living a better story
I've been reading A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller, on the recommendation of my friend Michelle.
Miller is narrating his movement from the couch into a better story, inspired by the process of turning his memoirs into a movie.
He talks about the stories we tell, we listen to, and most importantly, the stories we live. I feel like I need to go back and read the book again, to allow the challenge to sink in and actually get me off the couch.
If I am being fair, I'm probably not on the couch, in that I am actually involved in some creative, energising, life giving, 'better' stories. However, I was challenged by Miller's observations of the life of a writer, as a life of words, dreams, imagining - a life less lived than written about. I often get caught in the dreaming, the imagining, in the words, preferring their familiarity, comfort, and safety to the risky business of living a good story. Because, as Miller notes, the better stories involve the hero(ine) overcoming conflict to achieve the unachievable goal, beating the odds, sacrificing all, taking risks.
Being fair, there is an element of risk about my story, answering a call of God to create opportunities for new forms of church to emerge, which involves challenging the mighty institution that is The Church; specifically, putting the idea out there for a new community called the Esther Project, and being totally at peace with the possibility that it might not 'succeed', and that this journey is a very public journey, and the risk is that I might fail on a large stage with the spotlight on me ... and there are sacrifices I make, though they seem so petty I can't bring myself to name them (luxuries of food and theatre, gym membership, time off).
Being honest, there is much that is still quite safe, reserved, afraid, about the choices I make - I don't put my hand up for the difficult suburbs, the overseas mission. There are creature comforts I would be loathe to relinquish, like my M*A*S*H dvds, car, bed, health, car, contents insurance and roof over my head.
So Donald Miller's story of getting up off the couch to live a better story invites me to ask questions of the story I am living. I may, on reflection, decide I am living a good story, with challenge and risk, plenty of friends, and in relationship with God.
I may see ways I can improve my story, and I suspect we all might see that there is always somewhere new to take the hero/ine of our story, a new challenge, in order to move the character forward.
The thing I set out to record here as one of the particular challenges to me, is this: that 'a good storyteller doesn't just tell a better story ... they invite other people into the story with them, giving them a better story too.'
May we find the better story we might live, and as we do, bring others along with them, giving them a better story, too.