Friday, July 15, 2011

Life as a Story

I have always been fascinated by stories. As a small child, I have fond memories of my mom reading me bedtime stories, then hiding under my covers with a flashlight in attempt to continue reading or journal and write my own.

My sister, Catherine, and I lived in a world of fantasy stories created by forts and creeks outside, dramatic dramas in full apparel (growing up in the theatre one would expect no less) and a quite impressive barbie land creation put together with whatever happened to be around. Jenga blocks became garden fences, washcloths became high-class canopies but that was not the most important part, the most important part was the story. Which character would do something unexpected and leave the mansion for the farm because of a forbidden romance or the famous gymnast would break her leg and everything suddenly when awry.

As I grew older, barbies became too juvenile and I spent more time with my nose buried in books. I pictured myself like Belle in "Beauty and the Beast," one of my all time favourite stories, in the opening scene reading with village chaos surrounding her. Unfortunately, looking back, I imagine wandering down the school hall with book in hand, oblivious to world, probably appeared much less attractive than my heroin.

Somewhere along the line I had the epiphany that my life in itself was a story. I didn't have to rely on stories already written or even fictional stories I created, everyday I lived, whether I realized it or not, my decisions, my thoughts, the places I went and the people I met were all evolving elements in my story. Then the realization that my story in combination with everyone else's individual story is divinely intertwined to make up life.

People talk about life as a story. It is not uncommon to hear someone say they are "turning a new page" or "entering a new chapter" of their life. However, the thought that each persons day to day actions have the potential to create a fascinating story or a dreadfully uneventful one in the end, seemed a novel and liberating feeling to me. So I made a decision I wanted my life to be a story worth reading.

One of my favorite songs is called "The Story" by Brandi Carlile. Not only is it a great song to belt in the car with your girl friends, it really showcases its not just the happy ending that make up a good story its the sweat and tears it took to get there.

Another encouraging find was reading Donald Miller's book "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years." I highly recommend it to anyone on the quest to fulfilling this ideal. It emphasizes not only the idea of life as a story but that thats how God intended it to be, not shoved in a box of limitation but full of risk, adventure and romance!

I read this book at the time I was trying to decide whether or not I wanted to take the risk to complete my Master's degree in Sydney. It was just the encouragement I needed to take the leap into the unexpected. I try to remind myself when life doesn't seem to go quite as planned: at least it will make a good story!

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