Inari was born in southern Finland. 22 years later she was born of water and of the spirit in the United Kingdom, where she met the missionaries while studying art in Coventry University. After completing her Masters in Media Art she served a mission in Sweden, which left her with a family of hundreds of missionary brothers and sisters all over the world. Currently Inari is working to pay off her student loan before embarking on further adventures. The attached image titled “Amelié” is a self-portrait after Renoir’s “Luncheon of the Boating Party”, one of fifteen in a series (currently underway), combining the search of identity with art history.
“The universe is not made of atoms; it’s made of stories.”
I have often heard expressed the idea that we all are constantly telling ourselves a story of our lives in order to make sense of our experiences; an inner narration to structure everything into a coherent whole. This thought was brought to the fore in my life recently when I finally realised the real reason why I hadn’t been going to church for the past several months.
The backdrop to my inner story is that the world is open and friendly, and that things usually work out if you’re willing to put in some effort and not expect or think you deserve something. A mix of Lutheran humility and Mormon positivity, if you will. In my story I am the kind of character that does things. I make plans and then follow them (leaving room for happenstance, of course). I have friends in different countries, I travel, I work, and I’m a creative and overall positive, can-do, happy person.
On one such travel I met a young man (a convert like me) and we both knew there and then that this was it, and we were engaged after knowing one another for two days. What a story, right? Five months later we were bummed out by the hassle of making plans to accommodate other people (including those in bureaucracy) and decided to elope to Reno.
When things went wrong, it didn’t really fit into my story. I couldn’t make sense of it. I came back home from the States not knowing what to think. I felt like I lost control of the story. The weeks and months that followed were very unstable times. I couldn’t make heads or tails of it. It was like my mental author had slammed into a writer’s block and couldn’t make anything coherent come out of her pen.
That’s when I stopped going to church.
Only recently I realised that the reason for not going wasn’t that I was too tired or too depressed (as I told via email to some of the branch members), but because I didn’t know what to tell people. My voice developed a habit of cracking whenever I had to say anything about my current situation, and that made me hate the thought of going to my very small branch (where everyone knows everything about everybody else) where people, expecting me and my American fiance, would ask the inevitable question: “What happened?”
What had happened indeed? I didn’t have an official explanation. My inner propaganda office seemed to have gone on holiday. I couldn’t deal with the situation. I had no tools to start unpacking the tangle of emotions in my head. I wasn’t sure what character I was anymore. I was lost.
Time has passed and I have words for the situation now; I have a story to make sense of it by (though my voice still cracks every time the matter comes up). But now, having experienced a failure in this inner narration, I’m beginning to question this story-telling practice. Telling a story necessitates editing. History is written by winners, so we never get the whole picture. That applies to life too: you will only ever know your own story. What if you get the wrong end of the stick?
Then add to all that the fact that this story telling probably isn’t completely conscious either. Most likely there are several factors, such as environment, society, upbringing, genetic factors, the chemical balance of the brain etc… at work too. In Segullah there have been some conversations already about negativity and our inner voice being affected by the example of family and friends. I think we are aware that we’re not completely in control of ourselves.
But faith also plays a part in this. As people of faith we are more prone to seeing an overall meaningful story in our lives; we make sense of the chaos through our faith. A tragedy becomes a trial of faith, good news are a blessing from Heavenly Father, there is a bigger picture that you will be able to see in hindsight, and that it’s all part of the plan. I do believe these things, and I have found thoughts like these to be helpful in difficult times, when my inner author has gone astray.
And I don’t think I could stop telling the story even if I tried.
How has your inner author impacted your life? Have you ever been in a situation where yours and someone else’s inner stories differed widely even though you were both there? How can we help others (or ourselves) deal better with the inner narration?