Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz and, most recently, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, talked about good stories and how to live one. He says people become the character they play in the narrative they believe. It can bring out the best in us … or cause us to settle for some pretty lame stories (read that as lives). Miller says the stories adjust the moral compass in our brains and we live according to them. When we live good stories, we make a good life.
Miller talks about story often – as an author naturally would – but he doesn’t stick with unhinged stories. He wants people to find their place in God’s grand narrative. He says doctrine is important because it is the true story in which we live.
He challenged us to write a bunch of ‘what if’ questions on the board. “What if …” we built a house for someone who needs it in a hurting nation? “What if …” we did this or that? When we ask some “What ifs …” we can write a great story.
One final note, conflict is a key element in a meaningful story. We’re taught to avoid it, but if a story is to be meaningful, we need to have conflict.
The challenges to think about our stories are always compelling to me. I need to scribble out a few ‘What ifs …’ with my family. What about you?