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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

What's the Title of your Book?

"Self-pity in its early stages is as snug as a feather mattress. Only when it hardens does it become uncomfortable. " ~ Maya Angelou

How often do you hear yourself saying, "Oh, if only I...(fill in your secret that would lead you to happiness here)". For years, my "Oh, if only I" statement was, "Oh, if only I hadn't had cancer, I would have had a happier and more productive life." I was convinced that if I hadn't been diagnosed with cancer at the age of 18, I wouldn't have taken so long to go through college, and therefore I would have had my life all situated by now and be "where I should be" by now.

With my "Oh, if only" statement, I stuck a label right to my forehead to define who I was and what my life was going to be like. My label read, "I have cancer. My life is and always will be horrible because of it. Nice to meet you." It was how I defined myself. I wasn't "Allison", I was "cancer". I was my cancer story - my soul was my cancer as opposed to my thyroid having cancer, my soul and spirit had cancer. My story became my identity, my excuse for all the bad choices I made in my life. My self pity regarding my cancer made life comfortable for me, because it gave my life definition. It gave my life purpose - my purpose was to be the girl with cancer who never got her life in gear.

Then, one day, it occurred to me...everyone has a story to tell. There isn't one person over maybe ten years of age who doesn't have a "story" to tell. Poor choices, wrong moves, health problems, dysfunctional families, etc...everyone has a story - plopped into a binder, waiting for the next page to be added. I wasn't special. Did I like that fact? Did I resent it? Well, if I'm not special because everyone else has a story too, what makes

Did you ever notice that your self pity often times is your self-definition of who you are?

It is what would be written about you next to your class photo in the Book of Life.

"Allison: Cancer"

It took me awhile to realize that I was the author of my story - at least in part. I had the choice of what the title of my life's story would be. I may not be able to completely write the chapters, but I can make the title, and I can choose the book cover - Isn't that what attracts you to a book any way: it's title and its cover? Then, I came to the conclusion that I had to change the title of my book from "Allison: Cancer" to;

"Allison: Cancer survivor - a tale of God's grace."
How different that title makes the book sound!

When we choose to change the title of our book from one of a comfortable tale of self pity to one that reflects the awesome things that God has done in our lives, suddenly, the reading of that book becomes something completely different for both the co-author (us) and the reader. It becomes a reading that can inspire, encourage and edify others and lead them to the glory of the Lord versus leading them towards a read that will just depress them completely in the end and make them question God's very existence.

Self pity is is comfortable because it gives us a role to play - the victim. However, if we are not careful, that role with be one which, if left unchallenged, will become the only role we will ever be known for - a "one hit blunder", if you will. But, if we chose to simply change the title of our book, not only will we attract and inspire our readers, we become encouraged and thrilled about what God has done for us - not wrapped up in the comfort of self pity, but engaged in the structure of the guidance and life-shaping tactics of the Lord.

What is the title of your story?Allison is the author of the blog, Simple Christian Living. Please feel free to stop by and enjoy her blog today!

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Blogger Julie said...

It's true, Allison, what we focus on is what we live.

If we could only realize that so much of what we tell ourselves affects our lives it would set us free in ways we didn't know.

Thanks for sharing your story.


June 11, 2008 at 9:49 AM  
Blogger Becoming Me said...

Such an excellent, excellent post. THank you for sharing/.

June 11, 2008 at 10:42 AM  
Blogger windycindy said...

I commend you on your life's story! Don't we all go through stages when we are dealt a bad deal? I know I do!
At this time in my life, I would say by title is "Life is Too Short!"
Bless you, Cindi

June 11, 2008 at 1:09 PM  
Blogger Darnelle said...

I wonder how many people read this today and had their perspective changed . . . forever? Thank you for opening your journey to us all.

June 11, 2008 at 2:41 PM  
Blogger Natalie Witcher said...

Spot on! God gives us new names and new identities no matter what we've gone through!

June 11, 2008 at 3:12 PM  
Blogger Tricia said...

Great post, I am going to do some pondering on what the title of my book is, thanks for sharing!

June 11, 2008 at 5:45 PM  
Blogger Sheryl said...

The title of my story used to be -
Sheryl: lost her daddy.

It really did define for me for many years. I made terrible choices because I was a girl who'd lost her dad at a young age.

The title of my story now -
Sheryl: beauty from ashes

June 11, 2008 at 7:50 PM  
Blogger Denise said...

Beautiful my dear friend, thanks for sharing your story. I love you.

June 12, 2008 at 6:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God used your message to magnify a chronic problem in my life-procrastination which has resulted in a life steeped in self pity. I don't want to be a one hit blunder! If only I had... is something I live everyday. I often tell myself that I am a big fat failure because despite my good intentions nothing ever seems to get accomplished or finished. I will start over- giving thanks to Our God, The patient one--for my life.
My house my be full of boxes but they are full of Joy!

June 12, 2008 at 10:28 PM  
Blogger Buffy said...

How very true. I suppose that in a way you let the thing that dominates your life become your main label. You may not even know it dominates your life.

As we get older we see that everyone has some bad thing in their past (or present) and it is much easier to hang on to that experience and let it define us than to move on to something better.

I read an interesting statement that our lives our not defined by external factors such as jobs, marriage, worldy success etc but by our states of mind. I think this is close to what you are saying, for it is in our thoughts that we become labelled.

June 16, 2008 at 6:53 AM  

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