It was a typical, beautiful summer day in Italy. The sun was shining and the only thing that could make it a little better, the researcher thought, would be a gelato. As the goodness dripped down his chin, he had no idea that the advertising world as we know it was about to turn upside down.
You see, he shared the lab with a Macaque monkey who happened to have a electrode covered helmet on his head. The researcher noticed that as he licked the ice cream cone, the pleasure center of the monkey’s brain lit up. It was as if the monkey had an gelato cone as well. Suddenly tv ads were filled with videos of hamburgers sizzling on a grill, chewers happily snapping their gum and ripe peaches just dripping with goodness.
Soon, this phenomenon was being tested in areas of social communication. Do you want to quickly create a connection with someone? Tell a story. Just like with the gelato cone, our brains are designed to bring ourselves into the story. Automatically, we start answering questions like, “how would I feel if that happened to me?” (It is the basis for our empathy).
In entrepreneur and leadership classes, they often do an exercise where you choose an incident in your life and you tell it from two perspectives–one where the outcome was positive and one as a failure. It’s crazy. They are two very different stories, but they both share the same facts. One leaves you feeling depressed and the other victorious, but at the heart, THE FACTS DON’T CHANGE.
This is a subject very dear to God’s heart. Hey, most of his writing to us is in story form–you know, because He didn’t need some researcher to reveal to Him how He designed us. (It’s always fun when science “discovers” what the Bible has said all along.) The Israelites taught their children in the form of stories. Jesus taught in stories. Even today, little ones start learning Bible stories while they still are in diapers.
A story has power. Lots of power.
So, who are we letting write our story?
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Phil 4:8
I sometimes get stuck on the word “true.” What is the true story of a situation? For many years, I would let Satan help author that “truth.” How? If I was speaking of fear, anger, loneliness or failure, I was allowing Satan to color the story. If I was acting out of fear of something that happened in the past or making unhealthy decisions out of fear, anger or loneliness, I was denying the Power of God. Ouch. That is a little brutal to say, but it is 100% true.
You see, we serve a Good God. He is the God of Light.
The thief (Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10
Fear, anger and loneliness are not compatible with light, life and fullness. Just like the entrepreneurial exercise, we have a daily choice on how we tell the story of our life–to ourselves and others. Do you take the facts and wrap them in the story of provision, promise and goodness or do you ignore the presence of God in a situation and allow fear and failure to dictate the story?
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jer 29:11
I get it for myself. If I speak and think on “right, pure, lovely, etc” I know that I can retrain my brain to be more positive. However, I missed the part about the monkey and the fact that others will share the emotions I felt when I tell the story. As girls, sometimes we want sympathy. We like that pat on the back. However, when we speak out of fear, loneliness or anger, we are creating those emotions in the person hearing the story. We are empowering Satan. Ouch. Ouch. Double Ouch.
So, today I am committing to sharing the gelato experience with others–the light. It doesn’t mean I can’t share bad things, but they need to be wrapped in The Truth. For example, I could say, “to someone on the outside, it may seem a bit dark right now, but I know the Lord is with me. I know He has a plan and it is a good one. I’m excited to see it unfold. I am at peace because that is His constant gift to me.” Wow. I felt great just writing that. Let’s give a shout-out to our Creator who always knows–are cares about–everything that we need. He gave us language, emotions and the things which make us uniquely human. Words. Stories. They are powerful things. Let’s use them for good.
So, my friend, what about you? How are you going to celebrate being a Child of the True King and allow your story to be told?
Deanna Duncan is a wife, mother, business-owner and Life Group leader. She spends her days laughing at her mistakes, lack of coordination an utter failure in any skill related to technology. She also spends her days living in Grace and knowing that despite her multitude of failures, she is loved by the One True King.