It was a wonderful day in the fall of 2005 when my aunt Susan mentioned a conversation she had had with her "life coach." It was the first time I had ever heard the term...and I was actively looking for how to enter the next season of life. Inspired to the core, I immediately enrolled in coach training and within months had a name, a website, and my first client. This was going to be fun!
Over the next three years, I doubled my income every year. Every obstacle became a welcome challenge I was sure I could overcome. I couldn't believe I was paid for doing what I loved. Then came the recession, and for the two years following, my business was down by half. I was in a dark panic. Every obstacle now became the taunt of impending doom.
What was different between the two phases? Not the money so much as the storyline.
Events are events. Circumstances are circumstances. (Profound, I know.) As I mentioned in my last post, what distinguishes "good" events from "bad" events is the interpretation we give them. In other words, how the events play into the story we see ourselves in. In the first season of my business, my internal storyline read like this: I am a successful entrepreneur who is growing a thriving business by helping other people thrive. When I lost clients during those early years, in my mind (and in reality) they were just making room for more clients! But as circumstances changed dramatically in 2008, I allowed it to change my storyline: Suddenly, I was an incompetent businessman chasing a silly, unrealistic dream.
During 2010, I did everything in my power to get a "real job" and relieve my rising anxiety...but to no avail. I interpreted those closed doors as being forgotten by God, or worse, being resisted by God. Yet by December of that year, a door of opportunity opened for me to work with a new partner--an arrangement that yielded the most successful 2011 ever. So were those closed doors good or bad? It's all in the storyline we tell ourselves.
No matter whether your circumstances appear "good" or "bad" to you right now, what's really at stake is the story you see yourself in. Both negative and positive events occur every day--but one will define our reality while the other will be merely a hiccup. Which is which? We get to choose. Either you are the object of an enduring, lavish Favor or the brunt of a bad cosmic joke. Whichever identity we own will shape the way we experience life.
We don't get to write the script of circumstance, but we always get to write the response...and choose how to interpret circumstance in the light of the larger Story. It's taken me a long time to learn this lesson, but I'm starting to get it. I hope you'll join me in a redemptive storyline.