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Monday, October 19, 2015
Are you living the story you want to be living?
So what is your story?
I recently read Don Miller's awesome book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. It's all about story, and it opened my eyes to the fact that good, bad or indifferent, our lives tell a story.
To me, your story is about partnering with God to live toward your full identity and destiny. The logical extension of this is that the story of your marriage is about partnering with God to see that your spouse also comes into their true identity and destiny.
Two Stories Become One
Because you are married, your story doesn't stand alone. You are also an integral part of someone else's story. The idea of "two becoming one" extends to the story a husband and wife are writing together. Of course you each have unique roles in the story, but the characters are intimately intertwined.
Don Miller describes it this way. "It’s interesting that in the Bible, in the book of 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."
I actually think God's role is stronger than that of a "helper" in a story we write for ourselves. I believe that in a sense God is the author of our story, with us as the co-writers. Or maybe it's like God is the ghost writer (Holy Ghost writer?) but we get to put our name on the book. It's not that he dictates it line by line, but God creates us for a purpose and places inside of us a unique identity for accomplishing that purpose.
I believe God is also the instigator of our hopes and dreams and the One who provides constant encouragement and guidance. Too often we act as if our aspirations are a divine guessing game, as we try to figure out God's plan. But I've had times of earnest seeking when I've asked God to show me the way, and I got the sincere impression that he simply asked me in return, "What do you want?" I sometimes think we see our dreams as not being "holy" enough unless they involve selling all our possessions and moving to Africa to preach the Gospel. I believe all the dreams God puts in your heart are holy. Don't be afraid to dream big and believe that God can and will redirect you if it's not a good way to go.
Don't Be Afraid to Change Your Story
What's holding you back from living a larger story? For many, it's fear. Fear of failure? Fear getting it wrong? Miller say that, "great stories go to those who don’t give in to fear. The most often repeated commandment in the Bible is 'Do not fear.' It’s in there over two hundred times." He goes on to say that, "most of our greatest fears are relational. It’s all that stuff about forgiveness and risking rejection and learning to love. We think stories are about getting money and security, but the truth is, it all comes down to relationships."
"The ambitions we have will become the stories we live. If you want to know what a person’s story is about, just ask them what they want. If we don’t want anything, we are living boring stories, and if we want a Roomba vacuum cleaner, we are living stupid stories. If it won’t work in a story, it won’t work in life."
So what do you want in your story? What do you want in your relationships? Specifically, what do you want in your marriage? Yes it can be scary to risk wanting a larger marriage story than the one you are currently living, but that is the stuff of life.
Change your Story, Change You
"If the point of life is the same as the point of a story, the point of life is character transformation," says Miller. "We were designed to live through something rather than to attain something, and the thing we were meant to live through was designed to change us. The point of a story is the character arc, the change."
Yes, living a larger story in your marriage will change you. It will transform your marriage, and will probably significantly impact your spouse as well. Change can be frightening. After all we are creatures of comfort. Most of us don't tend to like change. It's disruptive and can be difficult work. But inevitably, if you want a better story, you've got to throw yourself into it and embrace the inevitable change.
"We don’t want to be characters in a story because characters have to move and breathe and face conflict with courage. And if life isn’t remarkable, then we don’t have to do any of that; we can be unwilling victims rather than grateful participants." I don't know about you, but I'd rather be a participant than a victim.
Don't Get Stuck in a Sentence
The Lord has been speaking to me a lot about story lately. It seems to be everywhere I turn. As I was reading this book, I heard a sermon preached by Eric Johnson entitled, "Don't Get Stuck in a Sentence."
I'm not sure why, but we seem to get stuck in our stories. We are struggling in a single sentence and somehow think that's the whole book. As Eric said, we may linger at an unhappy paragraph or a page and forget that our life is an entire book, yet unfinished. Maybe it's even a volume or an entire library, as our story intersects the many stories of others in our lives.
Miller's reason for us getting stuck in our story is that, "Humans are designed to seek comfort and order, and so if they have comfort and order, they tend to plant themselves, even if their comfort isn’t all that comfortable. And even if they secretly want for something better."
I've come across a lot of unhappy couples who seem stuck in their marriage story, trapped in a sentence, unwilling or unable to embrace the vulnerability required to write the book God has in mind for their future.
How would you like to change your story and the story of your marriage? Are you willing to risk dreaming a larger dream and to do what it takes to see it come true? Are you willing to risk dreaming with your spouse?
If you've read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years I'd love to hear what you thought of it. Leave a comment below.
Book Refrences: Miller, Donald (2009-08-26). A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life . Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Image Credit: aaron007 / 123rf.com
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