As I look back on my life, I can see a lot of similar unfounded stories I've told myself. Because I grew up overweight, I never had the endurance for sports. So I developed a story that I wasn't good at sports. Many years later I started exercising and lost weight. Then I discovered that I totally have "the eye of the tiger". I compete against myself quite effectively, physically speaking. I found I was good at a lot of physical challenges I had told myself I couldn't do and would even go so far as to say I excelled at power walking—my long stride, focused mind, competitive spirit and newfound endurance fueling the fire.
Writing this, trying to think of the stories I've bought into, most of them are really sad and pathetic...the kinds of things that undermine confidence and keep me "small". Today's blog isn't about feeling sorry for myself, though, so I won't share those. But I mention them because somewhere in the dark corners of your mind, you probably have similar stories. Whether they were told to you through the thoughtless comments of parents, siblings and teachers, ingrained in you by societal boundaries or produced yourself to explain or assuage places where you might have fallen short at one time or another, chances are good they're simply not true.
Here's an easy one to tell. I hate peas. I find them disgusting. And if you serve me peas in something, I will go to great lengths to pick them out. When was the last time I ate a pea? Well, maybe 45 years ago. So there's this story I tell myself about peas that may not even be true. What's true is that I love split pea soup. And even now as I think of buttery, salty, mushy peas, I'm thinking they're not all that bad. But I have this story that keeps me from ever finding out for sure.
The unfounded stories and "lies" we tell ourselves are not absolute. What was true at five isn't necessarily true at 51. And we can just as easily continue stories about things we like or do well long past their expiration date, as we can stories about what we don't like or can't do.
And what does all of this have to do with Jesus rising from the dead? In every moment of every day of every year of our life, we have an opportunity to be reborn. Somewhere along the line, the atheist inside me died and was reborn as a very spiritual person. The self-conscious, woman was reborn as confident. The fat girl was reborn as a hottie. Then the hottie was reborn as fat again...haha. But none of this is absolute.
Our stories often exist only to limit us. And sure, we all have limitations. But our limitations aren't nearly as broad as we make them out to be. Just because we're getting older doesn't mean we have to turn into our mothers. Just because we have a physical or mental handicap doesn't mean we can't be agile. And just because we're not good at something doesn't mean we can't pursue it as a hobby or even a career. Those things are stories. Most of the REAL limitations we have are things we don't even care about. Like I will never play for the NFL. Cry me a river.
Other things, when you really look at them, just aren't true. Like I might tell myself I'll never have children (in reality, I actually don't want children, so this is a hypothetical) but that wouldn't be true. I could adopt. I could end up in a relationship with someone with children. A child might land on my doorstep from some unforeseen source (hey, it happened with Moses, right?). And as my recent female-cycle-that-shouldn't-have-happened-because-I thought-I-was-in-menopause proves, I may very well still have eggs left. God forbid.
So rebirth isn't just a story you read about in ancient texts. When I think back over my life, I don't even recognize the woman I was at 20...30...40. I feel like I've been reborn, reinterpreted and resurrected countless times in my life. And while we're on the topic of Jesus, being "born again" isn't just for Christians. It's for everyone. And doing so is not "difficult", unless that's the story you're telling yourself. It's just an intention away.