Monday, January 19, 2015

"it wasn't written for you …"

"You can play the game,
you can act out the part,
though you know
it wasn't written for you..."

All week long, these lyrics from James Taylor's beautiful, "Shower the People," acted as a reminder for me to "check the script." It's a practice I started some years ago when I found myself caught up in cycles of drama that threatened to suck the life out of a cherished friendship. And since then, I've found it useful in arresting all kinds of stories that I know weren't written for me -- at least not by God.

Here's how it goes -- I will catch myself holding a script for a story that I haven't agreed to be cast in. The oldest child, the tired mom, the introvert, the organizer, the victim. It's not that these roles are -- in and of themselves -- bad. That's not the point. It's that I find myself reading lines - or in conversation, feeding someone else lines - that are not healthy, consistent with my sense of spiritual purpose, or in line with an accurate sense of my true identity.

Take for instance, a conversation I found myself in a week ago. It was steeped in the past -- an outgrown version of myself that I no longer have any attachment to, or relationship with. The character who's story I was being asked to "act out,"believed she was a victim of tragic circumstances.  And of course, if that was my character's backstory, then an invitation to talk about it would soon devolve into emotional fragility and grief.  That's how the script was written. 

For about five minutes, I read the lines.  I was so into it. Wow, I knew this character. I could play her with authenticity and great feeling. And then, the questions came gently but firmly, "Is this a part you are really willing to audition for? Is this a script you believe will tell a healing story?" The answer was immediate, "No."

I knew it was time to drop the script and refuse the role. I wasn't going to read the lines that were written, or feed the next line to my companion for her response - a response that would only forward that sad, sorry storyline -- again.

Whether the script is one of a broken heart, an inflated ego, or victimization -- we can drop it without even reading the first line. If the character description says: "obsessively neat, older sister, a bit of a control freak" -- well, I'm throwing that script across the room. 

Sometimes, we can actually refuse a script based on the screenwriter. If I know that a particular writer's repertoire is filled with heart-breaking story lines played out by pathetic characters, and I don't want to take on those roles, I'm not going to look at anything he/she has written.

This happened to me a few weeks ago. I was sitting at my desk when the thought came, "what if you had never…" I knew that "voice." It was the work of "what if…" and his scripts never play out in stories that are beautiful and healing. So, I dropped it.

These days I'm looking for script that are filled with hope, affection, honesty, humanity. I am eager to take on those roles. I know the Writer. I trust Her work. Her name is Love. Her stories bring out the best in her characters. Her plot development includes humility, attentiveness, meekness, redemption, healing. She leads her characters towards paths of peace. Sure, Her stories may not be filled with drama, villains, or chase scenes, but these are the roles I'm meant for.  These are the kinds of roles I've studied.  Her stories include character development and redemption. These are the stories I want to participate in telling.

Sure, as James Taylor sings:

"You can play the game,
you can act out the part,
though you know
it wasn't written for you.."
But why would we?

One of the things I imagine myself doing -- when I feel like I am standing there, script in hand, reading lines for a story I don't want to participate in producing -- is to turn to the casting director and say, "Are you kidding me, I am much too good for this role." And then, tossing the script in his face, I turn on my heels and walk off the stage.

Because I am.  We all are. We are all too good for roles that debase us. Roles that ask us to play out characters that are selfish, frustrated, tired, sick, sad, angry, gossipy, controlling -- you get the picture.

Practice dropping scripts that are not in line with stories you wish to participate in telling. Even if you have read for that part in the past. Even if you once played it with great meaning and pathos. If it is no longer your highest sense of your story you can say, "no," and leave the stage.

You won't be without a good part.  God has a perfect role that is just right for you. It is consistent with His nature. It is vital to the telling of His story. And you deserve to play it with confidence, meaning, purpose, and joy. You deserve to forward a story that will bless and heal. We all do.

offered with love,


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