What if Your Life Could be More Engaging Than Television?

Donald Miller

Ask yourself before your next major decision “If I were a character in a story, what decision would make the story more interesting?”

You’ll be surprised at how differently you feel about the decision. You’ll weigh safety over excitement, risk over comfort. You’ll likely decide to love people more, quit your job, bring home roses, leap off the cliff into the water and so on. Great characters in exciting stories don’t sit around on the couch playing it safe. They get up, move, try, fail and risk it all again.

Living a great story costs something. People who live great stories know failure isn’t a judgment, it’s an education.

In America, the stories we are living are boring. And people are suffering the emotional consequences of the American dream. They hate their lives. We live vicariously through television shows and gossip magazines because our lives are insufferably meaningless.

Whatever will work in a story will work in life, too. After all, we are each living a story. If our story is boring, it’s because we’ve chosen a safe route.

What if your life could be as inspiring and as interesting as the shows we watch on television?

So, today, ask yourself “If I were a character in a story, what could I do right now to make my story interesting?”

And then do it. Why? Because you are a character in a story. You always have been.

The American dream got hijacked. It’s time to take it back. Lets turn off the television and start living a better story today.

 

*At Storyline, we’re fighting to live lives more interesting than television. We are creating a community of people who are planning and executing great stories. We will teach you the framework, but the story is all yours. Not only this, but we’ll introduce you to real-life people who are taking chances and inspiring others with their lives. Join us.

 


Donald Miller

Donald Miller

Donald Miller is all about story. He helps people live a better story at creatingyourlifeplan.com and grow their business at storybrand.com. Follow Don on Twitter (@donaldmiller). To read more of his posts on the Storyline Blog, click here.

  • Gulleiv

    “The American dream got hijacked. It’s time to take it back. Lets turn off the television and start living a better story today” – Well spoken Don, hurrah!

  • dawn stenberg

    The best reality I encountered was the realization that Jesus Christ didn’t call me to comfort. I have never harboured a regret over the risk of it. Comfort isn’t a commodity to be held. It has it’s own economics. Your comfort level grows when you decidedly make choices against it. I was never so good at mathematics. I can only tell you that though it seems to not add correctly, it works quite nicely for me. I also testify that you ought to take the risk of comfort over the vain hoarding of it.

  • Cynthia Selden

    This post is screaming at me. I can’t wait until Nashville. I just finished reading BOB Goff’s book (by the way what a great book, Its inpspiring and makes you uncomfortable all at once- Took me a whole 2 days to read it. I couldn’t put it down and now I can’t stop thinking about its message- although I should stop thinking and start doing). Even my pastor’s sermon on Sunday was along these lines. Gee, think God is trying to tell me something? So thanks for your part in all of this. Once again can’t wait until Nashville and certainly can’t wait for my better story. God Bless.

  • Brittany

    So true. Insightful and timely.

  • AC

    Hmmm… In my story of life right now, my husband and I are in a waiting pattern of him trying to finish school (2+ more years!), and me working until he does. We want to have kids, but we really want to wait until he finishes so that I can stay home with the baby. If my life were a movie, we would say “don’t wait” and we’d just go ahead and try to get pregnant. (I’m already pushing 30….) But, then does the movie take the turn of “now the husband has to drop out of school and the family struggles for the rest of their lives…” or does it take the turn of “It will all work out and God will provide a way for the wife to stay home and the husband to finish school AND we can pay our bills…” I don’t know. It would be exciting, but the comfort and safety in trying to do it all in the right order somehow controls me. Not sure if that’s the wise thing to do. It’s certainly the more boring plot line.

    • http://searchwithallyourheart.blogspot.com shellybell

      Waiting is one of the toughest parts in life.

      You look at the people you most admire, who have incredible character, and have lived lives of depth, I will guaratee you they would say waiting was/is part of their story.

      I know that being patient and waiting is something God is getting me to do, and it is one of the most character building exercises I have ever done.

      Remember, Americans are an “Instant” type of people. I want it now! We aren’t a people who wait or are willing to wait.

      I would encourage you to not confuse waiting with whether or not you are living a great story.
      (My 2 cents.)

