the chapters in our stories

kathyescobar just because i thought it was fun, spiritual formation, the carnival in my head 11 Comments

it’s always so darn serious around here at the carnival.  i don’t mean to be intense all the time, and i swear if you know me in real life i’m actually fun, hahah!  honestly, though, sometimes it’s nice to just chill a bit and not solve all of the problems of the church in one blog post.

this past week i had quite a few conversations with people about their stories, the closing of one chapter and the opening of another.  so many i know both in real life and online are in seasons of shifting, re-evaluating, healing,  jumping-off-cliffs-to-live-out-their-dreams.  and i was reminded of an exercise that i have used a few times in some groups and is part of one of the chapters in refresh, some material i co-wrote a few years ago.  while it was in the chapter on guilt & self-blame,  it’s really not focused only on those issues and i have found it useful when we are trying to embrace the bigger picture, the bigger story God is telling in us and through us.

it’s really a spiritual reflection exercise to give language to the seasons in our journey. it is a look back at the different chapters in our life so far and naming those chapters.  there’s no good or bad or right or wrong answers.  some chapters are probably uglier, funnier, better, and easier than others.  but they are all part of our story.  i also think it’s fun to think about the chapter being written now.  what is the season we’re currently in and what are we learning in the midst?

the exercise is called “the bigger picture, the bigger story”.  here’s an excerpt:

“often we get so caught up in the day-to-day of our present struggles that we lose sight of the bigger story.  God is telling a story in all of us and part of our journey is making sure we don’t miss the bigger picture by focusing in on only what is right in front of us.  here’s a fun exercise to help us see the themes of our lives and notice that the story isn’t just one chapter but the combination of many” (p. 63).

if your life was a book, what would the title be?

now think of some chapter names, following the guide below:

  • timeframe & chapter title:
  • birth to 5 years –
  • elementary years –
  • high school years –
  • college age –
  • then write in your own depending on the season.

here are mine:

my working title: downward mobility

  • birth to elementarythe little mom
  • elementarydear abby, why do they keep teasing me?
  • middle schooljello butt with the best personality (long story)
  • high schoolput on your happy face
  • collegenose to the grindstone
  • mid 20’sit’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s supermom!
  • 30’s inside out
  • now (i’m 42) – oh, what the hell, why not try?

the template is here if you want to give it a try: the bigger story (in microsoft word)

oh, i’d love to hear some of yours.  the other night at our house of refuge my friend said her book would be called “rising from the ashes.”  love it.  here’s to new and wonderful and weird and wild chapter titles ahead.