Rock a bye baby in the tree tops, when the wind blows the cradle will rock. When the bough breaks the cradle will fall, and down will come baby cradle and all. London 1765
I don’t know what was going on in London in 1765 but this famous song with the great tune is a terrible story. When I was a new mom singing to my babies, it took me no time to rewrite this story with myself as the super hero.
My version, When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall but Mommy will catch you cradle and all.
The stories we tell have the power to shape us.
When our youngest son was almost one, I was carrying him down a rock hill on our way to a boat outing on a lake. A rock slipped under my foot and I went down hard and fast, scraping my shins and bruising my ankle. True to my song lyrics, I landed on the ground with the heavy baby elevated Lion King style above my head, unharmed by the fall.
I still sing the same song to my grandsons only now I sing, Mocha will catch you, cradle and all. Best of all, I believe the story I sing.
When I was little my brother and I played lots of pretend. He was older so he wrote the stories. He would be a soldier and I’d have to be the unlucky enemy. He’d be Superman and I’d be a helpless girl who needed saving. He’d be a doctor and I’d have to be sick. When he was Tarzan he’d want me to be a monkey or “Boy.” Somewhere in all that pretending I learned to rewrite. I learned to recast myself. When it came time to be Tarzan I claimed I was Jane. Jane was smarter than Tarzan and just as good in the jungle. Jane could multitask and get things done. This story was so real to me – and so was my role – that I required a costume. For hours as children we lived out that story. I believed it.
Brene Brown, a research professor, author and speaker, encourages us to explore the stories we are telling ourselves and to be vulnerable enough to share them with each other. She talks about those moments when we don’t have feedback, or we’ve opened up to another person and they don’t respond. In those moments, what are the stories we tell ourselves? She even suggests taking our relationships a little deeper and sharing our stories with one another. “When you didn’t answer my text, I told myself you no longer cared about us.”
Stories have power. Jesus knew this. He was confident enough to tell a story and just let it land where it would, often not even explaining what he meant. He used common settings and objects in his stories reminding us about salt, light, birds, trees, merchants, fields, fathers and sons. He told his stories in Aramaic and not classical Greek. In other words, he used street language – real, earthy language – to paint word pictures people could understand.
Mark Twain says the best story ever told was by Jesus, about a dad and two sons. The ungrateful son claims an early inheritance and squanders it quickly and badly on all the wrong things while his dad watches and waits and his brother stays loyal and true. Its good because Jesus rewrites the ending from what we are expecting. The way the story should end is with justice due, the good son rewarded. It ends instead with a Dad’s embrace of the wayward wrong son and a party for him. It ends with undeserved grace and love winning the day. (Luke 15:11-32)
The stories we tell ourselves have power. What’s your story? Are you a victim or a super hero? Are you strong or weak? Are you resourceful or helpless?
If you don’t like your story, re-write it. Confess it. Recast yourself and live into that role. Add a surprise ending filled with love and grace and power. Jesus did.
Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, Mocha/Mimosa to Keller and Pace, breast cancer survivor and former Jane.
P.S. I had good feedback from those of you who signed up to be a part of the Inner Circle. I’m so glad you enjoyed the Top Ten list for Soul Tending that we sent you in May. I just completed the June Top Ten list. This one is my best advice for your marriage or significant other relationship. I’ve also shared a couple of pictures there and a request for prayers for things happening in my life. It is free when you sign up with your email address at http://www.drcindyryanblog.com/circle. I will send you one email a month with content I don’t share anywhere else. 💕