Sunday, June 13, 2010

Produce, Pageants, and Tow Trucks

Truth be told, I was a slightly odd child. Painfully shy, I was destined to be a loner. My mom recalls most of my free time spent held up in some kind of make-shift fort with my brigade of stuffed animals, always telling stories. Stories about far away adventures, stories comprised of bits and pieces of memories woven together, stories about growing up, stories that made no sense at all to anyone but me. Naturally, my mother recognized my love for stories and highly encouraged reading; but I never loved imagination was too big for books. I was the author of my own stories, as I still am. This story, however, is much larger than ever before.

I still love stories, fiction or nonfiction. I especially love hearing people's stories. Stories connect us at a very basic human level because, well, we all have one. For the past few years, I have been uncertain what kind of story I am in. So many people are so focused on the big story: What are you going to do with your life? Where will you be in 10 years? When are you getting married? Etc, etc, etc. The answer: I have no clue. Great stories pay close attention to detail, to the smaller stories within the story. And for now, that is what I'm doing...focusing on the smaller stories. Stories of summer bucket lists, of having my car break down in the middle of nowhere, of friends who are closer than family (who will rescue you when your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere). Yes, the little stories which define the larger one...which define me.

Along with my shift in focus, my understanding of how stories work is growing. Currently, I am reading Donald Miller's New book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years (which I highly recommend). He observes that, most often, our favorite stories are those laden with conflict. As he works at interpreting the story of his life, he observes,

"I wanted it to be an easy story. But nobody really remembers easy stories. Characters have to face their greatest fears with courage. That's what makes a story good. If you think about the stories you like most, they probably have lots of conflict. There is probably death at stake, inner death or actual death, you know. These polar charges, these happy and sad things in life, are like colors that God uses to draw the world."

...I am working on coming into a new sense of appreciation for the conflicts in my story. So much of my life has been spent running from the kind of conflict that could make me into a great character with a great story. It's a struggle to believe that my struggles can produce the same kind of beauty and joy as those of characters in films, but it's a struggle worth tackling.

Discovering I don't know what story I am living is turning into a beautiful, truth-filled journey of healing and self-discovery. I am finding my story is one filled with character-building conflict, love, and beautiful people, among other things. And I look forward with great hope and anticipation.

This story is going to be awesome.
Correction, it is awesome.

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