Living a Page-Turner
I want to live a page-turner. I want my life to tell a compelling, passionate story of God’s endless grace, encompassing love, and compassion for the world.
6 years ago at a leadership conference, I had the opportunity to listen to Christian author, Donald Miller, share his love for the art of narrative. This talk changed the way I think about life. Miller defined “story” as a situation in which a character simply overcomes conflict and is changed in the end. He said that, “to live a great story, our lives have to reflect the elements of a great story”. And arguably the most essential element of an engaging, page-turning story is conflict.
Conflict? As a natural perfectionist and people pleaser, I am often tempted to run from conflict. Well, honestly it’s more than a “run”. My aversion to conflict, failure, and loss actually looks more like a full-bore sprint — a real, arms pumping, wind sucking, fists clenching, hopelessly-determined type of sprint.
I have spent most of my life suffering from W.P.F.S.
Yes, White Picket Fence Syndrome. Medically speaking, this is a very serious, but very common condition in which our goals in life are warped by the world’s false standard of happiness and perfection. When my W.P.F.S. is in full swing, my “happy ending” looks a lot like an American fairy-tale. Something like this…
You get the picture.
To be honest, based on my cushioned and sheltered childhood, I had every right to believe in this warped happily-ever-after. Somehow I had the nauseatingly perfect, high school career, something out of a movie. As the cheer captain who dated the football player and became the prom queen, I lived by my own mantra, “keep the Son in your eyes, smile, and wear bows.” I optimistically believed that if I did those things, life would be full of sunshine, pink peonies, and Tiffany boxes.
Then, once upon a time, hardship and loss and brokenness fell hard on my fairy-tale. (Yes, conflict.) There was no running from this stuff. I went to funerals for dear friends and family. Lots of funerals. I experienced deep heartbreak as a four-year relationship ended with plenty of collateral damage. I failed and fell on my face. Hard. I was told “no” and “your not good enough”. And I went to even more funerals.
But, I think Donald Miller was right. Without the element of conflict, stories are stale and boring. The main character is not a hero unless he or she overcomes some sort of challenge. I am thankful for the loss and failures I’ve experienced, because they have consistently highlighted the true hero in my life – Christ.
I believe that we all have a story to tell. I hope mine is not about me, but about redemption, grace, and our loving, BIG God!
Blank pages await each of us as we wake up everyday. I hope that you will take a vow to write every page of your story with purpose. Pledge to appreciate the joyful chapters in life—whether they are great triumphs or small details (like peonies and sunshine). And embrace the seasons of hardship, for those are the rich chapters in life when we grow the most. Take risks, zealously chase your dreams, and live everyday with intention. “Dare greatly”, as Teddy Roosevelt would say.
I refuse to allow my story to be boring. I pray daily that the narrative I’m sharing with the world would bring glory to God; that each chapter would in someway illustrate His character and spread His Story to the world. I pray that every paragraph is written wisely and with unconditional love. And while I fail daily, my sincere desire is to punctuate each sentence with His kindness, abounding joy, and deep compassion for others.
I know now that I will never be perfect and my story will probably not look like a fairy-tale when it is finished. But I have no doubt that if my co-author is the creator of the Universe, this story will be a page-turner!
My prayer is that yours is too!