Over the weekend, my pastor was talking to us about the stories that we tell ourselves. You know the ones. You aren’t sure what is going on with someone, so you jump to conclusions and there’s your made up story. Since he talked to us about this, I haven’t been able to get it off my mind. It’s so true, that we all tell ourselves these stories about the interactions we have with each other. He talked about what we feel when we go to talk to someone and they don’t behave the way we think they should. He also talked about his relationship with his wife, saying that there are times when he gets busy trying to do something. His wife thinks that maybe he’s not interested in her anymore. But really all he wants to do is get the treehouse he’s been working on done for their children. It had nothing to do with how he felt about her.
This made me think about my own life and all the stories that I’ve told myself. I’m pretty good at coming up with stories, so there’s always one brewing in my mind. I like to think that they’re all positive, but I’m human. There are days when I go to hug my friend and she’s not as welcoming as she usually is. She always gives me the best hugs. She stands up, wraps her arms around me, and holds on as if it’s the most important moment in her day! I always look forward to those special love-filled hugs. So, one day, when I got a quick one armed hug, I thought, “Did I do something? Did I upset her? Is it me?” Only later to find out, that she was having a hard day. She was in pain because of her disabilities. It wasn’t me at all, and that makes me feel better, and it also makes me feel worse. Not only because she was in pain, but also because I didn’t have faith in our relationship.
There’s also the time that I tried to call another friend, repeatedly. She never picked up, so I texted her. When she still didn’t answer, I made up the story that she no longer wanted to be my friend. She was ignoring me. I had lost value in her eyes and she no longer wanted to bother with me. I know a lot of people would have just accepted this, and maybe been upset but not really talked about it. I’ve always been a live out loud kind of person, at least for the most part. So I texted her and said, “What’s going on? Are you mad at me? Are we still friends?” She answered me soon after with, “LOL everything is fine. We are good.” But later, on Facebook, I saw that she was goink through some big life events. She’s purchasing the house that she has been renting. It’s big news! And I’m very happy for her! But that was why she was absent. I made up the story that she no longer wanted to be my friend and really all it was was her dealing with things in her life and not having a moment to call me. And that’s fine because we all get to that point. But we make up our own stories saying that someone else isn’t going through that. We are the only ones.
I wonder how many stories throughout my life I’ve made up. The ones that I believed to be true but really aren’t. I wonder how many times I made up a story and quit being friends with somebody, or just allowed the space between us to grow, just because I thought my story was true.
I also wonder how many times my husband and I have fought because of some story that I have made up in my mind, and I just assumed it was true. How many times did I mistake his silence for disinterest when really, he was just tired or he was just thinking about something at work? How many times did I assume that a look I caught from him meant something completely different from what it actually meant? This is another reason why it is so important to always tell the ones around you how you feel about them, even if you think they should already know. It leaves no room for doubt.
My preacher went on to say that when we make up the stories, we need to say them out loud to the person we’ve made them up about. When you make up the story that you’re no longer attractive to your spouse, that’s not fair to them because you’re not giving them the benefit of the doubt. So, when you feel that way, you need to share your story with them. You need to tell them, “I’ve made up a story in my mind that I’m no longer attractive to you.” And let them laugh at it. Because their laughter will make you feel so much better. It will allow you to see how crazy the story is that you are telling yourself, and it will also provide the space they need to tell you the true story about how much they love you and how wonderful you really are!