Flip the Script
January 4, 2021
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I was not voted Most Likely to Succeed in junior high or high school. I was voted Best Dressed, which is unbelievable when I look back at my yearbook! I consider myself below average at most things. Like William Osler, I profess intellectual averageness. I have, however, learned how to leverage my weaknesses. If success is the by- product of well- managed failure— and I think it is— then strength is the result of well- managed weakness.
Our subplots reveal both strengths and weaknesses. Signature stories, on the other hand, are almost always born out of crisis, born out of weakness. An obstacle must be overcome against all odds. It’s a story line that doesn’t just make for a good movie; it makes for a good life. It’s the adversities we overcome that make us who we are.
My signature story starts with me waking up in the middle of the night, unable to breathe. My earliest memory is an asthma attack. I was rushed to the emergency room for a shot of epinephrine, and that routine was repeated more times than I care to remember. When asthma is all you can remember, it’s hard to imagine anything else. For more than four decades, I suffered from severe asthma. There weren’t forty days in forty years that I didn’t have to take my rescue inhaler multiple times. I never went anywhere without it— I slept with it under my pillow and played basketball with it in my sock. If you counted all the days I spent in the intensive care unit, they would add up to many months.
Then, on July 2, 2016, I felt prompted to pray a brave prayer. I asked God to heal my asthma, and He miraculously answered. For the record, I had asked God to heal me hundreds of times before. Why He chose to heal me on that particular day, in this particular way, is a mystery to me. But I never lost faith in one simple fact: God is able! Plus, I believe that God honors bold prayers because bold prayers honor God.
There are days, and then there are days that change every day there-after. The day God healed my asthma is one of those ever-after days. A signature story usually centers on a day that begins like any other day; then that day rewrites the rest of your life. I actually keep a running tally, numbering the days I’ve been inhaler- free.
I have no idea how your story reads right now. I don’t know whether it’s comedy, drama, or action and adventure. If you don’t like your story line, God can change it. He can redeem the loss, recycle the mistake, and rewrite the pain. He can do so in a single day, no doubt. That said, don’t wait until your circumstances change to start living your best life!
Despite suffering from severe asthma for forty years, I have biked century rides and run in triathlons. Did I mention my six knee surgeries? Why would I go after those particular goals? Because I love when the odds are stacked against me! If it’s easy, what’s the point? I want to go after dreams that are destined to fail without divine intervention. I want to accomplish things that I can’t take credit for. The harder, the better! God gets more glory! You need some giants in your life. Why? Without Goliath, you don’t discover David.
I have one hundred life goals, and you can download them at markbatterson.com/wintheday. You can also download “Seven Steps to Setting Life Goals.” I borrowed a few of my goals from others, and you can certainly do the same with mine. But few things will stretch your faith like coming up with your own life goal list. What do those goals have to do with my signature story? Goal setting is storytelling. It’s writing the last chapter first, then working your way backward! Your story will be only as good as the goals you go after.
I know that millions of people have run marathons, but running a marathon is something I couldn’t even imagine for most of my life be-cause of my severe asthma. That life goal was a late entry. It wasn’t until God miraculously healed my asthma that I added it to my life goal list. In 2017, I ran the Chicago Marathon as a way of celebrating God healing my lungs.
To date, I’ve accomplished about half my life goals. How have I done it? I didn’t run that 26.2- mile marathon the day after setting the goal— that’s for sure. That’s a good way to pull a hamstring. The first thing I did was download a training plan; then I worked the plan. Six months later, I had completed seventy- two training runs totaling 475 miles. That’s how you flip the script. It’s not by pulling fairy tales out of thin air! It starts by setting a God-sized goal that stretches your faith. Then you go after that goal one mile, one run, one day at a time.
The bigger the goal, the better the story you need to tell yourself. Of course, you can flip that script. The better the story you tell yourself, the bigger the goal you can go after.
Excerpted from Win the Day: 7 Daily Habits to Help You Stress Less & Accomplish More. Copyright © 2020 by Mark Batterson. Used by permission of Multnomah, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC. NCC also owns and operates Ebenezers Coffeehouse, The Miracle Theatre, and the DC Dream Center. Mark holds a doctor of ministry degree from Regent University and is the New York Times bestselling author of 17 books, including The Circle Maker, Chase the Lion, and Whisper. Mark and his wife, Lora, have three children and live on Capitol Hill.