Thursday, July 22, 2010


"The point of a story is never about the ending, remember.
It's about your character getting molded in the hard work of the middle."
~ Donald Miller, A million miles in a thousand years

Just a few nights ago, I was venting to a wise friend about my frustration with where I'm at in life, compared to where I thought I'd be by now. About all the things I've spoken, dreamed, studied and written about for years that have yet to become real experiences, due to either my own choices or curveballs life has thrown at me that changed the course I was on. And so after listening quietly to me for several minutes of working myself up over it all, he said something that I did not like at all. He said, "Amber, it sounds like you have been reading the same page over and over again. Maybe it's time to change that page, because until you do, you'll continue to be frustrated. But the thing is, I don't think you want to change that page yet."

I sat there, a little stunned, and I immediately fired back, "No, that's not true," or something brilliant like that. And then I gave him my list of reasons why his assessment wasn't accurate. He didn't understand my special circumstances or challenges of the past several years. He didn't know how many times I'd already tried to change the page and failed. I wasn't afraid to change the page, I said, I just didn't feel like it was time yet and I needed something to change it to first. I'm not interested in making a big change just because I think something needs to happen, I added. I'm having to learn to wait on God.

"Ok," he said simply. "But I still think you don't want to change the page."

The thing is, I haven't been able to get that conversation out of my head. It's stuck in me like a little prickly burr.

And then I read this little snippet of conversation in a book about creating the stories we want to live, and this famous guy, Robert McKee, who knows all there is to know about the elements of story and teaches it in workshops said this:

"Writing a story isn't about making your peaceful fantasies come true. The whole point of the story is the character arc. You didn't think joy could change a person, did you? Joy is what you feel when the conflict is over. But it's conflict that changes a person... You put your characters through hell. You put them through hell. That's the only way we change."

It made me stop. It made me think. About how my character has been shaped through conflict and going through hell the past two years. And about how much more development my character needs to experience. It made me a little tired to think about, because I don't know if this guy was talking about searching for conflict to put ourselves through. I don't think that was it at all, because conflict seems to find us whether or not we're looking for it and I'd rather not go looking for more, though I know it will come in time. I think he was talking more about putting ourselves in a place of risk and sacrifice. So I began to think, what risks am I taking in life right now? Am I taking any new risks, or am I reading and rereading about old risks I have taken, studying the same page over and over again? Darn it all, maybe my friend is smarter than I thought.

For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to live an epic story. I've wanted to give myself to something that requires great sacrifice and risk, something way bigger than myself, something that will share life with others. The thing is, maybe my friend is right. Maybe I'm a little afraid to change that page. And maybe I haven't changed that page because I've been too focused on figuring out the end instead of stepping out into the throes of the middle. I don't know what to do about that, but I know I don't want to just write about it. I think there is much truth in learning to wait on God and not forcing a page to turn, but I also think God knows when our hearts are ready for turning and when they're not, and only God can give us eyes to read what's written on our pages in a different light.

So this is my prayer: God, give me eyes to read and courage to risk turning that page.

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