Every life has a story. Whether it is a story worth telling and talking about, though, is up to you. --Donald Miller A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Last summer I read Donald Miller's A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. The book basically has you analyze your life as though you are writing a script, and asks, are you telling a good story? That's a lot to think about! Look at what you do in a week-- do your actions support your values? Like it or not, how we spend our time (and money) reveals a lot about what we value-- is it doing what we think is expected of us? what we feel obligated to do? Sometimes I stop and try to think, based on what our life has looked like this week, what am I telling my daughter that I value? Like it or not, a lot of what is taught is "caught".
The book also goes on to talk about what makes a good story--and it's not talking about the drama you see on reality television, or a list of accomplishments you could put on a resume. For me, the heart of a good story is good relationships. It's the time invested with people-- doing life together. It's following the path God leads you down--and you can bet He will send you on an adventure! Does my life always reflect my values? No, but it's important that I keep track of the story I'm writing. I hope that I am handing that pen over to God more often than I am wielding it myself. In the words of Ga-linda, I hope people can say "Because I knew you, I have been changed for good."
Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book-- things that will really make you think! Enjoy! And tell me, what story are you trying to write?
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.
People love to have lived a great story, but few people like the work it takes to make it happen.
Fear isn't only a guide to keep us safe; it's also a manipulative emotion that can trick us into a boring life.
I began to realize the stuff I spent money on was, in many ways, the sum of my ambitions. And those ambitions weren't the stuff of good stories.
[people] come out of college wanting to change the world...get married...have kids...But they get into the middle [of their story] and discover it was harder than they thought...they take it out on their spouses and go looking for an easier story.
[from his friend Josh Shipp]: "When something hard happens to you, you have two choices in how to deal with it. You can either get bitter or better. I chose to get better. It's made all the difference."
Half the commercials on television are selling us something that will make life easier. Part of me wonders if our stories aren't being stolen by the easy life.
We believe we will be made whole by our accomplishments, our possessions or our social status.
I realized that for years I'd thought of love as something that would complete me, make all my troubles go away.
When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.
A good movie has memorable scenes. So does a good life...I like those scenes in the Bible where God stops people and asks them to build an altar...I don't think God really gets much from looking at a pile of rocks. Instead, I think God wanted His people to build altars for their sake, something that would help them remember...remember the time they were rescued or given grace...We have to force ourselves to create these scenes. We have to get up off the couch, and turn the tv off, and blow up inner tubes and head to the river, write the poem and deliver it in person...[stop] the car and hike to the top of the hill...dance at weddings. We have to make altars.
We don't know how much we are capable of loving until the people we love are being taken away, until a beautiful story is ending.
A good storyteller doesn't just tell a better story, though. He invites other people into the story with him, giving them a better story too.
In Ecclesiastes, the only practical advice given about living a meaningful life is to find a job you like, enjoy your marriage, and obey God. It's as though God is saying write a good story, take somebody with you, and let me help.
If you aren't telling a good story, nobody thinks you died too soon; they just think you died.