I heard a story once about a well-known public figure that came under some scrutiny in the local press. He didn’t do anything illegal, but he ran a non-profit, wrote a few books and became very wealthy doing so.
The local newspapers and TV news stations ran stories questioning the integrity of how donated money was handled, and how he handled his personal finances.
In reading these news articles written about him, he became increasingly frustrated by the way the articles were titled…teasers intended as clickbait to pique the readers’ interest in the piece. The problem was they painted him in a very negative light, and often suggested things that were flat out false.
At one point he wanted to call one of the writers of these articles to demand answers as to why they would title these articles in this way. But a trusted friend advised him against it.
“What you don’t understand is that the author of the article doesn’t even write the title, the editor does. The writer tells the story but the editor gives it a title.”
Well, that whole process got me thinking….about how our lives are like stories being written, with people, places and experiences. And there’s so much about our story we don’t have any control over (especially as children). But we do control how it’s titled.
Just like the editor at a newspaper.
For example, maybe you grew up poor, and while it was difficult and painful at times, as an adult you’re very good at managing money. You know how to save and not overspend because of your experiences as a child. Parts of your story were written for you, but you get to decide the title. “Child Grows up in Poverty, Overcomes by Becoming Skilled with Finances.”
Or maybe you were devastated by a divorce you didn’t want. The whole experience was absolutely awful, but you picked up the pieces and built a new life for yourself. “Divorced Mom of Three Thrives in Second Career.”
Or maybe it was your parents who divorced only after raising you in a home with constant fighting and emotional abuse. “Former Abuse Victim Helps Children by Becoming Family and Marriage Counselor.”
One of my favorite lines from the musical, “Wicked” is from a scene where the two main characters are sharing secrets one night. One of the girls shares how her own father wrongly blames her for the death of her mother. And how she’s never been able to feel loved or accepted as a result. The other character wisely says, “That may be your secret but it doesn’t make it true.”
WOW. What a powerful statement! We all have stories and secrets, things about our past we wish weren’t real. We don’t have control over everything that happens, other people do get to decide parts of our stories. And so often what happens is painful and traumatic.
But we are the editors, and we decide how it gets titled.
Even if you don’t know how your story ends yet, you can frame it in a way that says, “My hope is in Jesus. I trust Him to get me through this and use this for good.”
And speaking of Jesus, “Local Man Sentenced to Death, Resurrects on the Third Day Bringing Hope to the World.”