I recently read this book by author Donald Miller, called something like a million miles in a thousand steps? Or a million steps in a thousand years? Or maybe it's a million miles in a thousand years...if you really want to know that badly you can google it. I read one of his other books called Blue like Jazz (or was it red like country....haha, just kidding.) I really liked Blue like Jazz because it gave a different view of God than I have. I pretty much have been terrified of God my whole life. Like not in a biblical *fearful* way, but more in a panic attack, can't breathe kind of way. I like reading books that show a different side to Christianity, a way that separates from *religion* and makes it a less scary, more humanity driven way of life.
In this latest book, Donald Miller talks about living a better story. He's learning how to build a character for a movie/book and he wonders, "Why can't I apply this to my own life and build a better story for myself?" Now, I'm not going to lie. I did think the picture of him on the back of the book wasn't so bad. I also noticed he hails from Portland, which isn't far from me. I noticed he's only a few years older than me and I also noticed he was single. I thought of how convenient it would be to fall in love and marry someone who shares your last name. Think of all the time it would save changing all your bank accounts and drivers licence and passport and credit cards (if you were allowed to have one...). So, I was tempted to write a letter to this man, telling how his book really made me think, blah, blah, blah.
Side note: this is my thing, lately...writing letters. In the movie Stuart Little, every time the Little's get bothered by something, one says to the other, "Oh dear, we must write a letter." This is what I say now, too...only to myself because there is no one else to write the letter with. Sigh.
I googled Donald Miller and was led to his blog. Which is not really a blog. It's more of a website. I think I was expecting everything to be a little more low key. But it seems as though, since finding a better story, everything for Mr. Donald Miller has become a whole lot well, bigger. I mean the guy has had at least two best sellers. But what I liked about his books was that he was kinda laid back, lazy, and really wanted a better story. I'm the same way. I really want to change the world, but in a laid back kind of way. I'm not about to protest on capitol hill or participate in a hunger strike. I'm more about volunteering at a school and maybe becoming a Big Sister...change the world laid back style. So, I was a little shocked when I found out that Donald Miller has basically created a franchise around "building your story".
Now, I'm not judging. And I'm certainly not saying it's a bad thing. I'm just surprised. I expected everything to be a little more subtle, I guess. I expected it to be a small town, hand written thank you's, taking the bus everywhere revolution. I guess everyone is looking for a better story. Not just me. I mean, it was an national best seller. Why wouldn't conventions be a natural progression from that? How many other motivational speakers are out there? How many of them came from lying on their couch in sweats, eating tuna from a can? What better way to sell a story than to be the product of an amazing one?
Anyways, needless to say, I will not be writing a letter about how this book really made me think about my life and how I could make it a better story. It would only get thrown in a pile with a thousand other letters, and then given a generic letter back. The wedding is also off, sadly. Thank goodness I don't have to change my name back. What a hassle that would be.
Fast forward to a conversation with a friend of mine who believes that God is in ultimate control of our lives. Everything in predestined. Our fate is sealed. We on a road we may not know, but it has been written by God and nothing we do will change it. We can only submit to it and follow the plan.
Wow. More food for thought.
I found myself thinking, if this is the case, then what is the point of getting off the couch and changing out of my sweat pants. It's already been written, it's already known that this is what I do. If my story has already been written, I can't rewrite it. It totally blows my mind. So God creates billions of people, creates a story for each person, then watches them act out that story? Is this what life is? Is this supposed to give me comfort?
What if my life story is to lose my job, live on the street and freeze to death at 40? That's my story. Nothing I do will change the fact that it has been predestined for me to live out that fate. I could stock pile money, I could find a great stable job, and this would still be my demise. I cannot wrap my head around it. My story could be that I never, ever get married so no matter how much I pray for it or yearn for it or even if I fall in love, if it is written that I will not get married, I won't. No matter how many signs point otherwise. All these months I've been thinking I'm not doing anything productive with my life, basically going through a midlife crisis, when this is exactly where the story is...a single mother, sitting at a desk in a post office, renting a house and living just within my means.
What is the point of life if it's already planned out for me? If this is what I believe, that there is a God and that I am created in his image, and I do believe it, then what is the point? Believing in a higher power is supposed to give your life meaning, but I just feel like I've hit a brick wall. I could set out to cure cancer, but if it's already known that I won't...what's the bother in even trying? Imagine the frustration at having an over-achieving personality, but under achieving at everything. Gah!
On the other hand, what is the point of life if there is nothing after this? If everything we've done on earth is all we have and then we die and our souls die along with our bodies and then, boom, that's it. We're dust. We're forgotten in a generation - or two if we're really lucky or really amazing. What's the point if my story has no direction at all, does that make everything possible? Or nothing possible?
I'm totally blowing my own mind right now. I should be smoking pot or something. Only of course I wouldn't, because it's illegal, and all...
Ideas? Theories? What belief gets you through the day???