Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"The story takes care of the rest..."

I had to stop reading and get these words out in front of me.

I just started to read Donald Miller's A Million Miles in a Thousand Years a few days ago, and I'm already halfway through it. If I'd really wanted to, I could have finished it by now. I just like to read a little more slowly, almost as if to savor the words, when I really like a book. His words are an easy read, and mostly because he's simply telling a story about telling your story. He's telling his story and figuring out how to live his story. Have I said story enough?

I had to stop and think about my life for a moment when I read these words:
"...the story is what changes the character, not the inciting incident."
"The inciting incident is how you get them to do something," Ben said. "It's the doorway through which they can't return, you know. The story takes care of the rest."

"Robert McKee says 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 be 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."
I'm still processing how I'm living out my story, or God's story, really. Half the time I'm not sure how I'm making the choices I'm making, sometimes aware, sometimes unaware, and I'm probably not seeking the great Writer's vision for the story nearly enough. I can't imagine His frustration with us, His characters, as we go our own ways and take the plot wherever we wish.

In the past year, however, He wrote into my story an inciting incident that has clearly changed the story for me. Maybe a series of inciting incidents... (I must first clarify that Miller's filmwriting friends define this "inciting incident" as some kind of "explosion" in the character's life.) These incidents in my own life may not have been a major explosion, but they were small enough contributors to the fire--emotional breakdowns, conversations that left me in tears, a feeling of being unfulfilled, ungodly discontentment, and very obviously doors that closed and opened at just the right times. Each of these was its own match that lit the fire of urgency in me to do something.

My life had reached a plateau, in a way. I was ready for a next step, and now looking back, these incidents led me to a choice: to move my entire life, all by myself, to Louisville. So I did it. It was my "doorway through which I couldn't return." I'm so unbelievably thankful I walked through that doorway.

My life, the story, God's story, is taking shape more and more each day. I'm so much more content. Circumstances are no longer stealing my joy. I love life. And while it is never perfect, I'm fulfilled by His promises and a community that is ever-growing me in my walk with Him. Never before had I imagined I'd be where I am...and I'm thankful.

I look forward to living out how this story is written. I hope to be a participatory character rather than one who sits around doing nothing. I've jumped into discomfort, into newness, into fear. And I've found that it's a good place. So I think I'll keep jumping in.