A Better Story

Who goes to Ireland for nine days and comes back without any pictures?”

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.


Living a Better Story Seminar from All Things Converge Podcast on Vimeo.


6 thoughts on “A Better Story

  1. As my story has been in full swing and I have not really taken the time to write it all down, I did want to share with my favorite R that I just finished Don's book, too. And all the while I was reading it, I was wondering if you were reading it. Truly he brings up several good points about one's life and the story it tells. Did you read his To Own A Dragon? Thanks for the comments on story, my dear friend! Are you coming up for the seminar????

  2. No-R, we ARE soul sisters! Everytime I loan out my copy of Through Painted Deserts I recall our after church conversation at WPC and you bringing your copy to loan to me. (I did read To Own a Dragon.)I would LOVE to come up for the seminar, but God will have to provide another Ireland-like miracle. He is able, of course, and my pen is ready – regardless of how it ends.

  3. Bri- I think I loved this blog of yours the most. Your vulnerability AND reminder that our "Story" often includes things we'd never want really helped me. I need to hear this over and over again. Thank you for writing.Don't stop.Gail

  4. Bri, I agree with Gail that this is your loveliest post. I just sigh, and let the tears well up.I'm not sure which chokes my life more, conflict or constant fear of it. Even worse is that nagging voice that keeps getting louder, reminding me that I wasn't afraid of conflict until I became a Christian. I keep shutting that voice up because I don't want to even entertain more conflict in the conclusion, despite knowing more faith is promised in the end. Something tells me I'm not as deaf as I'd like to think, though. Some day I'm going to have to listen, and talk back.

  5. Megan,Thanks for your encouragement and especially your own thoughts. Since I've been a Christian since quite young, I can't really relate to having less fear of conflict during that time. However, my fear has grown the longer I have served Christ. I think you are surely right, we do need to listen to that voice – and our day to talk back will come. May God give us strength, grace and wisdom in that day. And please know that the strength you already show is inspiring to me and others.

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