I never imagined that Dave would be the reader in our family. When I first met him in 1994, I had read hundreds and hundreds of books. Dave, not so many. I think Cliffs Notes were more his style. Yet today, Dave is the one who has a book in hand and is always on the hunt for something new and inspiring to read.
Recently Dave bought Donald Miller’s A Million Miles In A Thousand Years. We had already watched Donald’s Let Story Guide You lecture and have been haunted by the question, “If your life was made into a movie, would you want to go see it?”
Is the story of our lives about our own comfort, ease and pleasure? Is our story one of buying and collecting for ourselves? How are our lives meaningful? Most importantly, what story are our children a part of?
There is one chapter in A Million Miles In A Thousand Years that really, really hit me. It’s called How Jason Saved His Family.
Donald meets up with his friend Jason who is having major problems with his 13 year old daughter. Jason finds pot hidden in her closet and she is dating a real mess of a guy. Jason and his wife try grounding her but things get worse. Donald suggests something that gets Jason’s attention. He tells Jason that his daughter is living a terrible story.
Jason asks what he means and Donald explains that the elements of a story involve a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it. He tells Jason, “She’s just not living a very good story. She’s caught up in a bad one.”
A couple of months later Donald runs into Jason and asks about his daughter. “She’s better,” he says to me, smiling. And when I ask why, he tells me his family is living a better story.
After Jason and Donald first talk, Jason goes home and thinks about the story his family is living and the role his daughter is playing inside that story. He realizes he hasn’t mapped out a story for his family or provided a better role for his daughter. So his daughter chooses another story. A story in which there is risk and adventure, rebellion and independence.
Jason decides to stop yelling at his daughter and create a better story to invite her into. He researches on the internet and decides that his family is going to focus on orphans. He finds an organization that builds orphanages around the world. He calls a family meeting and tells his wife and daughter that their family is going to give the $25,000 needed to build an orphanage in Mexico. And he tells them that he has already committed to building it.
Jason mistakenly fails to mention any of this to his wife ahead of time and she is rightly upset with him. They have no money and just took a second mortgage on their home. That night they are lying in bed and he explains the whole story thing, about how they aren’t taking risks, aren’t helping anybody and how their daughter is losing interest. The next day Jason’s wife says she is proud of him.
Jason’s daughter decides she wants to go to Mexico to meet the kids. She breaks up with her boyfriend. She gets involved in the new story. As Jason says, “No girl who plays the role of a hero dates a guy who uses her. She knows who she is. She just forgot for a little while.”
Dave and I have been wrestling with and praying about all of this. What are we intentionally doing to create a great family story, one that our children will want to be a part of? Right now caring for Carmen is a major part of our story. Her very existence is an amazing story. But, Carmen won’t be here forever and then what?
At this point, we are fairly certain that our story will center around helping orphans too. To be honest, we didn’t have grand visions about helping orphans when we chose to adopt Carmen. But Carmen has impacted us so greatly that our hearts are drawn to helping more children. But we’re not exactly sure how.
What story do you want your life to tell so that your life is worthy of a movie?