Mar 30, 2015

Not My Story...

I've mentioned in passing that I'm a fan of Donald Miller's writings, and in particular I enjoy his book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, which is all about looking at life as one big story, and the implications such a viewpoint brings.

I definitely recommend the book as a whole to most anyone. The first thing it did for me was to re-frame my views on conflict and difficult/sad times. I have a tendency to avoid such things like the plague because they're not pleasant, and who would deliberately and willingly embrace unpleasant things? But of course if you think of all the best stories you see that struggle is sort of part of the deal. Without something to overcome you end up with a bland story. So now, while I am still not big on conflict and struggle, I think about how I would want my story to read in dealing with them, and that makes me feel a little braver.

I think maybe the most powerful aspect, though, has been the concept of "Not My Story." I don't remember if Miller even distinguished it in his book, but it's been huge for me. There's a saying/meme making the rounds on Facebook that goes something like, "Not my circus, not my monkeys," which I LOVE as far as staying out of situations I simply don't need to involve myself in. It doesn't work on my own kids because it turns out they are, in fact, my circus and my monkeys, but it works great when I get an impulse to respond to OPINIONS and DRAMA on the internet and I need a little sanity check.

"Not My Story" goes a little further for me, though. It reminds me that my own story is the only one I am writing, the only one I need to worry about. My wheels have a tendency to spin a little fast in the "How-does-this-apply-to-my-life" Department. "Not My Story" slows the wheels a little, and frees me to see the beauty in and appreciate others' stories for what they are, rather than reading more into them than what is there. "Not My Story" keeps me a little less defensive and a little less prideful (and a lot less neurotic).

"Not My Story" reminds me that I get to choose how I do stuff ('cuz I'm a grown-up, dangit), and if I'm not feeling otherwise prompted by God, then I can relax and keep doing what I'm doing. And it's not that God doesn't prompt, either. In fact, when I do relax a little, I seem to pick up on God's promptings a little easier, sometimes even in conjunction with the very stories I'd otherwise be feeling defensive about. Which is weird, but whatevs. "Not My Story" frees me to appreciate the beauty in my own story, and to see the truth of what is there, rather than trying to forcefully manufacture what isn't.

"Not My Story" even works on my own circus, and my own monkeys. The Cat Daddy and I marvel at how the kids' worlds have expanded as they've grown and gone to classes, playgroups, and school. They have their own worlds separate from us, and their own stories which are of course intertwined with ours, and yet still distinctly theirs. It actually blows my mind a little sometimes, wrapping my head around that one. "Not My Story" helps me toe the line a little when I'm not sure how much to interferevene. I get it right for moments at a time, even. Moments!

There are so many principles and stuff we church kids learn along the way, that can be kind of hard to decode sometimes. For me, "Not My Story" puts sturdy walking shoes on "Don't compare yourself with others," without putting unnecessary distance between myself and others through dismissal or defensiveness. There's even a verse about it (Galatians 6:4, NLT).

So next time you are feeling condemned or less-than, or that someone is living their story at you, remember yours is the only story you're writing, and you get a lot of say-so in how it goes. At least your part of it, anyway. And your story has a lot of its own beauty to be discovered. Hopefully that is comforting to you. It is for me...


LU said...

We are in parallel, my friend.

Ruth said...

A verse even. Dude. Deep.