word of the day: story \stȯr-ē\ a person that wants something and is willing to overcome conflict to get it.
Lately I’ve been thinking quite a lot about what role I play in the story of my life. The obvious first thought is the protagonist. The main character of the story. It is my story after all, isn’t it? I make the choices; I walk the road. I hold the pen.
When I think about this passage, I’m not so sure that’s entirely accurate:
[When] you live a story[,] the first part happens fast. You throw yourself into the narrative and you’re caught in the water, the shore is pushing back behind you and the trees are getting smaller. The other shore is inches away and you can feel the resolution coming, the feeling of getting out of your boat and walking the distant shore, looking back to see where you came from. The first part of a story happens fast, and you think the thing is going to be over soon. But it isn’t going to be over soon. The reward you get from a story is always less than you thought it would be, and the work is harder than you imagined. It’s as though the thing is teaching you the story is not about the ending but about the story itself, about your character getting molded in the hard work of the middle. The shore behind you stops getting smaller, and you paddle and wonder why the same strokes used to move you but they don’t anymore…The shore you left is just as far and there is no going back, there is only the decision to paddle in place or stop, slide out of the hatch and sink into the sea. Maybe there is another story at the bottom of the sea? Maybe you don’t have to be in this story anymore? Maybe you can quit and not have to paddle in place anymore? 
I think I thought the story ended in
Africa. I think I thought that I would go to Africa and my life would change and my problems would be solved.
As someone who is largely driven by fear (I’m really good at calculating risks and using those calculations in deciding against most things I deem even slightly risky), going to
Africa shattered my comfort zone. I was forced to face fear head on. And I think I thought that such a trip would fix me. No more fear.
The experience didn’t fix me though. At times, the irrational feeling of fear still prickled up my neck in the middle of the night. It lingered, and I found myself frustrated that such an extreme experience couldn’t rid me of my vice.
It reminds me of Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12:
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
I have realized that I may have to fight fear my entire life. It’s a lie that is deeply rooted within me, and one that I will continually have to combat with truth. One that I will continually combat with truth. But fear doesn’t have to keep me from moving forward. It’s like when you stand on a beach and let the tide roll over your feet. You can only stand still for so long until all the sand has been taken out from under you and you have to take a step.
I went to
Africa. I took a step. God’s power is made perfect in my weakness.
The reward you get from a story is always less than you thought it would be, and the work is harder than you imagined. It’s as though the thing is teaching you the story is not about the ending but about the story itself, about your character getting molded in the hard work of the middle.
My story isn’t about the ending; it’s about the story itself. And, the hard work of the middle—the part where I get molded and shaped—well that part isn’t really about me either. It’s about the One who’s made perfect in my weakness.
I don’t want to throw the oars over the side of my boat. I don’t want to slide out the hatch and sink into the sea. I don’t want to give up on the story I’ve been given.
I want to choose to face fear and write a story in which I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
And with all this in mind, I sort of feel like my story’s just starting to get good.
 Miller, Donald. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life.
: Thomas Nelson, 2009. Print. Nashville, TN