Two weeks ago, J and I went to the Storyline Conference. I really hadn't expected there to be 1700 of us on campus at Point Loma, I hadn't expected to get to hear from Randall Wallace (the writer of Braveheart), I hadn't expected to laugh till my stomach hurt listening to Jon Acuff and I hadn't expected to process through so much of my life. The conference was incredible. If you ever have the opportunity to do it, just sign up.
My brain has been full this week to say the least.
I really believe Don has come across something amazing with this idea of creating our lives to be meaningful the same way a screenwriter makes a movie meaningful. There is no way for me to adequately sum up his books on this subject so instead I will only mention the part most meaningful to me currently.
This is my regurgitation.
(I would also like to preface this post by saying that while it's a little heavier than normal, it IS meant to encourage!)
An old proverb says, "Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest." We can't expect to accomplish what we hope to without crap. Our lives cannot be lived without pain, mistakes, or heartache. I think it's time we start embracing that.
If you decide at six years old you want to be a surfer and go out on the waves the first day and catch your first wave, then your second day win your first competition, you might be a youtube sensation for a day, but no one cries at the end of your story. If you struggle for years to find something you love, decide to try surfing, break your arm the first day and sell your board to pay the hospital bills, then work for years to get into a competition and finally win when you're 50 then you'll have a more meaningful story. And it's partly because of the suffering.
Last year I decided to write a book on marriage. Marriage is something I take really seriously and I see so many people struggling to figure out how it works. So I started my book. I finished the first chapter and suddenly felt inadequate to keep writing. J and I were fighting for the first time in our five years of being together. I understand, fighting is a normal part of relationships and we'd had disagreements before that, but this was a level I hadn't experienced yet. It was as though, at the end of the day, we didn't actually want to fix things. We were content to stay upset…forever it seemed. I thought, "How can I ever write about marriage when my marriage looks like this?"
So I stopped writing.
I thought maybe the fact that I had started writing was actually what was causing our arguments. I thought, somehow, I was being punished for thinking I was so great or…something! I decided that my marriage was more important than writing a book, so I stopped.
What I didn't realize then is that a book about marriage written by someone who had never had a sleepless tearful night would not be worth reading. Now I think those fights DID start because I started writing. They started so my story and my advice would be worth reading… and maybe so that my life would be worth living.
No, crap is not fun. But when I'm in a fight now and I realize it's making my story better I respond a little differently. Don says that a good story is about "a character who wants something and overcomes obstacles to get it" Without the obstacles it's just blah. J and I had never had obstacles in our marriage before. Now we have. It sucks so bad. We press through the obstacles, we're exhausted, but now we're at an opening and we're together. Now there's a chance I could write a good book about marriage, because it would include some hard times. Yeah, I sorta wish I hadn't gone through the crap, but to think that's what it takes for others marriages to be encouraged… I'd choose the same road again. Also, J and I are closer now. We know each other better.
Think about it… If I were not feeling the pain of training for a half marathon, I couldn't encourage anyone to train for a half marathon.
Life is not meaningful without pain. But that pain can be turned around to something inspiring.
Don't stop when life comes against you. Embrace the poo and keep moving forward.
Can you think of something in your life that you're thankful for that you wouldn't have if something bad hadn't happened? For example, one of my close friends and I met because a mutual friend died in a car accident. I don't think I would have her if he hadn't died. It doesn't take the pain away, but ten years later, I'm still thankful I have her friendship.
Can you think of any way something positive could come from the challenges you're facing today? Leave a comment! I'd love to be encouraged by your story!