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When change feels impossible

Some years back, when I was at an all-time low in my career (feeling like I was slowly disappearing in a job I had once loved but which now just left me with a sad ache in the pit of my stomach) I took my then young daughter to see ‘Matilda the Musical’ in London.

We gazed around the plush theatre, grinning at the inventive set. I was simply looking forward to being entertained. But as the child actor on stage belted out the song ‘Naughty’, the words sank deep into my psyche. On one level, it was a fun upbeat song, but on another there seemed to be a message directly aimed at me.

She was singing about those who are stuck in a story and want to get out, about how things aren’t pre-written.

‘I wonder why they didn’t just change their story?’ she shrugged.

I felt ridiculous for having tears in my eyes but maybe I wasn’t the only one. A lot of us get stuck in the wrong story, and it’s so easy to believe it will just never change. But it can. And sometimes it just takes one good choice.

Fast-forward ten years or so and I’d completely forgotten both the song and the emotion, but last week we decided to watch the newish film version. While I tidied up the dinner things beforehand, I listened to the wonderful Ally Fallon on her new podcast about writing your story. I was mostly expecting some valuable writing tips - she basically tends to pour out wisdom no matter what she’s saying - but suddenly she was talking about exactly the same thing – changing your story, choosing a new ending and explaining how it happened for her.

As I wandered into the other room to watch the musical I still didn’t click, having forgotten my misty-eyed moments in the theatre all those years before. But suddenly there it was again, reinforcing the words I’d just heard on the podcast minutes earlier.

Change your story.

Mere days later my morning reading in Lectio365 quoted The Message’s version of Psalm 18. And there were the words again: “God rewrote the text of my life.”

I began to get it. Maybe this message is for me? Or maybe I just need to pass it on?

The truth is, I like my story at the moment, but there are constantly things that don’t quite go to plan. There is always an element of thinking I could have done better in, well, just about everything. I still have areas of my life I wish I’d changed and feel powerless over. Things where I’ve just accepted that the ending is written and I have no control.

It’s a powerful thing to be reminded that this is just not true.

We tell ourselves the same narrative over and over again. This will never change. This is just how I am. I’m not the kind of person for whom ………………… happens (fill in the blank, for me it’s generally work-related, for others it might be relationships, friendships, health goals, anything really). I think I’m just not that kind of person, not the kind of person that gets to have those dreams fulfilled.

But guess what? Maybe I am.

And maybe you are too.


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