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16 April 2021
We are more than the circumstances of our lives
Words Bryce Davies
I wonder if we sometimes define ourselves by how we tell our story.
I often say things like, ‘I’m just a plumber – not the sharpest tool in the shed.’
'I didn’t do well at school and ended up in a trade that involves sewage.'
'I haven’t got a degree and will not be discovering any complex new strategies to change the world, but hey, if the toilet is overflowing or you need someone to pick up heavy things – I’m your man.'
The problem with this story is that it sometimes boxes me as deficient, and can prevent me from reaching my true potential.
I work with people who also have stories that have defined their lives. Stories that often involve trauma, abandonment, poor choices and failure – even prison. Many of my friends can sometimes be trapped in dreadful stories that define their lives.
But these stories are not the whole truth. My friends are also resilient, creative and generous. We know this is true and it’s wonderful when people start to believe more positive stories about themselves. We just need to see past the exterior and get to the deeper truths.
My lovely wife Sue has a tattoo on her arm which reads, ‘Beautifully made’. It refers to a verse in the Bible – Psalm 139, verse 14. Sue was born without a left thigh bone and has wrestled with the story that she is unacceptable or not as attractive as others. Sue’s tattoo reminds her that she is a child of God and that the physical does not define what makes a wonderful human being. She is actually beautiful, determined and successful.
We are all inadequate or lacking in some way, and it can be easy to focus on the story of how this lack plays out in our lives. This can become our defining story.
There is beauty and goodness all around us. We are loved and valued and part of a bigger story that includes God’s grace and mysterious power to help us rise to wholeness and purpose, no matter what our circumstances.
Major Bryce Davies is a Salvation Army officer (pastor) in Queensland.