Donald Miller says that a story is about a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it. He said this in his book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. The context for this is that he was making a movie about his life, but his actual life had to be altered so the movie could have enough drama.
Everyone has some level of conflict in their lives, but what if your conflict isn’t exciting? What if the conflict in your life isn’t worth sharing? What if it isn’t exciting enough for a movie?
Is your story less important if it’s boring?
These are the questions I’ve been wrestling with for nearly two months. Over those months I’ve landed on several different answers, but none seemed to capture the truth adequately.
The past 7 weeks have been the longest, hardest, most stretching of my entire life. 7 weeks ago this past Monday Rose and I welcomed our son Judah into the world. Sparing you all the details, he’s been through just about everything a little boy can go through at his age: several medical procedures, breast feeding issues galore, stomach pains, and lately some new mouth issues from thrush (thrush comes from yeast in mom and it’s something that’s been an ongoing issue).
The conflict in this part of my story is trying to raise a child well. Hard to believe this would be harder than writing a book, but it is.
This conflict isn’t particularly exciting. It’s mentally exhausting for me, but I doubt it connects with an audience on a meaningful level. In fact just calling it a conflict makes me look weak because in reality I have a healthy baby boy, so I should buck up and deal with the small issues instead of whining about them. If this part of my story was a movie it would be incredibly boring.
I prefer for life to stay exciting. I like to have something big on the horizon of life that I can set my eyes on every day. I like to dream big. I love to introduce conflict into my story because I know it makes me a better person. But all this is on hold at the moment. Each day is about survival and trying to take some positive steps forward so tomorrow can be just a bit better. It’s not how I envisioned parenthood but it has been the reality.
Through all this I’ve come to some temporary conclusions regarding story, conflict, and living a life worth telling others about:
A story doesn’t have to be exciting for it to be worth living. (tweet this?)
It’s easy to get down on your life because your story isn’t shared thousands of times on Facebook. The minute you start to value the affirmation of others over the quiet work of God within you is the same minute you’re enslaved to their praise.
A story doesn’t need a market value to have life-changing worth to you. (tweet this?)
Our culture is slowing getting suckered into believing the lie that a life worth sharing is the only life worth living. We start to view life through a lens of what people will like or share. We start to form thoughts into 140 character tweets. This isn’t to say that sharing life is bad, but when we only seek out the sharable parts of life, we miss out on a huge section of life where God is at work but we refuse to go.
It’s with these two ideas in mind that I’m continuing to pour myself into the conflict at hand. It isn’t sexy. I won’t be writing a best-selling book about it. But to not engage it means I miss out on moments like this. And to miss out is to miss everything.
Yes, boring stories are worth telling, even if you’re the only one listening.