      God is RARELY an instant God…Abraham and Sara waited, Esther waited, Ruth waited, Jesus waited, Paul waited, etc… :)

      • http://www.facebook.com/clintjames77 Clint James

        I agree with Shellybell 100%! I don’t think Donald is encouraging irresponsibility. I think he is challenging people to allow themselves to dream again & to pursue those dreams… Responsibly. Prayerfully. Taking risks doesn’t mean wreckless abandon. It just means you understand the pros/cons & are willing to live & learn from the potential failure if things don’t work according to plan.

        Also, pushing 30 is still VERY young & you have plenty of time to start your family. I’m getting married in 18 days (Woo Hoo!!) and I just turned 35 and kids are definitely in our plans. Whatever you choose, have fun doing it!

      • http://searchwithallyourheart.blogspot.com shellybell

        You know what God has taught me as well…LIVE while you wait. I travel, create adventures, and dig deeper in relationships, challenge myself, and work on other avenues of my life…time flies no matter what, so use the time you have, especially when a certain amount of freedom is there that will disappear when children come along.

        Good luck!!

        • http://www.kristamournet.net Krista

          It’s interesting how waiting can be confused sometimes with doing nothing–I don’t hear you saying that, Shellybell; but anytime someone mentions waiting, there is an unspoken assumption that this also means sitting around, flipping channels on the remote.

          I’m in the midst of a waiting time; I’m taking a gamble on a vocational dream, and there is inevitable lag time between the beginning of the leap and the landing. I’m not sure if it’s going to pan out.

          I’m also teaching a university course on the Bible; and while I enjoy it, I’ve had very little time to focus in on my particular research interest. So rather than be mad about it and flip on the TV, I decided to design a course around what I want to research. I’m in the midst of presenting it to my local seminary, and they are showing interest. I think it may fly, although I’m not sure yet. If it does, it will be a heck of a lot of fun!

          So I’m waiting, but I’m not sitting around. I think that’s what Don is getting at here. Some things take time–but in the meantime, our stories are still being written. We can add color, light and music as we go.

      • http://alibrarystory.blogspot.com Rachel

        Thanks for this, Shellybell. I totally agree! We can be waiting or simply living our lives but still tell a great story by loving and serving others. I think we have to be careful how we define ‘living a great story’ and not make it about something that is happening right now.

        As someone who took a risk and moved to Uganda in 2010 and is now about to face the transition back to the US, it’s hard not to think that I’m giving up the ‘better’ story by going back. It seems so opposite this ‘tell a good story’ mentality. But in many ways (for me, for various reasons) the bigger risk now is to move back to the US.

        Anyway thanks for the reminder that sometimes waiting and perseverance are also part of a great story…I think it’s so true. We get caught up in wanting to tell a great story NOW that we forget we are telling a story every day, in all the decisions we make.

      • AC

        Wow, thank you so much for all of your responses! This really is helping me to calm my heart today as waiting does feel hard, like I’m not living the risk like I should be. Waiting can be so hard!

        Clint – congratulations on upcoming nuptials! We’re coming up soon on our year anniversary, and it’s been such a blessing.

        I like what Rachel said about Americans – we want an adventure NOW and maybe waiting is okay. I appreciate all of yall’s replies!

    • http://www.plumfieldlearning.com Lori Ventola

      If your husband is feeling the same way (not wanting to wait), there’s no reason not to discuss the riskier path. If you were 20, I might say something different. But I’m with the others — waiting is not doing nothing. And what else can you be doing with these 2+ years while you wait? Can you bless some other kids, some other way? Just brainstorming. Lots of good stories to be lived!

  • http://rise365.com Michael Good

    Donald, I love this challenge.

    You’re calling us out on being lazy bums too scared to get up off the freaking sofa and brush off the potato chips crumbs.

  • Andrew

    I’m glad you brought up the deceit contained in the current version of “The American Dream”. You’re absolutely right: it has ruined so many lives.

  • http://roaringout.wordpress.com Michelle

    “Living a great story costs something. People who live great stories know failure isn’t a judgment, it’s an education.” Thank you for this, Don. I graduated with an MFA in Poetry last year and have been submitting my work. I just received another rejection yesterday, which got me wondering if I really have what it takes. Maybe I’m just too young. In a world where everything is hyper-competitive, maybe I’m just not good enough to stand out. And then I remembered that nothing good was ever accomplished with that kind of attitude.

    There are two more poetry manuscript contests that I had decided I wasn’t going to submit to last week. I will be sending my manuscript to both contests this week. Even if I get two more rejections to add to the pile, at least I tried and made myself available. In the end, I want to be able to say that I risked because, like you say, that’s what makes for a great story.

