Restorying – Life Lessons from Chris Rock

I’m suffering from allergy/sinus issues tonight and the effects of a really long week so I’m at home zoned out in front of the tv. After flipping past a thousand, Everybody Loves Raymond episodes I stumbled onto Inside the Actor’s Studio with Chris Rock.

I decided to stop and watch. I like to hear people’s stories. I learned that Rock grew up in a tough neighborhood of Brooklyn. He was bused to a poor, white school where he was routinely discriminated against and beat up.

“It was the defining moment of my life. On the one hand it made me everything that I am and on the other hand it screwed me up badly.”

He went onto say that if he had stayed in his own neighborhood for school he would have been much happier and he knew because of his family he would still have gone on to have a good life. But with this negative experience his life was transformed into something dynamic and rich that in turn reaches millions.

I was blown away by this. It acknowledges the pain of the situation while still showing his strength of character and resiliency. What an amazing perspective on his life. I think I’m starting to get there, somedays.

I definitely dream about how my life would be if I hadn’t gone through some of the stuff in my life. Yet I have a friend from college that I always compare myself too. I always wish I had her life, chances and experiences.

She grew up in a loving, stable home. Her dad had a great job. Her mom stayed home to raise the kids. They loved each other, took family vacations and lived in the suburbs. She was pretty and popular in high school, but she didn’t care and was nice to all. She graduated with honors, finished college in three years, debt free because mom and dad paid for it. Then she got her dream job, met the love of her life, got married, bought a house and proceeded to have 2.5 kids – a boy and a girl of course.

I’ll admit that I was jealous. Since I met her, my freshman year of college, I was convinced that if I only I had her life I would be happy, fufilled, and just better. I always wondered why her life was so golden when I struggled for everything. I felt like my life was lived up hill both ways in high-heels and she walks on flat ground with comfy, aerodynamic sneakers.

Most days I feel like the anti-her. How do I get from jealous to resilient? How can I transform my pain into something I can use for good and not for evil? I’ve let it make me feel shameful for far too long.

Like Rock, I just need to learn to see my experience differently. I guess my M.A. in psychology is for use on myself. In therapy I would guide a client to restorying their life.

Instead of seeing the negative you have to learn to see the positive things that happened from the darkest moments. This is when you know the light at the end of the tunnel really is the other side and not an oncoming train. It is a sign of healing.

That seems trite but its true. I don’t know if I’ll ever think of my life as better than my college friend, but it is my story and my life, what happens with it is what I have control over.

This idea is the epitome of what is meant to destroy us God uses for our good. Our pastor says God takes those awful, difficult times and makes it seem like they were part of his will for your life. Not that he wishes us to suffer, but that so integrates it into our story that we’re able to draw from it to help others. I can’t wait.


About Marti

After a year-long sabbatical in Southern California I am returning to Ohio to try and resume my life. Who knew you went home again to start living.

Posted on March 19, 2007, in Pop Culture, Spiritual Formation and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I have such a friend and feelings towards her.

    I’ve been struggling with how to look at the past and move on from it, be enlightened from it, and make good from it, but I’m not there yet. I spend a lot of time analyzing the past and where I went wrong. I’m looking forward to that integration you write about.

    Insightful post. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Me too!! And some days are better than others. Somedays I’m able to accept my life with its highs and lows as uniquely my own with its own rewards and other days I’m buried underneath it struggling to breathe.

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