That was the question I raised to my husband under a cloudy, silent Dublin sky on June 9, 2010. My blog entry for June 20 recounts this story, the anxious hours we spent on the last day of our 25th wedding anniversary trip to Ireland. In that entry I wrote about how my husband accidentally deleted 600+ photos from our camera, and how we made a somber trek to a camera shop where we hoped and prayed our precious digitized memories would be retrieved. I wrote about how I tried to bring comfort to our fearful hearts: “I consoled Jay (and myself) by telling him that it would make a great story…” I even began to mentally write that story.
So, how does one get the idea to “write a story,” the ending of which she can only hope will bring comfort? By reading Donald Miller’s book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. Even though I’ve been a story lover for most of my life, Don’s perspectives did much to prompt me to think about the stories in our lives, and especially how conflict is vital to these stories. Ironically, I’ve recently been reading another book by another famous author. That book, about the idols in our lives, helped me to pinpoint my biggest idol – Conflict Avoidance. Yes, the woman who is supposedly learning to have a greater appreciation for the importance of conflict, idolizes Peace and Tranquility!
As the Dixie Chicks sang, “There’s your trouble…” Knowing the place that conflict has in my story and truly embracing it so that I live my stories with courage and joy does not come naturally. Perhaps attending the Living a Better Story Seminar (click to find out more) might help me understand how I can delve even deeper, gain even greater insights, and live even better stories.
Going to Ireland was a story that was a complete surprise. But there are other more purposeful stories I want to live. There’s the story about how my husband and I open a restaurant that not only serves the best BBQ this side of Kansas City, but also gives jobs to young people who are excited about working for a place that pays them well enough so that they can donate their tips to a fund for the local food bank.
With the right investors, equipment and staff that story could happen. However, there’s another story that’s dearer to my heart. It’s complicated, it’s ancient, and it’s seldom deemed worthy of particular notice. I’ve been writing it for the past 23 years, will write it every day of my life and even from my grave. It’s a story about a woman who, like many others, raises kids who love God, love His Church and love others so that they don’t just look out for their own personal interests but also the interests of others. The kids do things like paint houses for Native Americans on reservations; they distribute food to homeless people; they crochet stacks of hats for newborns who were considered “unwanted pregnancies;” they help with Christmas meals for distressed inner-city families. The woman struggles to calculate the cost of raising such kids, these kids who will be sensitive to the plight of others. So far the price has included being uprooted and moved across the country more than once, sharing in their parents’ various losses and difficulties, and even suffering the consequences of driving drunk and endangering others’ lives. The plans for these stories are rarely clear-cut.
“Clear-cut” was what my objective was when I started writing this blog. I wanted to tell my readers about this seminar and try to win the contest so I could go to the seminar myself. I wanted to go and be inspired by more of the same ideas that helped me deal with the prospect of losing 600 photos on a once-in-a-lifetime trip. In “the end,” however, this endeavor has reminded me that the stories I want most to live have very little to do with me and a lot to do with others. They are the type of stories that create pictures that never need the aid of a camera shop.