I often look back at times that hold some of the greatest memories for me and they happen to also often be times that were jumbled with fear or risk. For example, when our second child was born in the middle of graduate school for my husband and no paid maternity leave for myself; we were fearful of how we would make it financially. Looking back now, we can tell great stories of frugalness and generosity from others. We learned during that time that God provides when we trust in Him. Or another moment when our family felt led to move to Colorado with no guarantees of work for my husband and a huge career change for myself, with a salary that was far less than what I was used to. Looking back, the risk was high, but the change brought our family closer and made our marriage stronger.
In Part Three of Donald Miller’s book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Miller explores the risk, and sometimes the pain, of creating a good story. Here are take-aways worth pondering:
“The character has to jump into the story, into the discomfort and the fear, otherwise the story will never happen.” [p. 105]
We often are more content to live in a place of complacency than one we fear or risk. Miller reveals throughout Part Three that the greatest stories are those where the character has to work to make it happen—and sometimes that path has pain and fear along it. Or sometimes we stay in a story that is bad because we long to be a story—even if it’s not a good one. Stepping out in faith—even when it’s risky or scary—can be the beginning of the story we were meant to live.
“There is a force in the world that doesn’t want us to live good stories. It doesn’t want us to face our issues, to face our fear and bring something beautiful into the world.” [p. 115, 116]
There is a resistance in our world, a dark side that doesn’t want others to see the beautiful things found in the stories that God wants us to live. Miller reminds us that we need to have courage to live our stories. In order to live good stories, we need to overcome the forces that work to defeat, stifle, and derail us.
“I asked Bob what was the key to living such a great story, and Bob seemed uncomfortable with the idea he was anything special. But he wanted to answer my question, so he thought about it and said he didn’t think we should be afraid to embrace whimsy. I asked him what he meant by whimsy, and he struggled to define it. He said it’s that nagging idea that life could be magical; it could be special if we were only willing to take a few risks.” [p. 167]
Life can be like a long road trip—hum-drum and mediocre if all we do is look at the long black pavement ahead of us. We get to our destination, but never experience anything “whimsical” along the way. It may be risky to go off-road, to travel on the dirt for a bit. But it’s there that we see the glorious waterfall, the peaceful meadow, or the beautifully painted sunset. Sometimes we need to get out of our comfort zone, and find the whimsical side of life to experience the magic in our stories.
Think On This
What discomfort or fear is holding you back from living your story? Why is it sometimes easier to live in a place of comfort—even if it’s not a good place for us to be living? In what areas of life do you need to live more courageously? How can you better embrace “whimsy” in order to live a great story?