    • http://searchwithallyourheart.blogspot.com shellybell

      “Suffering produces PERSEVERANCE, and perseverance produces character, and character produces hope.”

      Persevere! Perseverance is what it takes!

      You can do it!

      • http://roaringout.wordpress.com Michelle

        Thanks so much for the encouragement. ..I really appreciate it, Shellybell!

  • http://lifeimmeasurable.blogspot.com Jennifer Woodward

    Wow. Thank you for the reminder.

  • Chris

    This may have just been the tipping point of me quitting my job. The clouds are parting and the starts are aligning. I see the light

  • Josh

    Hey Don,

    Just wanted to congratulate you on Blue Like Jazz: The Movie. I saw it last weekend and was absolutely blown away. The story and characterization were fantastic, and really made me reflect on my own life. Thanks for doing all that you do. Looking forward to meeting you at the Storyline Conference in Nashville.

    Oh, and I thoroughly appreciate the Garden State photos in this post. Nice work.

  • Ashley

    So… Play near radioactive waste sites and get superpowers! On it!

  • http://brandonweldy.com Brandon Weldy

    I was just thinking about this yesterday! I thought about how sometimes I get more excited and emotionally involved in the lives of characters on TV than I do in my own life or for the people around me. That made me really sad. I began to think about what I can do differently.

    I have been used in the past. People would come to me and dump their problems on me and I let them do it for years. I would become emotionally drained because so many people were coming to me and I had no boundaries. Then I began to set up boundaries but those boundaries became walls. I would listen to people but no longer invest. When they cried, I stared blankly. When they laughed I mustered up a laugh.

    It was easier to invest in characters on TV because they don’t require anything of me, but it is so much less fulfilling!

  • http://erinsartsadventures.blogspot.com Erin

    Great post, Don! What a great reminder that we have an opportunity for a more engaging life with each decision we make! Thanks!

  • http://www.earthbridgehomes.com James in StumpJazz

    Don,

    I like what you are saying here. It’s one of the most disappointing actions I see in my friends lives. They choose to ALWAYS play it safe. Every action, every charity is always calculated out and then they dis-engage from the developing story. My friends have stood at the door step of great stories countless times, and I don’t remember one of them! Why? — because they did nothing at the door step.

    Now the flip side of risk, safety, no income when a risk, idea, and chasing a moment goes wrong . . . . I hope you speak or at least cover the downside of that. That is the trade.

    It is hard for people to stand on the edge of the unknown. It’s hard to make the trade for the unknown. So few actually do it that we struggle to find examples in our social circles to use as a guide or inspirations.

    I think people wanting this life need to remember that living this life is equivalent to hitting the Oregon Trail back when it first opened. Its jumping aboard a ship in Ireland and heading for the new world. If you think you would have taken those kinds of actions back in the 18th and 19th century then its basically the same thing.

    My life is full of risk reward scenes. I have pushed my young body to its risk limits and my middle age body to its risk limits and saved nothing for the storage unit. I spent out my life so far and cannot imagine squeezing any extra risk out of it if I had to do it over.

  • http://marriageyouneverwanted.com Ben

    Don Miller at his finest! I love the way you challenge me.

  • Kara

    The American Dream…whose idea was that anyway? Great insight. I appreciate you putting it on the table.

  • Nate

    Should I stop reading blogs, too?

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  • http://danifankhauser.com Dani

    In a world where kids are eating hand sanitizer to get drunk while women in the Middle East are having their genitals cut off, Don is right on … we are bored. My response: http://www.danifankhauser.com/2012/04/24/the-curse-of-the-american-dream/

  • http://www.nomadruss.com Russ

    It is.

  • clia

    Hey Don,

    thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. You’ve inspired me many times!

    I would be glad if I could attend at Storyline – but unfortunately I live in Europe… :( We also need to live better stories!
    It would be great, if you could do do such a conference here too, put a videostream on the internet or bring out a book … sorry, just dreaming big :)

    All the best and God bless you so much!!!

  • http://www.onwardhoe.com Beth

    I want to love this because I love adventure and want my life to be interesting, but it just seems a little too simplistic, which makes it very frustrating. Do you know how many lives I’d have to have to make all the interesting decisions I’d like to make?

