One of my favorite authors is Donald Miller. I recently re-read one of his books called A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I learned while editing my life.
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years is the story of when Don and 2 other guys turned Blue Like Jazz (an earlier book he wrote and a memoir of sorts) into a screenplay for a movie. What they discovered, however, is that they had to “edit” Don’s life in Blue Like Jazz because it wasn’t interesting enough for a movie as is. Ouch.
As they were writing the screenplay, Don started to learn about the fundamentals of a good story and writing a better story of his life, in real time. He discovered the formula for a good story is “A Character Who Wants Something and Overcomes Conflict to Get It.” He also learned about “inciting incidents” which are “events that force your character to move.” Don writes that “Without an inciting incident that disrupts their comfort, they won’t enter into a story. They have to 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.”
In the book, Don details some of the things he did to write a better story in real life and inciting incidents he created to write a better story.
The first time I read the book, I was inspired to run a half marathon. I signed up for it, trained and invited to friend to join me – invited them into a better story as well 😊 After I read it this time, I felt God calling me to gather women together, so I started a book club. Within a week, God pulled together a group of ladies that don’t really know each other, we have a book selected and will start to meet next week. Writing a better story through God’s goodness and pointing others toward Him.
Writing better stories include giving our stories to God and using our stories to point others toward him. Don talks about the passage in Job where God basically asks Job who made the heavens, who laid the earth’s foundation, who was there among the angels – Job readily admitted that “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.” God reminded Job that this earthly life isn’t about us humans, but rather God and His ultimate plan and Kingdom.
We won’t always understand why things are happening in our stories. What we can do, however, is trust that God is writing a good story for us and lean into the promptings/inciting incidents that He’s giving us to write a better story. It’s not too late to edit your story, write a better story and remember that really, the story isn’t about us anyway but rather bringing glory to God.