Bad Advice in Personal Development

It seems to be unanimous, everywhere I turn people are shouting something along the lines of this: “divorce your story”.

The shouts are coming from the rooftops of Oprah Winfrey’s Life Class.  Tony Robbins and Iyanla Vanzant are the trailblazers, not to mention from many others in my own inner circle.  It seems to be the newest fad, ‘change your story to change your life’.

At first I thought, Ohhhhhhh that’s good!  But then I thought what does it really mean?  And what does the Scripture say?

From my best understanding, they’re saying you can change your perspective, or better yet, change your mind about your past by simply refusing to talk about it.  There are examples popping up all over the place of people who are using this method ‘successfully’.  Oprah interviewed the girl who made a decision to load up with extra classes because she hated school.  Her solution was to change her story from being the girl who hated school, to the girl who got it out of the way by graduating early.

The lady Iyanla spoke with who wanted to be an actress but her sister’s acting talent had always been her stumbling block.  So she changed her story to “I’m from an acting family.  I love acting and so does my sister.”

But what’s really going on?  Can we really make our way prosperous simply by committing to the process of “going through” as opposed to complaining and practicing self pity?  Can we really change our reality by simply tweaking the way we see it?

The answer is a resounding “yes” but let’s take a trip down memory lane for a second.  Remember back in the day in school when the teacher would hand your paper back and you’d only gotten partial credit on one of your answers?  That’s what I think is going on here.

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…” is how Paul, straight from the Holy Spirit, shared the directive in Romans 12:2.

I’m working on a study right now that includes something like this concept of divorcing one’s story.  God is teaching me about the importance of reIdentification.  When we come to Christ we ARE conformed to the world.  The mind renewal process is about steeping ourselves in God’s world, or His Word, so that we might come to look more and more like it.

Let’s face it, we live in an imperfect world.  That’s really putting it lightly.  Imperfection suggests a nick, a blot, or a blemish.  This world we live in today is more like having to clean up after 6 million elephants who ate a ticking bomb for dinner.  Turn on the news any day of the week and you’ll hear stories that run the gamut from child sex trafficking to the guy who chewed off the face of that old man in Florida.  How do the people  involved divorce themselves from something like that?

You’re right.  That is extreme (until it hits home, of course) so what about all the millions of folk tied to the millions of events that weren’t 10 o’clock newsworthy, but were, nonetheless, epoch for them?  Surely some 6 foot plus dapper looking gentleman can waltz out into the controlled environment of the coliseum in anywhere USA and tell them to get over it in his well performed speech, but would that be enough to really transform them into what God would call a renewed mind?

What’s going on is we are a people made from the dust of the ground.  The Bible refers to us as the clay in God’s hands.  After our rebirth, once the Light has come to claim us, we are called to submit to the Potter’s touch.  If we don’t, we are mercilessly and helplessly left to fester in the pain and disappointment of the circumstances of our past.

Spiritual salvation is not a process.  Emotional salvation, is.

The Scripture likens our hearts to soil.  With this in mind, the poet in me yearns to liken our days to seed.  The experiences of our lives and our reactions to them have grown (and continue to grow) the harvest of who we are today.

This is precisely the reason I don’t care to divorce my story.  I do see the benefit of changing my perspective about it: not seeing myself as the victim anymore, or incessantly doubting my contribution to the world, or feeling broken when someone I’d like to stay has chosen to leave.   But I couldn’t do that work of changing my mind about it until I identified what was faulty in the wiring in the first place.  I thank God everyday He helped and continues to help me with that.

I think advising a world of people to divorce their story by simply never speaking about it again is dangerous and ultimately more harmful to them in the long run.  We can’t erase the past.  We can’t outrun it or ignore either.  To pretend like it’s not in the heart just because it’s not coming out of the mouth is ridiculous to me.

Our hindrances, hurts, and heartaches don’t have to manifest in words?  They have energy enough of their own to find other ways to use the body to express themselves.  Our mouths are our most powerful outlet….

And it’s not so much our confession to each other that ultimately leads us to the everlasting spring of health.  It’s our confession to the God of heaven and earth Who has asked in John 4:24 to be worshipped in spirit and in truth.  It is in the telling that He rewires us.  Reconstructs and reIdentifies us with Him, to Him, in Him.  Then, and only then, are we are strong enough not to need to be divorced from our stories.  Then we are strong enough to be God’s witnesses through them, and that in the spirit of victory.

Woe be unto those who divorce themselves from their stories…

For we overcome by the Blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony.  (Rev 12:11)


About Alaina Odessa Expressions

Alaina Odessa is a Christian poet and author of Slow Running Honey, an anointed book of poetry that speaks to the secrets, self deception, and lack of self awareness that is holding many of God's people back from the abundance He created them for. She is creator of Alaina Odessa Expressions, a company dedicated to helping others 'Cultivate the God made self' through poetry, theatre, workshops, lectures, & television. Godly information fosters the mind renewal process all Christians must undertake to experience the fullness of Christ's sacrifice. Alaina Odessa Expressions strives to provide edifying, life changing content.
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