    Plus (or perhaps contrarily), is the point of life to make it interesting? As a person who puts a LOT of importance on living an interesting life, I can tell you that it gets to a point where the weight of those decisions is crushing because you feel enslaved to the adventure itself and the need to make the “right” decision for optimum interestingness. I know this is a good challenge for a lot people, but for me, it just feeds an idol.

    How do we make our lives worthwhile and enjoyable without bowing down completely to the idol of adventure or that of having other people accept/respect/be inspired by us? Where is God in these decisions? Where is the freedom of Christ?

    These are my honest questions. I’m not asking them to prove a point or bash you in any way (I’ve had an author crush on you for too long). This is just something I’m really wrestling with right now.

    • Don

      Beth,

      it seems to me your comment is dealing in extremes. We don’t have to make ALL the exciting decisions, and we don’t have to BOW DOWN to adventure. It’s not that heavy, really.

      one of the things all writers have to do is edit. We have to throw soooo much stuff away to make a story work. i think that’s true in life, and may counterbalance some of your frustrations with the blog. The idea is that there is a lot of power in NOT doing things, too. To decide, move forward and so on, but within a focus.

      THANKS for commenting!!! Come out to storyline if you ever get a chance. would love to have you.

      • http://www.onwardhoe.com Beth

        Thanks. That was really helpful. Like REALLY. And believe me, if there were a Storyline near me, I would totally be there.

      • http://www.onwardhoe.com Beth

        P.S. Can you talk me down from every crazy ledge with writing metaphors?

    • http://searchwithallyourheart.blogspot.com shellybell

      Beth, for a long while, I was bothered or frustrated or confused by some of this as well. I think I came from the opposite side though of, “Life isn’t always an adventure, sometimes it sucks and you have to make it through that…” kind of mentality.

      But once I got my eyes off of the story I was writing and focused more on ME as the CHARACTER and what kind of character I wanted to be inside the story, then the story seemed to fall into place. Somehow, adventures found me WAY more than I had to go create them or be enslaved to create them.

      My freedom came more from becoming a great character, because in my opinion, that is all I have control over…who I am, how I react, what I choose, etc…

      So often, our story is somewhat written for us; Cancer, death, divorce, but WHO I AM in that story can change everything for me and those around me.

      When I get bogged down by writing my story, I step back and remember that I don’t want to manufacture an inauthentic setting or climax. I want to go where a great character would go or make the decision a person of character would make.

      It was a game changer for me.

      I even make my bed now…but you would have to be a long time follower of the blog to get that.

      I hope that makes a bit of sense to you…not that you agree, but I wanted to throw that out there from someone who has struggled with a bit of this.

      • http://searchwithallyourheart.blogspot.com shellybell

        Oh, and I highly recommend going to the Storyline Conference Beth. I went to his original one, and I will be at Nashville in a couple of weeks.
        I’m going because that’s where a great character would go, and that’s what a great character would do!! ;)
        Plus, it’s an excuse to play hookie from work and eat some yummy food!

        • http://www.onwardhoe.com Beth

          Yeah, this whole “doing vs. becoming” thing has been coming up in my life a lot lately, and I really need to figure out how to process it. It’s hard for me to take in the idea of *becoming* a great character because part of that is *doing* what a great character would do. I guess there’s no separating them, which is fine, but as an English teacher, I like clear definitions (English) and instructions (teacher), and I feel like this is one of those times when nobody else’s explanations are going to make any sense to me; I have to work it out for myself.

          I have to figure out what kind of character I want to be.

          Storyline would probably help me a lot, but there’s no way I can make it this time around. Maybe next time.

          Thanks for responding. I’m working through some pretty big stuff right now, and it’s not easy, but it’s good and helpful to get some perspective from complete strangers.

          • http://searchwithallyourheart.blogspot.com shellybell

            I’m a teacher too Beth! I’m all about the “just tell me what to do and I will do it!” But you are right…it’s a process. A process that has takes time.

            I’m sorry you are going through some rough stuff, but your character shall grow leaps and bounds through it…aren’t you thankful for that. ;)

            May God’s grace envelope you tonight and bring you a peace about walking each day right where you are at.

        • http://www.davidamoore.com David Moore

          Shellybell,
          I guess I’ll be seeing you in Nashville this weekend. This is your second one? You’ve got your “pro” card. This is my rookie trip.
          Take care,
          David

  • Anna

    Reading this confirmed some things for me. Thank you.

