I love telling stories. When I read books, I read them out loud just to practice. Storytelling is an art and with an unskilled storyteller, a great story can turn into a boring one.
Ironically, telling a good story isn’t the same as living a good story. Even great storytellers can live boring lives.
In the past I’ve had a difficult time coming up with stories about my own life. I have no problem taking someone else’s story and telling it well. But the story I lived didn’t always seem all that interesting.
There are a couple of reasons why I wasn’t living a better story.
Fear of Conflict Kills Your Story
I’ve thought about the handful of times when I actually had a story to tell. Every single story I can think of consisted of me being afraid of something, then eventually facing the conflict head on.
Every relationship problem I’ve ever encountered revolved around conflict. Fear caused me to run through every possible negative scenario in my mind. I figured conflict could only result in a negative outcome, worst of which is the termination of the relationship.
I actually found that the opposite is true. Every conflict I avoided led to problems and at times, the end of the relationship. But every time I was able to overcome my fear and face the conflict, I lived a better story.
Fear of Change Kills Your Story
Nobody likes change. If you say you like change, you’re lying. Or you’re running from something. Or you’re crazy. Take your pick.
We are creatures of habit and comfort. We desire safety. Change is an unknown variable that disrupts our equation of safety. But at some point in everyone’s story, change is required. And the longer we hold out on change, the longer we stay in the same chapter of our lives.
One way fear manifests in our lives is through control. When we can control our situation, we feel safe and protected. The problem is that we become independent and we can no longer trust anyone other than ourselves.
I’m reading Don Miller’s book “A Million Miles In A Thousand Years” and it’s rocking my world in how it relates to living a better story. He writes this passage about fear:
“Before I realized we were supposed to fight fear, I thought of fear as a subtle suggestion in our subconscious designed to keep us safe, or more important, keep us from getting humiliated.”
When I read that, I shuddered. I realized that a fear of being humiliated may very well be at the core of my inability to live well.
Information Is Not Enough
Early in the book Don realizes that just because you want to live a better story, doesn’t mean that you will. You have to be intentional about facing conflict and embracing change.
This is the turning point in our life. It’s where so many well-intentioned people fall short of greatness. It’s where so many people that desire to serve God end up turning away.
There’s a big difference between a desire and a decision.
I don’t want to just tell great stories, I want to live one. And so I leave you with one last quote from the book:
“Not living a better story would be like deciding to die, deciding to walk around numb until you die, and it’s not natural to want to die.”
How do you live a better story?
How do you deal with conflict and change?
Speaking of stories, I just became a Staff Writer over at Prodigal Magazine. We’re a community of people, all different ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, and geographical locations who come together to share their stories on one common platform. Check it out!