Like many others, I read Donald Miller’s book, “Blue Like Jazz” in about three sittings. That’s not only cause it’s an easy read, but mostly because he’s a great story teller. I enjoyed Don’s first book a lot (I can call him Don, after all, like everyone else who reads his book, I feel like I know him). But, I’ll admit I mostly enjoyed Blue Like Jazz, it wasn’t too life changing or transforming for me.
But in A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, he really struck a chord with me. In fact, I was hooked on the first page where he wrote,
If you watched a movie about a guy who wanted a Volvo and worked for a few years to get it, you wouldn’t cry at the end when we 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 just seen. The truth is, you woldn’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 feel 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…
For those of you who know me, you’ll know why this paragraph struck such a chord with me. The last five years I’ve been living with a deepening and growing discontent with our consumer driven and (especially) suburban world. I’ve asked myself over and over again, “What are we doing?” It seems like the answer constantly is, “I don’t really know” or “watching TV” or “stuff.” (My life included, I’m the worst of the offenders!)
Don gets at the heart of my question. After all, I’m not really concerned about what you are doing right now. Well, i am concerned about that a little considering you are reading my blog…
“What story am I living?”
Now, a good, aware christian can answer this question by saying “I’m living as a witness to the risen Messiah, Jesus Christ, in all the areas of my life.”
Yes, that’s hopefully true. I think that should be the core of our story. It should be the foundation.
But, I think more of us need to answer that question more specifically to our personal lives and callings.
I think that some of us are living great stories and we are really unaware of how great they are. An example of this might be someone who is working as a teacher. I sense it would be easy to miss just how significant of a role you have in the shaping so many young people in significant ways. That would be an easy story to miss when students are driving you nuts or you have spend your evenings grading papers during the all the Phillies playoff games. Being aware of the story you are living would (hopefully) make the sacrifices worth it.
Others of us are living short-term stories in the context of a larger story. By that, I mean that we’re living one story to get onto a larger, more meaningful part of the story. A good example of this might be someone in college or finishing up a graduate degree so they can pursue a specific calling. Knowing your greater story makes all the late nights and mind-numbing reading worth it.
Others of us are blessed enough to be living significant stories. Maybe we’re building a family. Maybe you’re a social worker in a bad area of the city. Maybe you are serving the handicapped. Maybe you are trying to bring together a broken family. Maybe you are counter culturally living your faith in a difficult work environment. The possibilities are endless really…
As I read Don’s book, he wrote in a such a way that really helped me look carefully at the story that I am currently living. Honestly, it gave me such important perspective that my wife and I have been able to finally see a glimpse of what we want to do in life beyond web-designing and starbucks. We’re living in a short-term story at the moment and if God is really leading, I won’t wake up at 4:30am on February 11, 2018 and go to Starbucks (that’s the day I turn 40).
Rather, we’ll hopefully be living a different story by then. Honestly, that makes all these mornings at 4:30am worth it. And, if those dreams come true, I’d be more than willing to wake up at 4:30am if I had to!
(Note: just for the record, the story I am talking about should, Lord willing, include us still being at The Well).