I find myself growing weary of a lot of things that make up my social media newsfeeds. Whether it’s news stories or opinionated rants, I would imagine that you likely grow weary at times as well. I’d gladly scroll through an endless thread of pictures of what you had for lunch if it meant I could avoid certain other things online.
Whether we’re talking about highly slanted articles from the opposing view (real or fake) or maybe even arguments from your own camp that skew the story away from where it ought to be, we’re growing weary for a reason. We are inundated with things that are constantly trying to shape the story, not just “as” but even “before” it plays out.
Trying to figure out who the narrator is, is one of the most difficult things about navigating the society we’ve created for ourselves— Because the person who gets to coin the vocabulary and frame the characters will also get to shape how the story is heard. If they can cast their team as the good guys standing up to all those evil bad people, then they will automatically get the uninformed but sympathetic vote. This is why you often find yourself in the middle of a heated conversation and neither party is calling each other by their preferred title. (Think “Pro-Life vs Anti-Choice”). This is one of the reasons why there can be such vitriol thrown around like hand grenades—Because if you really believe that you are the little guy trying desperately to hang on against the juggernaut powers-that-be, then all’s fair, right? Or if you could only convince people that your position is a natural conclusion and any opposition must obviously be manipulated or forced in some way, then snuffing out that opposing voice would not only be fair, but maybe even just.
But this problem is also complicated by the reality that I have a tendency to play both the roles of uninformed sympathizer AND narrator trying to craft the story. If I can get out in front of things and make sure people see the issue the way I want them to see it, (whether I actually understand the issue or not), then all will be right with the world. Whether it’s major things like theology and politics, or minor things like my favorite sports team or what happened in the office today— You will find me consistently working to make sure that other people see my side of things as either David in his battle against Goliath, or as David fighting off Saul’s attempts to kill him. In one instance David is just the little guy who stepped up to do what everyone else was fearful of doing. In the second instance, David was just the rightful occupant of the throne waiting patiently for his turn but mean old Saul would’t leave him alone. Whether online or in person, my sinful heart works overtime to craft a convincing narrative for other people to see and more time than I would like to admit, even convince myself is true.
But neither of those David stories are my story. They’re not really even David’s. If you want to press, the reality is that I sometimes find myself playing the roles of Goliath and Saul while pretending I’m a David. I am too often guilty of living in my own false narrative. And make no mistake, this is sin. When I am guilty of this, it will prevent me from loving my opponent sacrificially. When I am guilty of this, it will prevent me from speaking truth to those I might have a platform before. And when I am guilty of this, it clouds my understanding of just how desperately I need a Savior.
I don’t live in a story I’m crafting for myself. I am reconciled to the great Story Writer. To the One Who has the right to name the characters and place them where He wants them to be. When I work hard to reshape the narrative in my favor, I’m ultimately redirecting attention away from a far better story that’s playing out around me. You don’t have to go to Facebook to find fake news, it can be found in my own heart.
Lord, kill my own false narratives!