  • http://theamericandreamfailed.blogspot.com/ Garrett

    Very true about the American Dream – it is really America’s last taboo subject. Many people are not sure they want to discuss it and the failure of it. I do:

    The
    American Dream Failed –
    And YOU Can Too!
    http://theamericandreamfailed.blogspot.com/

  • Peter

    Don,

    I have just finished and thoroughly enjoyed reading, A Million Miles.

    I thought I would write and thank you for the book and I appreciate the challenge and reflection that it has brought into my life. The question of whether I am living the kind of story I would want to read, or leave as a legacy for that matter, has made me make some changes and intentionally chose actions that are helping me create a better story for my life. I have also brought all my family copies of the book (with my favourite passages underlined) and together our stories are changing! Many say that my life has been a rip-roaring yarn so far, but I believe there are many more exciting chapters ahead.

    But there is also bigger reason I wanted to write and that is about the cause of mentoring and issue of a fatherless society. I work for a Christian charity where I am based in Kiev, Ukraine (although I live in England which makes for an interesting commute!) Since 2005 we have been working with children at risk and in particular with children in state orphanages and I started a mentoring project called One Hope (http://onehope.com.ua/eng/) where we recruit Christian parents, train them and they work alongside our social workers mentoring now over 300 children. We are now developing, and have been for the last 3 years, the process of working with churches to recruit and develop mentors, so you can see how surprised I was when I read about http://thementoringproject.org/ There are about 30,000 children in state orphanages in Ukraine and about 31,000 evangelical churches! So you can see how we see the heart of the Father for fatherless children can be worked out through this process.

    Alongside One Hope, we have been significantly involved in the development and financing of the Ukraine Without Orphans Alliance, (http://www.ukrainabezsyrit.org) a national initiative which is bringing together hundreds of organisations and people who work with at risk children to bring about change through churches at a national level. As I write this note I am in Moscow where I have been involved in the launch conference for the Russia Without Orphans Alliance (Belarus and Romania are also in the pipeline) and next week I will be in Orange County at the Christian Alliance for Orphans conference where there are plans being developed for a World Without Orphans alliance – God is on the move in this way for the fatherless children of the nations.

    After reading about the bike ride across America, I thought you would also be interested to know that last year, led by Christians and Churches, two teams of orphans from state orphanages, adopted kids and foster kids cycled across Ukraine, one from the West and one from the East meeting in Kiev and raising the awareness by staying in churches and casting a vision for Christians to join in the movement. (You can see some video clips here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J90ChVGFGUU ) Now, it’s spreading and the some of the same team, plus local teams, are cycling across Russia in stages during 2012/2013 and then looking at over the following 2 years working towards America and even further to claim to the world that the Father has commanded his church to take care of the fatherless, it’s a very exciting adventure!

    Once again, thank you for the book. I once heard someone say that we will be the same person we are today 5 years from now, apart from the people we meet and the books we read. I know, it’s often said, but for me it was a life changing read and I for one am very grateful.

    Sincerely,

    Peter

  • http://www.crookedmystic.com TB Pasquale

    My life has been pretty much like skydiving–a lot of free falling and many times the parachute doesn’t open :). Adventure, Illness, Trauma, and a couple of teaspoons full of Divinity just when I need it (never when I want it).

    Life has been a pretty wild story–now I have to just craft the time in my storyline for sitting down and writing more of it out. My story doesn’t necessarily need a choreographer but definitely, often, needs a stenographer.

    Thanks for musings on life as a story in preparation for your conference–I am a big fan of metaphor and life is the best learning metaphor of all. The risks we take or don’t, the times we climb out of the hole or sit in cow dung for a little too long can be a learning plot. Everything, even the pain of trauma, the sting of heartbreak, and anything in between can be a “life parable” (as I like to call it) if we want to see it that way.

    Thanks for some literary thoughts on the nature of life and what we do with it.

    Congrats on the movie reviews so far and good luck at your conference!

  • Mary

    Great article, Donald! I have to say, that seeing Zach Braff in the pictures made it even better!!

  • http://www.benjaminjcarey.com Benjamin J. Carey

    NO DOUBT ABOUT IT. I’m “living a story” Donald!

    http://www.benjaminjcarey.com/2011/09/memorable-life-is-made-up-of.html

  • http://itsakoolife.wordpress.com Rebeccca Koo

    Love it. And loved your email about the Storyline conference. I went through a cynical phase where I thought the reason we love story so much (either pages or screens) is because of the character development. Because I didn’t think people changed in real life. I still think there are some people who do not change and do not grow, but maybe there are a few people who do. Even though I think all people are capable of it, some just don’t. And the people in my life who do not change drive me nuts. But the people who do are completely life giving to me.

