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What we repeat, we remember. We all tell stores. Our lives speak.

I used to write it all down when I was angry or upset.

Listing out all that happened and why I was justified to feel the way I felt. Now I have no desire to read those journals and all of those words. Who would?

It’s better to have expressed my frustrated thoughts written on the white lines of pages in a journal, than to the human they were about. However, I no longer write those kinds of words as often. We all tell stories by what we write down or rehearse in our minds.

What we repeat, we remember.

More than ever I’ve learned to write faith filled prayers so that my mind will think on the good I want to see, and not the wrongs I’d rather forget. I want to choose the stories I share.

The mistakes others make, the way they treat us, and the things they do that are hard for us to swallow. Even when they are against us, or worse yet, when they say they are for us, but don’t treat us as if they are. Those things are not worth repeating, whether it’s in a journal or verbally rehashing. I’ve experienced both; speaking of others wrongs, and being spoken about, and they both cause so much damage.

“The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences” (Proverbs 18:21 NLT).

“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable…Then the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9).

I’m not saying we shouldn’t talk about our emotions with a trusted loved one, a close friend, a counselor, or write out our frustrations, so we can process what we’re going through. And talk to God, asking Him to help us work through, forgive, surrender, and move on. It’s a process.

None of these things are wrong, and they can often help us take a huge step in the right direction so we tell ourselves the right stories. However, if we’re keeping track to just keep track, so we can remember the wrongs and never forget, that’s when it’s dangerous.

Our intentions can take the therapeutic act of processing life through writing or sharing and turn it into a way of holding on to things we were never meant to hold. First Corinthians 13:4-7 talks all about what love is. “It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged” (1st Cor. 13:5).

It’s hard to forgive and show others God’s love, mercy, and grace when we log their deeds on the pages of our minds to revisit like a history book, that recalls their sins and not ours.

It’s easy to do this when we’ve rehearsed what they’ve done, believing we are in the right. And yet, by this very act we too are in the wrong. All of us are guilty.

God has paid the price for us all. “Let’s not keep the receipts for what we’ve not paid for.” – Ann Voskamp

“Anything we hold on to becomes our responsibility to maintain.” – Freedom Curriculum, from Church of the Highlands

I remember going through a period in life where I experienced rejection, and it’s all I could think of. I had never felt it quite like this before, from one person, in an ongoing situation.

I didn’t understand it, I couldn’t maintain it, run away from it, or fix it, so it miserably consumed me.

God kept bringing me back to 1st Corinthians 13, the love chapter. I felt the strong nudge to pray those scriptures over myself and this individual.

It was so hard at first.

I can’t say I enjoyed the road God was allowing me to walk down. I wanted the person I was praying for to change, but He changed me. When we obey, God will open us up, clean us out, and bring healing and hope.

God longs to change the desires of our hearts to reflect His heart in us. He will do this if we let Him. Praying scripture over us and them will transform us all if we’re truly seeking God.

Those prayers and that difficult time built in me a strength I would need for the future. It gave me the opportunity to learn how to love when I was not being loved in return and how to surrender faulty relationships into God’s hands.

It loosened the grip of obsession I had with trying to turn this person into a fan instead of my foe. It began to break off the people pleasing gene and open my eyes to pleasing God over others.

Some people will not let us in; they won’t necessarily even like us or support us, and that is their choice. At some point, we have to make peace with it, let it go, and move on. We can’t change people, nor are we meant to carry the weight of them.

Choosing to forgive, pray for, and love others, who aren’t loving us, becomes our pathway to freedom.

I don’t remember many of the details any longer. I don’t know what I recorded in my journals and I don’t even care. I do, however, see how God transformed me and the stories I tell about this time in my life. Through obedience I became stronger and gained wisdom my heart needed to know.

There are stories of redemption that are worth repeating. The stories that show you and I being saved from ourselves, sin, and even from what others have said or done to us. In the end it’s not about how we were wronged, but how these situations reveal areas of our own lives that need healing. This is truly a gift if we lean in to God and let Him do a work that we could never do on our own.

These are stories of hope. The stories that clearly mark the change of hearts and how God restores, rebuilds, and refreshes, making all things new.

Repeating God’s goodness is what I want to tell.

We all tell stories.

Our lives speak.

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (1 Cor. 13:4-7).

His love wins every single time if we let it do its redemptive work in us.

Emily P. Freeman, in her book The Next Right Thing, tells of listening to the stories of an Uber driver while on a trip with friends:

“It’s a good job,” she says, “and I’ve never had a problem.” She pauses now, and then she says this: “Except that one lady that one time.” My ears perk up, ready for a story. She’s already told us so many stories in our short commute; this one is sure to shape up as the best one yet. The story doesn’t come. Instead, she says this about that one lady that one time: “But we’re not gonna give her words, ’cause that’s exactly what she wants.””

I want to tell the redemptive stories. I want to tell others of how when I hoped someone else would change, or that my circumstances would change, how instead God changed me. This brings freedom. I wanna repeat God’s grace and call out the gold in others.

This tells of His faithfulness in our lives despite us, them, and all of our sinful natures.

I love these two signs and I intentionally purchased them to hang on the walls of our home in the last year:

Always pray to have eyes that see the best in people, a heart that forgives the worst, a mind that forgets the bad, and a soul that never loses faith in God.

And . . .

365 New Days, 365 New Chances.

If I desire forgiveness and new chances, how much more should I freely give it.

This is how I want to live life every day.

Not judging (Matthew 7:1).

Not calling out their wrongs. Why would we, when each of us have so many? We have our own blind spots for God to reveal and heal.

Let’s call out the grace of God and the Gold in others.

Let’s be known for spreading grace and gold.

Let’s extend grace, believe the best so we’ll see the best, as God does the transforming. The results are always His job, not ours.

In it with you, friend!

Love and Grace,
Joelle Povolni

P.S. If this has spoken to your heart, I believe this post, You And I Can’t Make People Change will too. I am cheering you on from this little corner of the internet to repeat as much grace and gold as you can muster!

“The more God’s love permeates our hearts, it becomes possible to love people. Not easy, but possible.” – Natalie Grant

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