Rewriting Your Life Story

by Andy Wood on October 21, 2011

in Enlarging Your Capacity, Esteem, Five LV Laws, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Principle of Legacy

I know a guy named Garrett who has completely changed my impression of him in a matter of a couple of years.  When I first met him, he came across as a slacker – lazy, unmotivated, and a pretty bad student.  But the last time I saw him he had rewritten his story – at least the one that played out in my head.  Truth is, Garrett is sharp, actually quite brilliant as a communicator, and a potential world changer.

What made the difference?

Time.  Perspective.  A little experience.  In Garrett’s case, he never stopped anything or changed anything.  I just had more time to get to know what he was capable of.  The one who needed changing was me.

Sarah and Ben were a different case.  Sarah came back to school to finish something the Lord had started in her heart decades ago.  Problem is, her “reputation” in the academic community was stained by a string of failures that go back 30 years to a completely different season in her life.  The problem wasn’t that she couldn’t do the work; the problem was that during that season her life was spinning out of control.  School was just one of the casualties.

Ben’s trajectory was just the opposite.  He was everybody’s All-American, captain of the Awesome Squad in every dimension of his life.  Ben was the kind of guy that if he had grown a tooth out of the top of his head, Crest would have featured him in a commercial and a year later we’d all be wearing hats with dentures on them.  Simply put, he couldn’t lose.

But he did.  Badly.  Lost his family.  Destroyed his career.  Ruined his reputation because when everybody was telling Ben how awesome he was as a kid, nobody ever bothered to teach him how to be an adult.

To Ben and to Sarah and to countless other lives I have been blessed to know, I have said the same thing:  The end of the story hasn’t been told about you yet. You’re not dead yet, so quit acting like you are.  If I have learned anything through success and failure, acceptance and rejection, hero and zero seasons, it is that all of us have the capacity to rewrite our story if we want to.

Let me hasten to say that I’m not talking about putting a new spin on your old ways.  This isn’t manipulation of your image; it’s transformation of your life.

Second, the ideas I’m going to mention here aren’t reserved for massive overhauls alone.  Even the little changes, the baby steps of growth, walk these paths as well.

So if you want a different ending to your story, here are twelve ways to change the plot

1.  Put your reputation in God’s hands.

Stop trying to control what other people think.  Stop being controlled by what other people think.  At the end of the day – and of your life – the only opinion that matters is God’s.  And you’re already famous in His eyes.

2.  Change your thinking.

As you think, so you are (Proverbs 23:7).  People in Recovery have taught us for years, “You don’t have a drinking problem – you have a thinking problem.”  To rewrite your story, substitute “drinking” for whatever you see as your biggest obstacle.  Acting differently means thinking differently.

3.  Feel your feelings.

Quit medicating your pain with stuff that in the end only causes more pain.  Mourn your losses if you need to.  But also feel the joy of what a rewritten story can mean.  You may need to get some help with this.  Get the help.  Today.

4.  Surrender your will.

I’m not asking you to change what you want.  I don’t even think you know what you truly want.  I’m asking you to change who or what you serve.  True, you may have been serving your greedy little self.  Or you may have been serving a false image of God.  Or a magical image of somebody else.  Try praying this daily for 21 days – “Lord, I surrender my will to You, the One True God, and I will let you define what that means.”

5.  Do something different physiologically.

Try this little experiment.  Fold your hands together, fingers interlocked, in front of you.  Now, fingers still interlocked, raise your arms up and put your hands behind your head, Ferris Bueller-style.  Notice what that simple gesture does to your breathing and even to your relaxation level.  Imagine what could happen if you started actually working out or resting or doing something different with your body daily.

6.  Change your reputation with yourself.

If you want people to see you differently, maybe it’s time to shut off the trash talk you’ve been hurling at yourself.  Or maybe it’s time you imagined yourself with a different label than “victim,” “loser,” “failure,” or some of those words you say to yourself in secret that you dare not say when others are around.  Try replacing that with the truth of who God says you are.

7.  Make peace with your family.

In most cases, while you can reinvent friends or workmates, you’re “stuck” with family.  But that’s not a bad thing.  It requires forgiveness and growth –  sometimes restoration and healing – to walk the long haul with the same people.  Walk itLive it.  It may take a while to see how this is redefining you, but trust me if you can… it is.

8.  Learn the meaning of “friend.”

There really is a friend who sticks closer than a brother, and I’m not just talking about Jesus (and neither is that verse in Proverbs).  If the people you call “friends” helped lead you to the mess you’re in, it’s time for new friends.  If the people you thought were friends bailed on you at the first sign of trouble, it’s time for new friends.  You’re a fool to try to live without friends.  But you’re just as much a fool to be manipulated or controlled by vain friends.  Don’t have any?  Ask God for one.  One will do for now.

9.  Get Engaged in Community.

We are saved as individuals, but we grow in community.  When I moved to West Texas 16 years ago, I stumbled into a new community of people who welcomed me, loved me, received me, and received from me.  The look of my community has changed over the years.  But what hasn’t is the truth that we need a larger community to draw strength, wisdom, and accountability from.

10.  Know your bid-ness.

Yes, I’m talking about your money.  This wisdom comes straight from a guy who helped me years ago in a time of crisis.  “How bad is it?” he wanted to know.

“I don’t even know,” I replied, lost in a daze of brokenness.

“Well, one thing I wanna tell ya’,” he said.  “Ya’ got ta’ know your bid-ness.”  He was right.

11.  Reexamine your career.

Maybe it’s time for a change.  Maybe it’s time to go back to school.  Every day I teach mid-life, mid-career professionals to take their professional game to a new or a higher place.  They’re heroes to me.  And the brutal truth is that sometimes you can’t change who you are without changing what you do for a living – or how you do it.

12.  Resist your attacker.

In one out of twelve cases, like the one with Garrett, the problem isn’t with you.  Maybe you’re doing everything right and are being attacked for it.  When you lay your reputation and your will before the Lord and ask Him what needs to change and He says “Nothing,” then stay the course.  Give God time to change the hearts of people.  You just love them, and keep being who you are, without apology.  Resist the enemy.  He’ll flee.


The end of the story really hasn’t been told about you yet.  Me, neither.  Let’s just make sure when somebody reads to the end of our book, they see how we finished well.

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