  • Bridget A. Macaskill

    Thanks for sharing, I do appreciate your point of view by the way I am a pastor at convent church MD. Our church is looking for church management software . So we can be in touch in our people anywhere, anytime. I got to know about two companies which are the best, ACS Technologies & Congregation Builder. Both are good at services but Congregation builder is cheaper than ACS tech. So any feedback about them is greatly appreciated.

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  • http://www.heartofacoachswife.blogspot.com Christan Perona

    We run to what’s broken – it’s often comfortable or non-threatening, or it’s simply out of habit. Thanks for waking us up and motivating us to live boldly. It takes courage to be bold. God, send grace.

  • Kelly

    I gave notice to pursue my passion perhaps an hour or so before reading this post. Mr. Miller, do you have a non-public fan email addy or P.O. Box where people could write responses to all the great stuff you’re putting out there without having to expose their private thoughts to the whole world? Your books, your film, your posts are mentally, emotionally, spiritually provoking. I’d love to respond, even knowing you’d probably get so much fan mail you wouldn’t have time to read it all. You could save it for when you’re old and stuck in a wheelchair or something!

  • http://www.SpiritualKlutz.com Spiritual Klutz

    People on TV rarely get married, stay with the same spouse, have kids, and go to work so they can pay the bills. Living a “boring” life like that – one that requires you to do things like feed little kids every day – now THAT’S a departure from the typical episode of Mad Men or Jersey Shore.

    And here’s what makes that kind of life even more distinctive: unlike formulaic TV shows that have quick resolutions based on dramatic decisions, it’s a decades-long walk of faith. And you need that faith to believe that the boring stuff you’re doing – like changing diapers and volunteering to teach Sunday School – will really matter in the long run.

    Don’t use a TV show as your model for decision-making, or you’ll turn into a drama queen whose main criteria for making choices is what it does for you.

  • http://www.dlgreenlee.com DL Greenlee

    Mr. Miller I haven’t read your blog for a while as I’ve been working on my off the couch story, so it was fitting this was the first entry I read after returning to your blog. I figured on sending you an email or a message but when I clicked “contact” I didn’t see that option. Hope I don’t offend you with the following but here goes. The first book of yours that I read “Searching For God Knows What,” was a gift from my nephew as I had announced my intentions of becoming an author. I know, I know another author crawling out of the woodwork, but I’d like to say thanks just the same. My original plans have morphed into a fictional series of novellas titled, “The Bloodline.” The first novella, “The Fire of Cahir,” is now burning a hole where it sits on my website http://www.dlgreenlee.com. The series is about a family’s struggle to serve God and meet the challenges of life with a bit of supernatural and spiritual warfare thrown in; it begins in 1848 Texas and will wind its way through to our modern era. Also on my site is the first short story of another series based on my experiences as a Texas peace officer in the 1980′s & 90′s. I know your busy but if your so inclined, perhaps you could shoot over to the website and give me a thought or two. Thanks again for your words.

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  • http://thepaperskies.com David Helms

    This has been the story of my life so far, and pretty much the words of this post have been rolling around in my soul before I even read this today. I have a laid back “go with the flow” type of personality, and this has worked against me in this area of my life.

    It’s time for a change…time for vision.

    I will not be a passive person that life happens to. I was created to bring life.

  • Christal

    I love reading these thoughts Donald, and seeing where they fit in to other things God is throwing at me. My husband and I actually turned off the TV (literally) about 12 years ago, and reading a Million Miles was one of the best things we’ve ever done (3 years ago). We decided that we could change our story and I wrote lots of journal pages about characters, plot, location, etc. God had already made us uncomfortable with a couple of job layoffs, and we questioned finding new jobs to “pay the bills”, or really making a change and going a new route. We actually wanted to move to Portland, but it was a bit too far from family for me (and our 3 kids who really like their cousins and grandparents). God opened some doors and we landed in Denver instead. We’ve been making some changes, but seem to have landed in “TV land” again where we go to work, mow the lawn, drive kids to soccer practice, listen to the laugh track, etc.

