Monday, May 18, 2009

What's Your Story?

Each of us has a story. That story is the story of who we are: our struggles, our wounds, our victories, our failures, our loves and hopes and dreams fulfilled or unfulfilled. Each story is unique, and each story holds the seeds of our legacy. They are each a small part of the great story, the story of God's love, man's rejection, Christ's sacrifice, Satan's end.

Some of you know I work with a group of men who meet weekly to help each other overcome sins in their lives. We hold each other accountable for our actions. We encourage one another in the battle. And battle it is. This is a great group of brothers, and we have seen lots of powerful victories over the years. We've seen marriages restored, relationships rebuilt with God and with families, men changed from captives into warriors. It has been amazingly good to be part of this group of men.

But I knew there was something more.

I've felt for a couple of years that we needed something beyond accountability. We needed real brotherhood. I've been in that kind of relationship before, or at least on the fringes of it, and it far surpasses what accountability can provide. I began to pray for a way to move into true brotherhood, and to talk to others about it, mainly the men I looked upon as leaders in the larger group.

Several months back, a small group of us started something new (to us), and the results have been astounding. We started with something so simple, and so obvious, it seems like nothing.

We told our stories.

Each time we met, one man would take the whole time, usually 90 or 120 minutes, and tell us his story. Starting with "I was born . . ." he told us the story of his childhood, his adolescence, his young adulthood, his early marriage, his career . . .his life. One of the men who has been through this before modeled it for us. He focused on the wounds he had encountered over the years, especially in his early years. It seems that every one of us has wounds, and those have molded who we are and how we respond to things for the rest of our lives. Satan takes those wounds, the "arrows" as they are sometimes called, and he gets us to build our identity around them.

This simple step, of telling each other our stories, has had amazing, dramatic effect. First, we now know each other in ways we never did before. We know things about each other that our wives don't know. It's not that we have hidden things from our wives. Far from it. This process has revealed things that it never occurred to us to tell others.

Second, in every case we have come to see the reasons why we are the way we are. For some, we see the roots of the simmering anger. For others, we see the rejection that led to a fear of abandonment. For others, the roots of addictive behaviors are clear . . .but not always to the man telling the story.

That's the third thing that has come out of this. In every case we have seen things that were unclear or completely unknown to the one telling the story. When we are the recipient of the wounds, when we have felt the arrows, we are too close to the pain to know what is going on. All we know is that we hurt, and we don't want to hurt like that again. So we bury it or mask it in some way that isn't even conscious. It's unknown to us until one of our brothers shows it to us.

And that's the fourth thing. Once exposed to the light, these wounds begin to heal. Lies live in darkness. They cannot survive in the light.

That's the next step: renouncing lies. After that, the final step is to see each other's glory. I'll talk more about each of these later.

Our plan is to continue meeting together for a few more weeks, and then for each of us to begin another group, where we can teach others to tell their stories and to renounce the lies we've all believed. If what we've seen so far is any indication, this will absolutely transform the men of our church. And it won't stop there. Transformed lives transform lives.

So, what's your story?

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