Monday, February 28, 2011
The story of our lives
I'm reading the book they gave us for the writing class- A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. I can't make much progress, because I stop every few minutes to laugh out loud, read aloud something I can't resist sharing with Andy or just contemplate my life dream of meeting Donald Miller. I have this feeling that if I ever met Donald Miller (and I would definitely call him "Donald" to begin with, not "Don" like the sweater-vest stalker guy from the last blog) I would be able to tell him the story of my life in just a few sentences because he would intrinsically understand its relevance and meaning. Actually, I'd probably write my story because I think that Donald would understand my inability to speak my thoughts clearly and our shared preference for making sense of life in the form of a Christian non-fiction essay. (Weirdos) In fact, it would probably be best if I met Donald over Gmail chat or something. But anyway, I have this feeling that Donald would understand me instantly. I began to feel that way when I read Blue Like Jazz and was stupefied as to how a guy in Portland got into my head and wrote some of my best thoughts down before I ever had a chance to. I was a little jealous that he got to them first, but that feeling was completely outweighed by the overwhelming sense of relief that I wasn't the only one thinking those thoughts.
In reality, a lot of people must think Don's thoughts, or at least relate to them really well. Or maybe they just like cartoons of rabbits and astronauts cleverly interspersed into the witty monologue. I think people just like that Don makes Jesus seem like he would actually like us- a thought that I had last night when I was sitting on my sofa fighting back tears. I thought, "Donald Miller says that he thinks that Jesus would like him. That he would be the kind of guy that you can sit down and talk to and really be heard out." And I thought about that for a while on the sofa in between the same thoughts that always have me hating myself for the same reasons. "Maybe Don is right. Maybe Jesus really would sit here and listen to me talk about how hurt I am and how much I hate myself. Maybe He'd really gently say, 'Well, I don't hate you.' and maybe I would actually believe him."
Anyway, that's why I think Donald Miller would understand me. Because you have to have had moments when you sit on sofas and really deal with the reality that you're a giant disappointment to yourself and other people to get to a place where you think, "But you know what? I think that Jesus would like me." I think that when you don't ever have to experience something that leaves you on the sofa contemplating whether or not Jesus would like you, chances are you don't really need Jesus to like you. I do. I need Jesus to like me. And I think that Donald Miller does too. And I think that would connect us in a very writery, self-conscious, Jesus-dependent kind of way.
Anyway, in A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Donald is talking about how he got the chance to "edit" his life while writing a screenplay about his life. Sort of a weird and amazing task. This has gotten me to thinking about my life, which is the only reason that people can tolerate people's books about their lives, and hopefully the reason you might tolerate this blog- because when we read about another person analyzing their lives, it automatically makes us analyze ours. I haven't even gotten to the important parts about conflict and resolution and all of that in this book, but I'm already thinking about what I need to change about my life's story.
Donald says story is about a person who wants something and has to overcome conflict to get it. The first element alone is a huge dilemma for me, and probably for a lot of people. What in the world do I want? And, if you're a Christian, is what you want worth wanting in God's eyes? And, how do you know? I guess that's why you have to read your Bible so much. Because the only way to determine if what you want is what God wants is by asking Him and then reading His answer. It'd be cool if we could talk to God on Gmail chat, too and get a really precise answer, but it doesn't work like that yet.
So this has gotten me thinking about the parts of my story that I don't like. As I trudge through Snapshots, I realize more and more that I need to edit the slow spots, stream-lining them and making them purposeful and captivating. People get bored easily. And boredom doesn't lead to good things, you know what I mean?
So last night after I had been told again how loathsome I am by the people who think I am loathsome, and after I hated myself on the sofa, and after I thought about Jesus and Donald Miller, I got real, real sorry for myself. And I wasn't nice to Andy, who is always nice to me, even when I hate myself and whine about it. And this is the part of my life that I want to edit. This is the part that I get stuck in and it's not a good part of the story.
I have conflict in my life. Everyone does. It's an essential part of the story. A person wants something and overcomes conflict to get it. The essential editing that's going on in my life right now involves making sure that what I want is what God wants, and trusting Him to overcome the conflict on my behalf to get His result. Some people do not like that story. Some people is sometimes me. Sometimes I don't like this story and I wish that my story was one where I lived in a really cute cottage home, within driving distance of my mother, and my biggest conflict was weeding the garden with Andy on Saturdays. But that's not my story. God wants to write a different story with my life, and it involves risk and conflict and being really hurt and misunderstood. And you know, the crazy thing is, I know the ending. In the end, Jesus really will sit or stand or something with me and maybe I'll kneel or jump or dance or climb in His lap or give Him a kiss- I don't know, but it will be good. And He'll say, "Meredith, I didn't hate you then. And I'm so glad to see you now. Well done, good and faithful servant." That's the end of my story. And He'll explain to the people who didn't understand me what He was writing in me and how He was teaching me to edit out the parts He didn't like and that weren't good for me or them.
So, what's your story? What do you want and why? What conflict is in your life and who are you trusting to help you overcome it? You know you're already thinking about it... Live, edit, write life well.