Thursday, March 6, 2014

Falling Forward into a Better Story

Photo by matthew_hull.

A few days ago, I ran with the unicorns at Donald Miller’s Storyline conference. I say “unicorns” because we were all in What if? and vision-casting mode for our lives. And because “unicorns” is a word you don’t hear every day. 

Storylines goal is to help you clarify your goals so you can live a better story. 

I came home Sunday buzzing with anticipation. And possibilities. And an eighth of a teaspoon of gumption.

But Monday came. Fortunately, a spare set of boot straps helped me pull myself up to a respectable height Tuesday. But it’s Thursday, and Im groaning into the suds while I scrub pots and pans.

Why the angst after Don and his buddies inspired me so well over the weekend?

I stop washing. Slow my breathing. What is this feeling? I reach around inside and pull up Fear. How can I be afraid? I just spent a weekend in San Diego, for Pete’s sake! Fear keeps thrumming, so I rustle around inside some more and pull out a scrap of paper that reads, “What if I can’t make a great story? Or worsewhat if I dont really want to change?” 

Oh, God. Couldn’t I just have pulled out the flimsier-and-easier-to-deal-with feeling of Apathy? With apathy, you hardly have to feel at all. Status quo. Just keep going. Everything’s fine.

But the groaning continues, so I rummage around again. Dig deeper. I pull out Longing. Longing for more. Not more stuff. Not more money. What then? I concentrate harder. Ah, there it is. Glowing in the darkness behind that broken dream I forgot. The groaning for more Life. Not longer life. Just more packed into what I’m already allotted. I hear an echo in my heart: Jesus came that we may have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10b).

Normally, Id be whooping it up over a promise like that. Except, the word that catches my attention isnt abundantly; the word that hooks me and reels me in is may. As in, I have permission. I can if I want. But heres the question: Do I really want? Will I really grab life by the throat and say, “Come on! We’ve got STUFF to do, FUN to have, PEOPLE to love”? I want to say You bet! But theres that fear thing tugging my sleeve. Urging me to use wisdom and think this through before making any rash decisions.

Remember when Jesus asked that blind guy what he wanted? I used to think that was a stupid question. Obviously, he wants so SEE, Jesus! Everyone knows that. Pffft. (Insert dramatic eye rolling here.)

But as the “blind guy” myself now, facing the Great Physician, knowing my whole life stands on the brink of Change or Not Change, I get why Jesus asked that question. And I see His kindness in letting me choose what and how much I want. Or how little.

Oh, how I want to want this promised abundant life.

As I drain the sink and watch the bubbles pop, I think about the first part of John 10:10, which says the thief comes to kill, steal, and destroy. 

But what if the devil isn’t the only one causing me mayhem, stealing and destroying all the good stuff God intends for me to enjoy? What if I am sometimes the thief in my own life, simply because I would rather watch from the sidelines than take part? Maybe the devil doesn’t have to show up so often because I do a pretty good job myself just by letting entropy take its course. 

A sobering thought: I help the thief ruin my life.

Um, about that question, Jesus: I wantI choosea better story. Abundant life. Not the path of No Good Story Here. 

So, yes, please. I choose a better story. (Did You hear me over the sound of my knocking knees?)

What about you, friend? Does longing hide behind a broken dream in your heart? Do you long for a more lively, abundant life—a real page turner? As Donald Miller said last weekend, “Pick a direction and move toward it.” It’s that easy. And that hard. 

Come on. We can do this together. We’re sure to make a lot of mistakes, but at least we’ll be falling forward. Together.

(And if your knees are knocking like mine are, do yourself a favor and read Jon Acuff’s article, The Ugly Truth About Bravery.)