Thursday, December 27, 2012

blog feature: storyline

When I was in high school, I was a fundamentalist, conservative, and a Republican--because I thought I had to be to be a Christian. The problem isn't that I was any of those things, because I know, love, and respect many people who are; the problem is, I was inauthentic. I could argue for things I had never been able to reconcile with Christianity or agree with in my heart (like the death penalty) because I thought I had to believe in them or my faith was in jeopardy. God would be disappointed in me if I didn't buy into this Americanized Christianity 100%. Looking back, I can realize how crazy that seems, but I was young, and legalism was more comfortable than grace.

In college, a friend gave me the book Blue Like Jazz for my birthday, and it turned everything upside down for me. It brought me back to the basics. It revitalized my faith. It allowed me to be authentic. It changed my life.

The author, Don Miller, has since become a friend, and continues to challenge my faith and change my life. A few years ago, he wrote a book called A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, about the process of turning Blue Like Jazz, a sort of essay-memoir hybrid, into a movie. He looks at the elements of a good story, and what it would look like to live a story good enough for people to want to read. Here are some quotes from A Million Miles.

“If you watched a movie about a guy who wanted a Volvo and worked for years to get it, you wouldn’t cry at the end when he drove off the lot, testing the windshield wipers. You wouldn’t tell your friends you saw a beautiful movie or go home and put a record on to think about the story you’d seen. The truth is, you wouldn't remember that movie a week later, except you’d feel robbed and want your money back. Nobody cries at the end of a movie about a guy who wants a Volvo.

But we spend years actually living those stories, and expect our lives to be meaningful. The truth is, if what we choose to do with our lives won't make a story meaningful, it won’t make a life meaningful either.” 

“I don't wonder anymore what I'll tell God when I go to heaven when we sit in the chairs under the tree, outside the city........I'll tell these things to God, and he'll laugh, I think and he'll remind me of the parts I forgot, the parts that were his favorite. We'll sit and remember my story together, and then he'll stand and put his arms around me and say, "well done," and that he liked my story. And my soul won't be thirsty anymore. Finally he'll turn and we'll walk toward the city, a city he will have spoken into existence a city built in a place where once there'd been nothing. ” 

Don was one of my favorite authors long before I even met him, and for good reason. He's incredibly talented. He has helped me to live a better story (and better vacations!). He continues to challenge my thinking through conversations, books, and his blog, that you can find here. Don and several friends make thought-provoking contributions every week, and it's the perfect blog for a new year. Add it to your list, and see if it can help you find ways to live a better story in 2013.

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