Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Story Called Life

We all have roles to play in a story.







These are the roles in which I'm regularly cast in my story. I remember -- back in the days when my friends I listened to Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots and Spin Doctors -- realizing I didn't have to be a teacher like my dad, my mom and my aunt. I began embracing the journalism world, first by writing for then editing my high school newspaper then on into college and eventually the real world. I figured that's where I'd say.

Before a little girl gave me new perspective. We are shaped by the other people in our story, regardless of how small in size they are.

My story doesn't have be predictable and, I've learned, probably isn't going to turn out just as I expect. But that's part of the thrill of turning the pages. Reading "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life" by Donald Miller has me thinking about life, and how we write our stories moment by moment.

I'm glad I'm not the same person as I was when I listened to "Interestate Love Song." The soundtrack to my life would certainly be different now. I'm certainly different now. At least in some ways. And that's how it is supposed to be.

If the point of life is the same as the point of a story, the point of life is character transformation.

It used to frustrate me I didn't know what was coming next, but I've learned that getting to What's Next is life. We meet people along the way. And then those people help shape us. We might even get lost along the way. And that's OK too because in finding our way back might mean we discover something beautiful. We hear songs, read books, laugh, cry and see the sights as we travel to What's Next.

And maybe What's Next even changes as we work our way there. I learned when I traded my notebook and pen for a baby wipes and sippy cups that something good can become something great if we just take a chance. Sometimes change is scary, but without it our story would be boring, and we might just miss something Someone is trying to show us.

I believe there is a writer outside ourselves, plotting a better story for us, interacting with us, even, and whispering a better story into our consciousness.

Thankfully, we aren't alone in our stories. The main characters in my story right now are my husband, my daughter and my son. We have friends and family who often show up in the pages of our lives. And through it all, we have roles to embrace. I have realized lately that being a mom means I teach my children about their roles in our family, in our community and in the world. They're going to learn regardless of whether I intentionally teach them.

In the absence of a family story, she’d chosen a story in which there was risk and adventure, rebellion and independence. “She’s not a bad girl,” my friend said. “She was just choosing the best story available to her.” I pictured his daughter flipping through the channels of life, as it were, stopping on a story that seemed most compelling at the moment, a story that offered her something, anything, because people can’t live without a story, without a role to play.

It's eye-opening to watch Cate play her role. She's a big sister now. (See, her brother's role is clearly defined on his shirt pictured above.) And she takes that seriously, not wanting Ben to cry and often checking on him. Her independence has exploded as her script often includes "I try myself" before a multitude of tasks. She knows which way we turn to go to Luke's house or Kroger or church or Daddy's office.

Having a toddler and newborn who constantly need me can be tiring. But I'm not in this story alone. I really do love my story. I've always loved it, but there are peaks and valleys, and right now I feel myself rising to a peak surrounded by exactly the right people. I can't see very far on the other side, but I'm certain it will be beautiful and worth turning the page to get to.

Maybe it will even look like this ...

Mitre Peak at Milford Sound in New Zealand

I wondered at all this exposition God had created, as though it were an invitation to an epic so grand it might match the scenery. The mountains themselves call us into greater stories, I thought.

[All quotes from "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life" by Donald Miller.]


  1. This is really insightful. I was just talking to my little sister yesterday about how every person in our life is a part of our life fabric that's daily being woven. The amount of power we give people to influence us plays a huge part in how our story is written.

    I heard a sermon one time about how the Scripture in Hebrews about us being perfected by the Author and Finisher of our faith and how our lives of perfection starts when we hand over the pen to our Author. We concentrate so much sometimes on the being perfect part that we forget it means a total and complete submission to our Author.

    Thanks for stirring up these thoughts today. Love you!

  2. I like the idea of stories... I think I've always wanted to be in a page-turner where the heroine has a truly refreshing romance, lots of adventure, and gets to the end having come so far and accomplished so much. What I didn't realize until lately is that the way to have such a story is to invite Jesus to be the MAIN CHARACTER in it! When my life becomes all about Him, He enables me to be a heroine, he becomes my refreshing romance, His purpose and will for me is daily an incredible adventure, and when I get to the end having come so far with Jesus and accomplished so much for the kingdom, the REAL story is just beginning! How could it get any better than that?!? :)

  3. I'm about 13 chapters into this book - and I love it! I have to admit, some days I feel like my story is pretty stagnant (maybe because I don't have a family of my own yet to play those close "characters"), but I do know the Ultimate Character and that He won't let me down.

    Thank you for a beautiful post and I'm so glad you have such a great story! :)