I have been reading this book by Donald Miller, and he is absolutely brilliant and completely honest – something rarely seen these days. In his book, he is in the process of making a movie, and along this process he learns the importance of having a good story. Miller says that a story is a condensed version of life; therefore, some of the same principles that make a good story will make a good life. The main character must want something and overcome conflict to get whatever it is he or she wants. Miller also points out that many people are not living a good story and that he finds himself often checking out of his current life and living in his daydreams. (This of course is explained much more eloquently and in detail in his book so you really need to check it out!) This checking out and living in daydreams struck a chord within me because I often find myself looking out a window or thinking up some story in my head. This probably sounds really crazy to some of you, but sometimes I find myself not really participating in my own life. And to have a good story you must be an active participant in your own life, and I really want my life to be a good story.
But I have a theory as to why I, and possibly some of you, are not active participants and daydream all day. When we watch a movie or read a good book, we are often transported to a world completely different from our own, and the characters in the movies and books we love often encounter some of the most difficult hardships anyone will face. We love these books and movies, but when it comes to our own lives we shy away from getting out there because it means inevitably you will face tough times in some form or another. If you are really living and participating in the story, then hardships are incredibly difficult to detach from. And we want to avoid the tough stuff at all costs, and that we cannot avoid we want to detach from it as not to incur any pain at all.
I think that is one of my problems – I don’t want to fail and I don’t want to hurt so I have stopped trying at some things and I have tried to detach myself and stop feeling. Loving people who don’t love you or loving those who leave you hurts to the point that sometimes it’s hard to breathe so I have stopped making the effort to let people in and those who are in could be relocated at the smallest slight. Because people can hurt you and leave you, then it’s better to leave or hurt them first so as to spare my heart pain. Can I tell you that this is the loneliest sentiment in the world, and you can’t really live at all in this state much less live a good story. I know from extensive experience. To live a good story and a good life, then you have to feel – the joy and the pain, the love and the loss, and everything in between. It’s going to be difficult and at times you will not be able to breathe; however not to feel is to not live at all.
Another element Miller points to in this living a good story is identifying the Writer – the One who types away at the keyboard or puts pen to paper in your life. For me the Writer is God, and He writes the best story. At times, I don’t listen to the Writer and I go off on my own and do what I want to do. Most often that is to my detriment or disappointment; if I would have followed the Writer, the story would be much better. My personal issue is that I want there to be some sort of neon sign telling me which direction I should go, but the Writer is more apt to appear in a still, small voice or in words from the Bible or from good Christian friends.
At this time, I must tell you that this is a time of great pain for me and my family. My grandmother – the very heart of our entire family is ill with cancer and the evil disease is taking a toll on her body. The thought of her not being in my life breaks my heart and turns my world upside down. I think if I start crying I might not be able to stop. My Mamaw is literally a second mother to me and my sisters. Our parents have to work and make a living, and we spent a great deal of time with our grandparents before and after school and during the summer. Spending time with them instilled in us a love and respect for the role they play in our lives and our family, and they taught us about working hard, doing our best in all that we did, and helping others who could not help themselves. I cannot accurately describe the phenomenal affect my grandparents had on my life and on anyone they come into contact with really. Just to name a few of the things that Mamaw passed onto me is a love of flowers, a sassy attitude, a love to cook for others, the need for our family to be happy, a strong faith in God, and the practice of speaking our mind even if that is unpopular. To the say the least, Mamaw is a pillar in my life and her home a refuge from pain and heartache. She and my mother (her daughter) are my rocks! I love her more than life.
“I’ve heard it said
That people come into your life for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well I don’t know if I believe that’s true
But I know I’m who I am today because I knew you
I well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you
You’ll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have rewritten mine
By being my friend…
Who can say that I have been changed for the better?
I do believe I have been changed by the better
And because I knew you, I have been changed for good!”
- “For Good” from Wicked