Allright, Don.  I get it.  You’ve made your point clearly to my silly, feeble brain.  There’s something important about story.  It started with a podcast I heard where you taught Mars Hill about how their story was important to their lives.  Then we downloaded this other teaching about it from your website.  Then I read your blog where you kept discussing (in an inspiring way, not as though you were beating a dead horse) about how you were writing this book about letting story guide the way you live your life and showing specific examples from your own life, even putting in parts of the book for we readers to look through and help give feedback on.

Then I read the book.  Wow.  First, I must say, that I’ve loved every book of yours that I’ve read (even those ones you mention that didn’t sell very many, I thought they were still great), but your writing has come of age in a powerful and poignant way.  There were multiple times while reading “A Million Miles in A Thousand Years,” when I was moved to tears.  Somehow your writing has become even more honest and meaningful and encouraging.  Thank you for that and for writing this book .  As I finished the book I found myself nearly shouting to my wife and my friend (we all read it together), “Why has nobody ever said this before!?  Of all the story-writers writing all the stories, knowing what makes a good story and what we people intuitively crave in one, and they only use it to sell their own stories?!  Why has no one else defined a story then challenged we common folk to live stories that we would want to read?!”  I still am a little shocked that this is just now coming out, but I’m glad its you who’ve brought this to us.  I am also glad and thankful that throughout, you point to God, our Writer, and how it’s not about what we do, but about following Our Writer’s Voice.

So to that end, and after reading how you wrote your “New Year’s Goals,” I thought I might reflect on the story I am living and look at what story God might be writing for me and my family.   (To my friends and family: Some of these things you read may be old news, some may seem new and weird/crazy, but the reason I am putting it out there is because I need the accountability in my story, I need some stake in the outcome of my story.  There’s not as much of an incentive to do these things if I don’t have my ten readers in on it, so here we go.)

A chubby, lazy character is not good for anyone, and right now that’s what I am.  I want to be a disciplined, healthy young man to look better for my wife, be in better shape to play with my daughters and students, and to keep my mental health positive by being able to feel good about myself.  You don’t watch a movie and root for the slob, and if an author was describing me in a book I wouldn’t read too far, so I want to change this about me.  My readers already know a bit about this and what it’s doing in my life.  They know my progress and what is happening so I won’t elaborate further.  This goal is also already helping me better manage my time and helping me to get up earlier and better.

I want my daughters to know the blessing of serving God and putting yourself out there.  I want our whole family to get out to the Nehemiah House in the Philippines.  Our church is even taking a trip back there in May; our family can’t afford this and it certainly won’t be easy to fly across the ocean with a newborn and 2 year old, but I feel like this is where God’s leading me.  I understand and believe that this is probably not going to happen this year, it would take a true miracle of God to get us over there 2 months after we have a baby.  It sounds crazy, I know, and I’m not going to push it where it isn’t right, but if God wants it for us, who am I to stand against God; also last year while I was in Cagayan De Oro, Mike told me that the next time I came back, I would bring my wife and kids.  The only thing is, we were not pregnant with baby number two then (and he knew we weren’t pregnant), but maybe he was foreshadowing, who knows?

Don, according to you, a good/sympathetic character wants something and overcomes conflict to get it.  Currently, I think I am living that out as I seek to facilitate relationships with teens and Jesus, but I feel drawn to a more difficult and more self-sacrificing story line.  I feel like God may be asking me to give more of myself.  This is going to sound crazy and out of character and maybe even silly, but I think that it would be glorifying to God to become a lawyer and work to right wrongs and injustices in 3rd world countries and maybe even our own.  Right now, UH Law is very affordable, has an Asia and Pacific discipline and will keep us here in HI a little longer.  This story is going to be really difficult.  Law school is hard and time-consuming.  What I’m looking to do is not going to pay well, and so I must rely on God to find the best way to support my family.  Also the legal profession provides the dangerous lures of self-reliance, pride, greed, and any number of other pitfalls to pull me away from Christ and my family. After all that, though, I think that the story God wants for my life involves those conflicts and dangers and victories.   It probably is no small coincidence that I have been thinking about and praying about this for a while and trying to figure out if it is right, and then I read your book, feel called to a better story, and this idea keeps coming to my mind the whole time I’m reading (it also doesn’t hurt that Bob is a lawyer who works to right wrongs in 3rd world countries, and that he coincidentally mentored one of my best friends while he (Andy) was in college and even got him (again, Andy) excited about this line of work.  Whew, that’s a sidebar!)

Finally, what I think is most important, I want to be the kind of husband and father that a reader would root for, respect and that provides the love and time and care that my wife and daughters deserve.  I don’t think anyone roots for the crappy parent in a movie or novel, and we all get behind those parents who give sacrificially, and really are the parents we want to be.  I figure, why don’t I start being the parent I want to be, and stop thinking about not being the parent I want to be.  To do this,  I need to get past the laziness and sloth that keeps me sitting at home and doing nothing.  I want to take my wife and daughters on fun, cheap, memorable dates and I want us to treasure our time together and the memories that it creates.  This will take great creativity and willpower as I am not normally the type to figure out, plan and enact memorable dates and family outings.  We’re trying for it, and as you say, Don, it’s better for us to try these things and fail gloriously than to do nothing at all.  So thanks again, Don.  You may have been my inciting incident, and my life might never look the same, and I might be the child of God, man, husband, and father that I dream of being, all because you wouldn’t let up on this story business.

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