    So, here is where things get weird and I’m having some serious revelations and questions. We want to make some major changes (sell our suburban house and move to the country and invite people to live with us and have amazing discussions about God in the living room every night – a real live community of Christians living together). We feel that God is preparing us for something…and I guess the commercial break comes on and says “Join us next week for the exciting conclusion.” Except this is our life – I don’t want to wait for the conclusion.

    So the revelation came last week when I realized that our lives truly mirror parables sometimes. I have led youth Bible studies for a number of years and love the parable of the talents (1 guy gets 5 talents, 1 gets 2 and 1 gets 1 – these are sums of money – Matthew 25). The first two guys use their talents and invest them and double their money. The other guy buries his in a hole. When the landowner comes back he is pleased with the first two guys and unhappy with the last. He says that because they were faithful with a little, he will reward them with much. The other guy has his talent taken away and is thrown out. I’ve always strived to be aware of using my talents, and try to get people to think about what gifts they have been given and how they can use them.

    But, lately, I’ve been unhappy. I have been feeling unused. Why would God be preparing me for something, and then just leave me sitting on the shelf. That’s when the revelation hit – about how I am managing what he has given me so far. These were those questions I was asking 3 years ago. The kids have got older and make more dirty dishes and dirty laundry and life seems hectic. I realized that I’m not managing what I’ve been given well – and God isn’t going to let me go to the next level until I learn to manage what I already have. Wow. What a conviction card. I think it’s something to share though. If you feel like you’re waiting for the next thing and don’t know why God isn’t doing it, you have to look at your life and see if you are handling what you already have well. It may be that you are supposed to make some major changes (like a huge move), or maybe you are supposed to make some little changes to your current life. It’s not near as exciting as a huge move or jump off the cliff, but it may be part of the story God is writing as he prepares us for the next chapter.

    Anyway, I hope this is helpful to someone else. We’d love to be on to the next chapter and start inviting people to come visit, hang out, have some real discussions about life and how they can make changes and launch people out into the world to go affect others. I guess I see it as being the water table for the marathon runners. We want to be here to encourage you, let you rest for a minute, refocus on the race at hand, and send you off refreshed. And we’ve love to do that for anyone who needs the water break.

    So Donald, as you’re traveling along and challenging people to think about their stories, we’d love to invite you to come and visit and take a water break for a little bit. We’d love to figure out how to make the vision become a reality. We don’t have a TV to watch shows on, but we have a comfy couch and a desire to share this amazing God with everyone. Sorry about the mini novel here. Congrats on the movie coming out and we are praying for you and everyone getting to attend Storyline that God is doing amazing things in your story!

    • Keith

      well said, don. and well said, my dear.

      this post reminds me of the song “sundown motel” by stavesacre. it brings back what God was saying to the wife and me for years: it’s time to go. and here we are again, God telling us that it’s time to go. it’s time to pursue the passions He has given to us. it’s time to get off our butts and start moving. He has work for us to do, and the reward is nothing short of His rich abundance.

      for everyone who has been too afraid to move, for everyone who has not dared to throw caution to the wind and live in faith… it’s beautiful once you’re out here.

      i can’t believe my wife invited don miller to come visit us. wait… yes i can. you’re beautiful, sweet lady. i love you!

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  • http://themchadley.wordpress.com Michael H

    Most of the best movies are about a couple different things; a battle to fight, an adventure to go on, a beautiful princess to be rescued, danger, and the battle between good and evil. We go to these movies and drink them in and leave saying; I wish I could have an adventure like that, I want to be like Braveheart or Neo or Luke Skywalker or Indiana Jones. We want an adventure that requires everything we have and pushes us to the edge. We have this in our hearts. If only we lived more like this, things would really change in the world!
    Great post Don!

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  • Kelli

    Usually, I agree, but this time I disagree. How can God’s metastory be compared to a television plot? Why all this pressure to be so individual and have such an expectation to have the “most exciting story at the bar or the dinner table”? Isn’t that just pride? Don’t we actually just become somehow hyperactive drones in our constant flailing against convention… doesn’t rebellion become a sort of compliance? Why is excitement so highly rated? Why all the pretense? Why can’t we just “be” in peace? Setting up an expectation of and entitlement to a world-defined extraordinary life seems to me to be oppressive. Why isn’t loving well the goal instead of living interestingly.

