told the newly hired staff, “We have the best jobs. We think it one day. We turn it into reality the next.“ Those realities remain in those children, now adults.

When were you helpful to a child? To an adult dealing with multiple difficulties? Remember that. I know you have done good things.

When were you good to an organization? You took a volunteer role, or you were underpaid. You worked hard anyway. Perhaps the organization wounded you. They can do that. Many organizations have a common problem, a body count, casualties from biases, abuses, jealousies.

Maybe your hardest moments were your best. Maybe you overcame a rejection. Maybe once you exposed an injustice. Maybe you didn’t say a cruel thing you thought. Perhaps you accepted your body as normal instead of hating it for its perceived imperfections. Those were big wins.

Being kind, this is another part of your story and mine. We have been kind. When were you kind? You were. You are.

In one struggling school I taught at we filled the display cases in the halls with student’s essays, publicly displaying their work, bragging on them. That’s what they needed, kind recognition, regard, worth.

When were you kind? Remember it. Fight for that part of your story. Our best self is found in small and humble kindnesses. We gave a word of encouragement, we withheld a negative judgment, we asked someone the right question and listened as they figured out their next step. Kind.

At one organization where I worked we repurposed spaces that had deteriorated and fallen into disuse. We raised funds to build a gorgeous interior courtyard that functioned as a garden, a playground, a venue. Then we repurposed and beautifully remodeled an unused building as a counseling center. People gave money. People with extra resources gave money. Those with very little gave money. Businesses and individuals donated labor. Generous. People can be very generous.

Each of our stories contain generosity. When were you generous? Tell that story to yourself. I know you were generous. Maybe it was a small piece. Some of our best actions may exist in a small generosity that we have underplayed, maybe forgotten, but the recipient remembers.

Fight for your good story. Yes, I know, we all have been egocentric, selfish. All. But there’s no need to measure ourselves against a perfect version of ourselves or another person who wasn’t ever selfish. They don’t exist.

When we remember our good story we are not denying our former mixed motives or imperfections, or others. We are simply telling the good truth. We are being needfully self-supportive.

This is very necessary. Why? Because our own voices have the potential to be hard or supportive.

Of course there are times to remember our mistakes. These are times of repentance. These are also times of learning.

But consider this. The Bible talks about God removing our sins as far as the east is from the west. That’s an infinite distance. If he forgives us in Christ, and he does, who are we to attempt to drag something back from the infinite east or infinite west and set up a false court against ourselves? This court only exists in our own imaginations. It isn’t real. It is a false, illegitimate court.

When were you forgiving of yourself? May that be now. Put off a negative thought or a distorted image of yourself. Shove your boat off from it. Sail away. I know you can. Put up a kind, good, brave and generous sail as you boat forward.

Tell yourself the best story of your life. Treasure that. Carry it inside you. It’s the story that is filled with the image of God stamped at creation into you, your goodness, kindness and generosity.

I love you. I love your good story. We all love your good story. We especially love the smallest pieces of it. The whole of good earth and good heaven loves the most common and humble bits and pieces of your good story.

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