I read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, How I Learned to Live a Better Story by Donald Miller when we flew out for Carmen’s wedding. After getting over MIller’s somewhat annoying bloggish writing style, I really enjoyed the book. He talked a lot about the aspects of a good story and how the same pieces that apply to a good novel or movie also apply to living a good story.
The main theme was that in every good story there has to be conflict. It is not an option. There has to be some inciting event that the main character must work through or overcome.
“humans naturally seek comfort and stability. Without an inciting incident that disrupts their comfort, they won’t enter into a story. They have to get fired from their job or forced to sign up for a marathon. A ring has to be purchased. A home has to be sold. The character has to jump into the story, into the discomfort and the fear, otherwise the story will never happen.”
It was a timely book and as I watched Carmen and Finley approach their wedding day, I couldn’t help but smile at what a great story they were living. They had personally overcome difficulties and God had brought them together at just the right moment for their friendship to turn into marriage.
I was pondering my little family’s story. I was feeling a bit boring. (I know, because obviously pursuing an international adoption is a boring life event). It’s just our adoption is at a standstill and other than that, life felt overly predictable.
While we were visiting with people that wedding week, the comment kept being made that we are such a great family. I couldn’t help but think that our life had become a bit too cookie cutter for my taste. I mean look at us.
We are the poster family for the American Dream. Two kids. One girl. One boy.
Well God sure has a sense of humor because we didn’t have to wait long for our ‘inciting’ event.
We came home from the wedding feeling stressed and overwhelmed with what needed to be done to close on our new house and prepare our townhome for renters. We had just returned from buying our appliances for the new place when James decided to quick run to the clinic to have something checked. Neither of us where really concerned, so it didn’t seem like a big deal. In fact, while he was at the doctor I called my mom and cried about how frustrated I was with the lack of adoption progress. Then he came home and said the doctor mentioned it could be one of three options. He listed them off, but again, neither of us were concerned.
Later that day the doctor called and when James got off the phone he told me the doctor said it was option three. I said, ‘uhm, remind me what option three was?’
One word. So much emotion.
“The more difficult the event, the better the story. The reason the story is better when the ambition is difficult, is because there is more risk and more risk makes the story question more interesting.”
So, enter doctors appointments, blood draws, surgery, scans, follow-up appointments, and more scans/blood draws. Oh, and a move. November was a tad busy.
“I think this is when most people give up on their stories. They come out of college wanting to change the world, wanting to get married, wanting to have kids. But they get into the middle and discover it was harder than they thought…They go looking for an easier story.”
“It’s conflict that changes a person. Part of me wonders if stories aren’t being stolen by the easy life”
This wasn’t at all what we were expecting for this fall. I felt completely unprepared to handle cancer and I am probably the worse wife ever to have a sick husband. I went into survival mode. I just kept repeating, “It’s going to be fine.” On top of being worried about my husband’s health, I also had a fear about what this would mean for our adoption.
“People love to have lived a great story, but few people like the work it takes to make it happen. But joy costs pain.”
Praise be to God! We are now on the other side of this ‘conflict.’. James is recovering. Our adoption goes on (or stalls on) as usual. We are fully moved and settling into our new home. There will continue to be some doctor visits/blood draws/scans, but we are moving on in confidence of full health.
Today is our eight year wedding anniversary.
Eight years ago we stood in front of a church and promised to love one another no matter the circumstances. There has been a lot of normal ups and downs in our marriage, but the past month tested us like none other.
“It’s interesting that in the bible, in the book of Ecclesiastes, the only practical advice given about living a meaningful life is to find a job you like, enjoy your marriage, and obey God. It’s as though God is saying, “Write a good story, take somebody with you, and let me help.”
Today I am ever so thankful to be walking this life alongside my husband. Our story is a good one. It has had conflict. It has had inciting events. It has had love and friendship and humor and most importantly, we have shared a love for God. We believe God will continue to write our family’s story, to be a good story… not just an easy life.
And to my husband - thanks for taking me with you. My life story is better because you are in it. Thanks for buying the ring, taking the leap, and inviting me on the ride. I love you more today than ever!
All quotes from A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.