We are all made up of stories.
I read a book last year, called The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep. It’s about stories, characters from stories, and how the stories we tell and believe shape us.
Although we are, obviously, very real, we are also the stories we tell ourselves – about ourselves and the world – and these change over time, as we change and develop. We are made up of the stories others tell us – about us, and them, and the world. Like the part of me that is who my family sees me as, and has seen me as since childhood, with some exceptions; the story I feel I can’t escape and that I return to being a character in when I’m with them, because that’s how they ‘read’ me. Their reading (interpretation) constrains me – I see myself with their brush.
In The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep, there are ‘real’ people and fictional characters; but the message is that we are all, really, characters; all in and made up of stories.
And the true story of who we are, and can be, is told us by the Holy Spirit, who reminds us of it by connecting us to the light that is in us, and the truths of the universe. It is Jesus Christ who gives us the power to be this true self: to understand, write, and inhabit our own stories, and all become real.
Sister Camille Johnson spoke about this during General Conference. She described how we can either let our stories be comfortably written by ourselves, or allow Christ to write them with us – seeing as He knows who we really are, and has the power to help us become it.
Why do we want the Saviour to be the author and the finisher of our stories? Because He knows our potential perfectly, He will take us to places we never imagined ourselves. He may make us a David or an Esther. He will stretch us and refine us to be more like Him.
[L]etting God prevail, letting Him be the author and finisher of our stories, … require[s] us to keep His commandments and the covenants we have made. It is our commandment and covenant keeping that will open the line of communication for us to receive revelation through the Holy Ghost. And it is through the manifestations of the Spirit that we will feel the Master’s hand writing our stories with us.Camille Johnson, Primary General President, October 2021 General Conference
Satan, on the other hand, whispers lies about us, and encourages our fears about our darkness – the parts of our stories we’re ashamed of. He tells us stories about ourselves that make us lose hope, and believe our dark parts are too strong to be overcome; more real than the good stories we tell about ourselves. We start to see ourselves the way he, and our fears, ‘read’ us. Then we need the light and power of the Holy Spirit’s hopeful (and more true) reading; to have things set in balance.
The central character of Charley in the book is the symbol of what is true for all of us: we are all stories, and the stories we believe about ourselves are the ones that become real.