Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What Makes a Great Life is What Makes a Great Story. (ItalyPresentation Pt 2)

Recently, I wrote here parts of the speech I delivered at the EMERGENCE Women's Conference in Bari, Italy. (Yep, I'm an international speaker! BAM! I never, ever saw that coming!)

I confessed in my presentation that after fearing an onset of early dementia, I discovered that I wasn't loosing my memories - I just wasn't really making any. Sure life was good. But deep in my heart I felt something was off. Like I was missing something.
I was in such a disoriented state - I knew I couldn't move forward until I understood why.
So I mustered up every ounce of bravery I could manage and 
I dared myself to take a good long, hard, internal look at myself, my life, and what it is I'm doing with all of it. 

After some serious soul searching, lots of journaling and fist pumping towards the heaven, I learned that my life - my Tribe, my little town, my job ... all of it deserved more intentionality than I was giving it. I was trying so hard to 'just make it through today until the real life started' that I was missing the opportunity to actually participate in my own living. I wanted to stop letting my life happen to me and start living my own life. 

What I found with living intentionally was that life becomes more meaningful and certainly, more memorable. 

But first I had to let go of my old way of thinking.
When I did that the tension that I lived with, struggling to be happy with what I had  vs. feeling guilty for longing for more, was relieved.
No longer did the my mental pendulum swing:
Be grateful. Long for more. Stop being selfish. You're meant for better. Why are you so ungrateful? What about my dreams? How can I be great in this little place? Didn't God want me to be great? Do great? Didn't I have dreams? 

I didn't have to flip and flop in my own head anymore. No longer did I conveniently apply bible versus to twist God's arm into giving me what I wanted. I stopped my perpeual waiting on God to show up and 'do me a solid'.

(insert convenient quote)

That alone may have been the wisest thing I've ever done because turns out God's less interested in pulling clutch favors for me. 

After all this? After I was done being mad at Him for not doing want I wanted (in hindsight this sounds so childish) I was exhausted.

So I took a break.
I stopped fighting Him.
I stopped despising all of it and I jumped off the "poor me" track and found something new; story.

A book, in fact.

I read A Million Miles by Don Miller.
And while my life's memoir wasn't being turned into a movie like his, (Blue Like Jazz), I imagined what if it was. What if the story of my life was written on the pages of a book? Or appeared on a big screen? (Julia Roberts should totally play me!). What kind of story would it be?
A romance?
Would I be a victim?
Or a heroine?

So I began to look.
Look closely at the landscape of my life and it was amazing.
It was as if I had been given new eyes.
I began to notice story elements present in my own life.
I could see that the stage had been set:
I lived here.
The characters had been chosen:
My friends and family.
The plot was being played out:
Family of seven resigns church planting project of 12 years to fulfill their dream of missions only to fall flat and broke.

Now what?

I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that what I longed for, what makes a great life are also the same elements found in a great story.

So? I began to live everyday as if my life was a story.
I choose to be the character I wanted my story to have.
And when I didn't know what to do I asked myself, "If I was reading this book, what would I want myself to do? Quit? Or Press on?"

My life became a page turner in my own head.

And suddenly stuff wasn't happening to me as much as I was happening to my life. 
And when I believed that, suddenly my life wasn't out of my control. Nor was it meaningless. It was alive. It was real. 
This was happening. 
Now what?
What should I do?
What can I do today?

If I lived like that? Well, I just knew that my life - my story - would have the meaning I longed for and would give God the glory He deserved.

Stories, are so, so important. 
I know because we tell stories all the time: 
We tell our girlfriends stories over mugs of coffee.
We tell our families our stories about what happened in our day.
We tell God stories when we pray.
We entertain ourselves with stories. That's all movies and television shows are, you know?
Our lives our filled with stories everywhere we go.

Because I decided to live my life fully alive, and because I understand my life to be like a story, I am compelled to write about what that means for me. And maybe that will help you find something in your life that means something to you.

That's why this blog is called To Write a Better Story. Everything I do, write & live out comes from my core belief that my life is like a story. And I want it to be a great one. One that you, my friends and readers, enjoy.

The decision to live my life with intention and purpose, to live my life like a great story unfolding every new day led me to study story elements. Something long overdue for a gal who writes - and what I learned transformed me.

In coming days I'll share that with you.

Thanks for reading today. I hope and pray that you are blessed. Embracing your life - whatever it looks like. Be brave. Face the day. Influence your own life. May you write your own better story!

Today is where your book begins. The rest is still unwritten!

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