    • keith

      speaking from my own experience,the typical american life really is excruciatingly boring. i grew up in a normal, middle-class home with non-church-going parents. they did nothing. seriously. their typical day consisted of going to work, coming home for dinner, doing chores, watching television, then going to bed. many households i had spent time in were like this.

      having now my own family and my own life, i live much differently. we don’t take the safe route that most people take. we stop and talk to dirty homeless people. sometimes that truly is and adventure! we give more freely, both to our church, and to the people in our lives. i’ve begun skateboarding again, taken up snowboarding, and gotten back in touch with my creative side because it’s an awesome way to spend time with my kids. my family – kids included – work with young homeless people in downtown denver. all of this happened because we took a big chance.

      it was what i call a ‘faith risk’. we went through this period in which we were way too comfortable. there was no adventure in life. it became stagnant and… boring. at the same time, i felt this thing tugging at my insides, pulling me west. there was a voice inside of me telling me that it was time to go. i ignored it for a long time, and doing so drove me mad. for real mad… i fell deep into sin and did things that i can only explain through having not been in my right mind. i lost my job because of it, and i very nearly lost my family because of it.

      God finally started repeating the message to me over and over again that it was time to go. i didn’t want to believe it, but moving on was the subject of so much of what i would read and hear.

      the mrs and i talked about it for a long time and decided that Go

    • keith

      grrr… stupid touch pad…

      and decided that God truly was calling us elsewhere. don seems like a real dork, and he’s from portland, so we thought that maybe we probably fit in there as well. my suspicions were confirmed when my job sent me to portland for a couple days. it felt like home. ultimately, we decided that it was too far away from our family in kansas, so we looked at denver.

      that’s where we are now. we took a chance, and the way God has blessed us has been overwhelming. our cup truly runs over. we have found healing from my sin, we have been given a community of people who love us, and our faith has grown richly.

      life is definitely not boring now, and we can hear God calling us to grow deeper. i can’t wait to see what He has in mind for us.

      peace.

  • Tracey

    I didn’t even know about your blog. I was planning on just checking my email and heading to bed, but for some reason I felt like I had to google your name. I read a book of yours years ago, it affected me, but I did nothing about it. And then tonight, I googled you for no reason I can understand and found this post.

    I’m a writer myself–and this post spoke directly to me.

    This time, I plan to listen.

    Thank-you!

  • Holly

    I’ve read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, and I’ve just started Blue Like Jazz. I think its going to make me write a book. My flesh is not at all happy about this (I’m a painter, not a writer), but still the only thing that makes me put your book down, is when I’m no longer reading and I’m fully focused on how someone needs to write a book.
    I’m not very far into Blue Like Jazz, but so far, to me at least, it is describing your (and others’) process of how and why you believe.
    Two of my closest friends really struggle with their self-esteem and in some form or another, they always have. For some reason, it’s really stood out to me lately. Praying for them and for how I can help has become a priority lately, and since I’ve started reading Blue Like Jazz, I’ve been thinking about low self-esteem problems even more. Every few paragraphs I read, I have the thought of, “If someone could explain the process of overcoming self-esteem kinda like this, I think it would work. Someone should a book.” And on a few occasions, that “someone” has been an “I.” I’m pretty by the time I finish reading Blue Like Jazz, I’m going to have started writing a book. You, Donald Miller, are going to make me write a book. I have no interest in writing. Give me a paint brush, and I’m happy. I’m not happy with a pen in my hand. I don’t have a clue on how to even begin writing a book.
    You write of the process so beautifully and eloquently, but I’m rude and blunt. I loved your thoughts on Romeo and Juliet, but I feel like I need to write a book for girls who want Prince Charming to come sweep them off their feet, because that’s what I used to want. I just see this being problematic, but I think it needs to be done, and I keep asking myself, “If I don’t it, who will?”
    My flesh is being 100% sarcastic, but the Holy Spirit in me is being serious when I say this, but thanks a lot for inspiring me to write a book.

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  • Jonathan

    Hello, to give some background to my comment: i was not born in the usa (i was born in australia) yet have lived there on and off with my wife who is american. I became a usa citizen & now live in Europe in a line of work i really enjoy (i get to hang out with people and share life & about Jesus/ some people would call us missionaries). Anyway after just finishing Blue Like Jazz(Tal Como El Jazz) and reading this post about living a life more engaging then television… i feel like i both long for that to be true each day & rejoice when it actually is…
    Donald have you spoken much in public in Europe? Anyway i think much of your perspective would both be challenging to Jesus followers here but also very refreshing.
    Cheers, Saludos from Europe