I got to thinking lately about the power of story, and specifically how the words and pictures we focus our attention upon help to influence the trajectory of our journey. So much of what we think about is drawn from what we choose to look at and listen to. And the words we use to describe our lives also speak volumes about the course our lives are traveling.
As none other than Jesus said, “What you say flows from what is in your heart” (Luke 6:45, New Living Translation) and Proverbs reminds us: “What you say can preserve life or destroy it; so you must accept the consequences of your words” (Proverbs 18:21, Good News Translation). Whether or not we realize it, our words play a crucial role in how our lives unfold, so it pays for us to speak life-preserving words rather than life-destroying ones.
We all narrate the soundtrack of our lives with words that paint pictures moving us closer to or further from our dreams. As James Russell Lowell suggests, “Life is a leaf of paper white; whereon each one of us may write.” And it was Napoleon Bonaparte, who knew a thing or two about ruling the world, who said, “We rule the world by our words.”
To give voice to our dreams is to speak words that help create a mental image to sustain us during the inevitable periods of disappointment and heartache that come to us all. “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams,” Eleanor Roosevelt posited. In other words, dreams are simply the pictures we carry in our hearts of an idealized state we long to inhabit.
And I cannot help but share one of my all-time favorite quotes on this topic: “The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issue from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would come his way,” stated William H. Murray.
To use an example from my own life, several years ago I wrote down in words the dream that was in my heart: “I have a dream of another life. What I mean is I dream of living differently than I do. I dream of a life with more quiet and thus less noise, of all types. I dream of dealing with less traffic, preferably a bare minimum. I dream of a more active lifestyle, one that involves more walking and less sitting, unless it is in a kayak. And I dream of living in a place with fresh air, clean water, and starry skies, ideally near the coast.”
So, what story are you telling yourself?