I was listening to a woman on the radio tell her story about the time she had a stroke. She described this moment when the constant inner dialogue stopped. There was silence and she loved it. The stroke had affected the language part of her brain and as her language drifted away so did her connection to all the things that were currently going on in her life. Her thoughts were silent and it was lovely. Over the next months, as she worked to restore her language, she said she had mixed feelings about re-entering her thinking life. “When you drop out of the story of yourself, you’re left stranded in the sunshine, in the now.” She experienced a peacefulness she hadn’t known elsewhere. As she dropped out of her own story, she found the ability to live in this present moment and it was refreshing.*
There’s something appealing about that isn’t there? What she’s described is a moment free from the worry and anxiety of the regular pressures of life. This idea that you have disconnect from your story in order to achieve peace sounds both familiar and dissonant. It’s familiar because that’s Eastern religion – detach from this world, enter the quiet to find an inner peace. The solution to anxiety is to disconnect. That’s all over the place in our culture. There’s a dissonance though, something’s not quite right. As Christians, think about the implications of disconnecting from our story. If we disconnect from our own story we’re also disconnecting from the Lord’s story. As we face the struggles in our lives it’s not our goal to get away from them but to attach them to a greater story. Peace isn’t found in detachment, but in attachment. “…Christ is the HOME for my story. He is where my story begins, and ends. Christ [is] the place where I am free to share every detail of my story, and Christ [is] the ultimate Story-teller. His story gives mine meaning, depth, light, darkness. His presence assures me that my story will never be meaningless or hopeless.”** His presence brings peace to my story.
When I attach my story to his I don’t need to forget the things that cause my heart to be anxious, instead I get to see them for what they really are – plot development. I’ve read the end of this story, it ends gloriously! So whatever it is that’s bombarding my thoughts now can only be building up to that. The image of quieting my soul before the Lord of Ps. 131 comes to mind. My soul isn’t quiet because it’s ignorant of the brokenness of this present world, because it’s forgotten that things are hard, it’s quiet because 1) it rests on the lap of the Lord and 2) because it knows that the Lord writes the ending. The unknowns are too great and marvelous for me because they come from the pen of the Lord, the great and kind author.
I think I do the Christian version of detachment too often. I shift my mind to other things, more peaceful things. I choose not to dwell on it. Scripture tells us to think upon what is honorable, true and pure (Phil. 4:8). This doesn’t mean not thinking about the things that make us anxious, it means thinking about what is true and lovely in those circumstances. What is true is that Christ is victorious over brokenness, that the Spirit is ever with us in it, and that the Father reigns supreme. What’s true is that my story rests in his and that this is where peace is found.
*RadioLab, Season 8, Episode 2: “Words” http://www.radiolab.org/2010/aug/09/
**Heather Nelson http://heathernelson.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/story/