The Problem with Revisionist History
We tend to revise our history in an attempt to sanitize and remove some of the parts that don’t suit our current narrative. We revise our history to leave out and play down certain seasons, times, and journeys we have been on, in an attempt to tell the story in a way that will best suit our current situation.
There are a few problems with this. Firstly, when we try to erase the bad or difficult parts of our stories, we forget that God is in every part of our story. We forget that God is found in the good, and the bad, and the not-so-good, and the not-so-bad. The second problem we face when we rewrite our history, is that we edit away the things that make us look bad, to make ourselves look and feel better. We inadvertently play God down and ourselves up. “I did this… I did that… I started this…” This leaves us as the hero of our own story.
There are many sadder parts of my story, unglamorous, and sometimes even downright undignified! Yet this I know: The Lord has carried me more times than I could walk. There were long seasons of ministry and church life that were far from easy. Many months, sometimes years, of wondering if ministry was for me. I thought about working for UPS for a season; after all, everybody is happy when you show up with their stuff, and for a while it seemed like no one was happy to see me.
There have been many joyful times in my story. Times of the Holy Spirit moving, times of rapid church growth. Times when it seemed as if we were in the sweet spot of life, calling, and ministry. If anything, I had even less to do with success and joy than I did with the tougher parts. God carried, God graced, God loved, and God favored. Friends and family stepped in and loved and strengthened and encouraged. And I was the simply the recipient. How dishonoring to all involved say “I did it… I learned how to do it… I succeeded… I initiated…”
In the most difficult times, and in the best of times, The Lord taught me some incredibly powerful lessons about what I was called to, and what I was not. What I was good at, and what I was not. I could spin it, I could sanitize it, I could leave those parts out of my story. But this I know: God held me, lead me, loved me, walked me through, and never let me go! A revisionist view would make me the hero, would make me look better than I really was in the moment. What a sad little tale my life is if I am the hero of my own story, but what a grand masterpiece it is when Jesus is the hero! What a great story it becomes when I give honor where honor is due!
Let’s give honor where honor is due.
Firstly to The Lord, who laid down His life for us!
To leaders, who in their own brokenness love us and disciple us.
To Church communities, who make us feel like we belong.
To friends, who reach out when it would be easier to do nothing and say nothing.
Those are the undiluted, unsung heroes of my story, and I suspect of yours too!