This idea of Living Your Story really started when Kevin and I came across one of Donald Miller’s books, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. I so appreciate Miller’s candor and his story telling style. He doesn’t try to fill in all the gaps or give the reader a How To sort of book. He takes us on a journey, not a destination.
In this story, Miller was faced with the question, am I living a good story? The question came from the most unlikely of scenarios. Sometime after completing his bestselling autobiography, Blue Like Jazz, he was approached by two gentlemen who wanted to make his book into a movie. Flattered and intrigued, he said yes. During the screen writing process, changes and adjustments were made to his life story to make the film more engaging. The screenwriters told him in order to make a good movie, the story needed more action; it had to move in such a way that the audience would want to hang on and keep watching. This left him with a disturbing thought, if his story needed changing then maybe it wasn’t a good one. This question set him off on a quest to live a more vibrant and engaging life.
As a writer, he spent a great deal of time writing about God, faith, and life, but as he was doing it, life was passing him by. He was writing about story but he wasn’t living his. He wasn’t engaging in his own. Let’s face it, whether you are engaging or not, you are living your story.
Long before I had this epiphany, my close friend was already well on her way to living an engaged life. She had been taking stock of her story and saw all the ways she had been passively living her life. This revelation was painful, and as a friend, it was painful to watch her grieve. But she was present in her struggle. She stayed in it and let God heal her, transform her, and love her. It has been incredible to watch. For an entire year, she was encouraging me, her friends, her family, and anyone who would listen to engage, embrace, and enjoy life.
I wish I could say I caught on and took up the cheer engage, embrace, enjoy, engage, embrace, enjoy. I didn’t. Maybe I wasn’t ready. But when I picked up Miller’s book I was ready to listen.
It has been a journey, to be sure. Along the way, I have discovered to live an engaged life, I must be present. I must take an active role like a character rather than a passive one like a reader. I know, not all readers are passive. I have to be invested in my story, be engaged with the characters, and be part of the writing process. Passive living is technically living, but I’m not sure it’s life.
Happy early birthday to my friend who daily engages, embraces, and enjoys her life. As I often say, I liked you before, but you are a lot more fun now. Living life with this engaged you is like watching a movie in living color. “You know I love you more than my luggage.”