The Dog-meat Story

We all tell ourselves stories each day. We act on those stories. Make sure they are faith-filled and uplifting.

Little Johnny (name changed to protect the guilty) was the terror of children’s church. Ricky, our children’s director struggled to control this unruly four-year old. He wasn’t mean, but he certainly disrupted the program.

One Sunday while the others were leaving, Ricky confronted the little fellow. “Johnny, why are you like this?”

“It’s a long story,” Johnny responded.

“I’ve got time.”

“Well, you see when I was little I was walking on the rails of a railroad track. I fell and knock a hunk of meat out of my leg and they replaced it with dog meat. It’s the dog meat that makes me act like that.”


This little fellow was pretty good at telling stories, huh? Now, I don’t want to whip a dead horse because I’ve already talked about this but we all tell ourselves stories each day. The stories we tell help determine the quality of our life.

For instance:

“I just don’t have a chance in life because of my family. No one can succeed coming from a family like mine.” Or,

“If I had a husband like him, now, I could get ahead. What a go-getter!  But mine …” Or,

“It’s not right! They favor others. I’m working with one hand tied behind my back.” Or,

“If I was as beautiful as she is (or handsome as he is), I’d get some breaks, too.”

It happened to me again, the other morning. I was tired and as I puttered along, cars and motorbikes jockeying for position all around my Peugot, I started ranting to myself about a situation. “This and this! That and that!” I began to make my case as to how I had been treated unjustly. This was about the twentienth time I’d told myself “my story.” I thought I’d finally won the battle against it and was able to leave it alone.

But, here it was again.

This time though, I said, “No! I’m not doing that again.” I purposely changed  the story I was telling myself.

I remembered some great things that had happened the day before. The weather was incredibly beautiful which is about a common as penguin teeth in northern France in late October. I decided to thank the Lord for that.

I had a hopeful day, telling myself good tales, true tales. But, it would have been misery if I hadn’t changed the narrative I recount to myself.

Listen to what this other fellow told himself:

“Love God, all you saints; God takes care of all who stay close to him, But he pays back in full those arrogant enough to go it alone. Be braev. Be strong. Don’t give up. Expect God to get here soon.” (Ps. 31:22-24, The Message).

The story we tell ourselves helps to determine whether we live with joy or if all our strength is sapped by anger, doubt, and self-hate. If you look at it from God’s perspective, the story is positive, full of hope.

Stop and think a bit. What story have you been telling yourself today? This week? This life? If this story is poisoning your existence, what must you do to change it?

Hey! What are you going to do?

Share with the other readers of Coffee Stains, ways you’ve found to change your “story” when you know it’s hurting you. Write your suggestions here.

“You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out God hates all the same people you do” – Anne Lamott


“A man is incomplete until he is married. After that, he is finished.” (

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