Finally we arrive at my most favourite genre of story: the rebirth. I’m generally not a big “romance” romantic, but I do love and dream (and, perhaps, romanticize) about people’s lives and stories turning around, starting over, coming back from the ashes, and all of the other phrases that can go along with the notion of “rebirth”.
Rebirth is generally depicted in stories where the main characters are bad or unpleasant, who discover the error of their ways, and then their redemption occurs. And there are so many classic examples of this: A Christmas Carol, Beauty and the Beast, Despicable Me, and, of course, The Grinch.
Different than a tragedy where you know defeat is inevitable, there is something so moving and hope-inducing in a rebirth story: despite the struggle, things will change. All shall be well again (perhaps not even again, perhaps for the first time!)
Whatever your opinion on the Bible, if you read through the four Gospels which tell the story of Jesus’ time on earth, one thing that stands out is how Jesus changed people’s lives. Jesus healed and showed compassion and care to people whom society had given up on or fully rejected: people who were unclean due to sickness, disease, and deformity, people who were rejected because of their actions and choices (thieves, tax collectors, prostitutes, and adulterers).
In fact, Jesus had the harshest words to say to those people who thought they had it all figured out — the people whose lives, from the outside, seemed to be all together.
The truth is that none of us have life fully figured out. We will always be human and will always make mistakes. We all need the chance to start again and again and again.
Exercise: When you think of your own story, your own humanness, your own propensity to be a Grinch or a Scrooge, the places and times where you miss out on the compassion and grace and joy that really is always there (albeit sometimes deep, deep down)… what might a big turn around look like for you? What might it look like for that ugly part of you to be reborn?
What habits, thoughts, or actions might you need to turn away from? What might you need to turn towards?
What is keeping you from this change?
And who or what might be helpful as you think about this process?
P.S. Sometimes it is easier to believe that change is possible for others but not ourselves. We are bystanders in the transformation of others (whether in real life or in fiction). Because we don’t feel the depths of others’ pain or walk their road to change, it makes sense that others’ stories can feel easier and our own journeys seem insurmountable.
And I think it’s just human nature to compare pain. Helpful? No. Human nature? Yes.
I would challenge you to deliberately think of others’ stories of redemption only in ways that are life-giving and encouraging.
When (notice I said “when” not “if”) your mind starts going down the road of comparison to either put down your journey or others’, simply stop that thought and use that moment that was meant for negativity to redirect you to positivity and compassion.
Use others’ progress to encourage you that change is possible. Cheer for them. Cheer for yourself. Let’s work towards solidarity in our very human struggles.
(To be able to connect to all of the posts in the Our Lives as Stories series, go here.)