One of the causes of discontent comes from listening to and telling bad stories. We get this steady dialogue going in our heads that is nothing but nonsense, and unfortunately, we sometimes believe it. It could be a long song-and-dance about how hard our job is, how we are overworked and under-appreciated, or how lazy everyone else is. It could be a sob story about how we have no friends or what a miserable childhood we had. The plot lines are endless, but they all have a monotonous dreariness that would never make the best seller list if they were actually put into print. When we listen to this idle chatter all day long, day after day, little wonder that it warps our perspective and hardens our hearts.

Anxiety comes from telling ourselves scary stories. What if I never get married? What if I get married to the wrong guy and then we are miserable? What if my car skids across the road into the other lane? What if I get fired? What if the house burns down? What if I get struck by lightning?

Pride is fed by telling bad stories where we are always the winners and others always lose. Pride is the prettiest, the smartest, the richest, the most enviable, everyone’s favorite. In fact, bad stories can feed all kinds of bad behavior, and bad stories are necessary to justify bad behavior. When you have to explain to yourself over and over why you were really right, chances are very good that you were really wrong.

The trick is to learn to be a good interrupter. Break in to the bad stories and shut them off. Start telling good stories, believable stories, wise stories. Love is kind and does not parade itself, not even in stories. It isn’t puffed up, and it doesn’t think evil of others. It hopes for the best and is not envious. Love is a good story teller.

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21 thoughts on “Bad Stories

  1. funny how we tend to think that when life circumstances change our worries will go away on their own, but in reality we sometimes just trade the old worries for a new set of worries! i love this post and how it deals with the incredible potential for our imaginations to steal our joy. but we know that in reality we CAN take every thought captive and lay our concerns before our King, really trusting Him to baptize our imagination.

  2. The stories all seem to get worse and louder in my head at night when I’m tired. But God is my ‘off button’. Good post.

  3. Oh Amen to that! Resting in God’s Providence (as a certain wise woman instructed me to do 😉 ) has become a wonderful silencer of bad stories and has instead brought with it prayers of praise and thanksgiving, joy, smiles, and peace.

  4. Thank you for this loving post. So many women fall prey to ‘what ifs’, failing to think on what’s true as we are commanded to do. Referring them to your post will be such a blessing!

  5. Awesome way to put it. As I listen to my five year old tell stories to her little brother (and, if he’s not listening, to her imaginary friends), I hear my tone of voice, my word choice, my outlook being echoed back. It is very clear that the stories about her day that are swirling in her head – that she is telling herself – came almost straight out of my mouth at some point. Sometimes I am so proud, and other times I cringe.

  6. Denise, I was just thinking mine get louder when my hormones are not in a happy place. lol Exhaustion also brings them on, especially the self-pity stories.

    This post reminds me of the way Martyn Lloyd Jones says that we should talk to ourselves instead of listening to ourselves.

    It’s so hard to do, though, so we should pray that God will give is the grace to help us to notice when we’re listening to ourselves!

  7. Absolutely wonderful post, Mrs. Wilson. Thank you so much for taking the time to say so eloquently what we need to hear.

  8. Thanks. I have been thinking about this A LOT recently. A wise woman once taught me that the inventive stories I created in my mind which led to me being victimized, abused, mistreated, etc. could be termed “vain imaginations”. I learned to deal with them as the Bible says: to cast them out, just as you have poetically put it! Thanks for this!

  9. I just read my little girl a Pooh book last night called “Oh Bother, Somebody’s Grumpy!” It dealt with this very thing & how they broke the grumpy/negative cycle by being cheerful. It was nice to read about this topic today–on a grown-up level & from a Christian perspective. Thanks! :-)

  10. True story today at 3:40pm:
    So, I was mowing the lawn & taking care of the leaves by myself, AGAIN, while hubby was off working. I was feeling very sorry for myself, thinking about all that I do for the kids, my man, the house, the yard, blah blah blah….my story took me from “happy warm day to enjoy” to “my life is falling apart” in about 2 minutes.
    I prayed hard for a moment, realizing that my mental car was soon going to crash. Instead of entering the bathroom turn on the hoses full blast, I decided to keep praying and look for something encouraging to read on your blog and voila, I came across this post in the nick of time! Were you spying on me or what? :) Praise the Lord He used you to help this story have a happy ending!

  11. Mrs. Wilson, I would like to print this post and give it to the ladies at our church as it is something I know I struggle with and I am sure everyone does to some degree. Is this okay with you? Do you have a policy regarding the copying of your material?

    Thank you so much for sharing with us what God has taught you.

  12. Mary,
    Of course you may copy this and use it any way you would like. Thank you for checking first.
    Blessings,
    Nancy

  13. Revisiting this one after a while. I’m still not very good at putting it into practice. I think my trouble is that I can’t seem to remember enough good stories, and the ones I know just aren’t as loud as the bad stories are. When everything goes black in my mind, and stays that way for a long stretch, it’s even harder to muster enough faith that there is light and to encourage myself to rejoice in the light in any kind of meaningful way. I need a Puddleglum to come along and stamp out the witch’s deceiving fire, but there seems to be a severe shortage of Marshwiggles in our world.

  14. Valerie, sometimes you have to be your very own Marshwiggle and stomp, stomp, stomp. When Puddleglum did the stomping, he didn’t see what good it would do in the end; he was just acting in obedience. One way to stomp it out is to get out two sheets of paper. On one, write all your blessings. On the other, list your troubles.

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