The Hero in Your Story is You

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

I have several friends that are at the end of a chapter of their life, and as I walk with them, I see them wrestling to establish a new vision for the next chapter.

Much like sitting down to write this blog today, a vision for a general direction needs to begin to form before the words can be written; before the story can begin to unfold. However, sometimes we are at a loss for words, a loss of direction, and as the frustration mounts with our inability to move on, we can come to fear that something is now wrong with us, that we are broken — and we though we may not speak the words, we wonder if we will know joy again.

As I have been interacting with my friends, I empathize with the uncertainty they are experiencing as they struggle to let go of the comfortable predictability of the current chapter. They may have been experiencing deep misery and pain, yet there is an odd attachment to the familiar, a sort of codependence, where they know their role and the character they have come to play in the story. I can see that it is disorienting for them to leave behind what they have known in order to turn the page and begin a new chapter.

I have had to do this many times in my life, and I do sincerely empathize with the struggle. I was reflecting on my journey this past week, taking note of the various events of challenge and change that was “forced” on me — along with the fears and feelings I held at the prospect of yet another reinvention of my self. Many times I had come to a place where I could not see a path forward, and though the season that was closing felt like a paradoxical mix of sadness and relief, the question that haunted me most was: “what now?”

Life should be lived as a captivating adventure novel. The scene is ever-changing, along with the coming of each new season. The numerous challenges that arrive create an heightened sense of suspense, which may at times have us biting our nails as we wonder how it will end, and whether or not our hero will survive. The cast of characters is an eclectic mix of diverse demographics and personalities spanning from the rich character of our hero all the way to the shallow, sociopathic drive of our villains. There are so many directions that our story can go — truly. The thought that “life is over” stands as a self-evident lie; for as long as there is breath there is opportunity to write yet another chapter. The adventure is in the writing, and in presently living what is written.

Sometimes when I write, I have a clear vision for what I will say. Other times it is more difficult. One of the worst things that I can do in the difficult moments is to get down on myself and start over-editing what I write – which only serves to build frustration. A wise retired professor that I worked with years ago once told me, “any good editor can edit a page full of words, but no editor can edit a blank page”. Maybe this is a good perspective to hold as we, the heroes in our personal adventure novel, begin to write the next chapter of our lives.

As we courageously turn the page on the last chapter and put our pen to the blank page of the next, we can pause and take a deep breath, and then simply begin. There is no need to fear, for though we are moving on, all of the previous chapters are still with us; they are still available for the reminiscence of joyful memories and to retrieve our hard fought lessons.

However, we no longer live in them. We can not live in the past. It is gone. We live in the now. We move forward into the future through an ongoing progression of “now” moments.

As I had reflected this past week, I noted that I had often judged these chapter closings in my past as being either “good” or “bad” — when in fact, they were closer to simply being transitions. Some experiences have been traumatic and harder to overcome, but for all of the times that the closing of a chapter felt as though my life was ending — I am still here. Here in this now. Alive, breathing, and standing at the start of many new chapters since the closing of each past.

The closing of a chapter for you may be the loss of a job, a relationship, or any one of a host of events and/or experiences that you have held. As you turn to the blank page of your new chapter, pause, take a deep breath, and begin to write. You are the hero in your story, and you can write with confidence. You don’t need to be overly obsessed about editing and/or erasing as you go. You don’t need to worry about the messiness of your previous chapters; the typos and broken storylines. Just begin to write in the direction of the vision you see, as it unfolds, and trust that the One who created you will indeed direct your steps and work all things together for good through grace.

David E White - Expanding Your Leadership Resilience