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Your Life Is A Story, So What Does The Back Of Your DVD Say?

by The Happy Rock on May 6, 2010

baby-tv-computer-on-the-couchI have been listening and reading through A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life(affilaite link), and in it Donald Miller provides a very simple framework for thinking about your life: your life is a story.

The basic premise is that the same rules apply to your life as they do to stories.  The stuff that makes a good story makes a good life.  If your life feels boring then the story that you are telling is probably boring. Nobody sets out to tell a boring story, they often just happen because we aren’t intentionally trying to tell a good one. The idea is to live a page turner.

A simple question that really helped me gauge where I am at in my story is “what would the back cover of the ‘Your Life, the DVD’ say?

This is what I came up with for mine:

From food stamps and a young but devoted mother, Frank “The Happy Rock” successfully navigates a turbulent childhood into college where he meets his wonderful wife.  Together they conquer $70,000 in debt, get good jobs, and create a beautiful life for their two children.  You never know what kind of action his days will bring as he attempts to have patience with his children and tries not make his wife mad at him. Tune in to watch as he earns money and buys stuff.  Will he make it? Will he survive?

I know that doesn’t speak to how blessed my life is right now(it really is), but it is true to how I feel and yet still accurate at the same time.  As I look back at my life as though it were a story it was a real page turner.   Being born to a young mother and addict father, escaping poverty into the middle class, moving from isolation into marriage, and journeying from selfishness into parenthood is the stuff of good stories.  It didn’t feel like it at the time, but somehow that part of the story now reads like best seller.

When I look at where the story is heading now, the picture is much less engaging.   We ‘made it’, but the irony is that’s the problem. My wife and I have pretty much the freedom, money, and skills to do most anything we want, yet our life consists of Target, Netflix, Gardening, and going to the park.   Don’t get me wrong, it is a good life, but it isn’t one that keeps you on the edge of your seat.   There is virtually no conflict, no plot twists, and no chance of failure.  It isn’t a page turner and it certainly isn’t sending the message I want to my boys.

One motivating part about framing your life as a story, is that you are the authorYou get to change the storyline. In life you can’t change what happened, but you get full control over where the story is going.  The question is: What are the new story lines that you want to tell?

I would love to hear what everyone else thinks about their story lines?

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

ed May 6, 2010 at 10:13 am

John Piper wrote a book called “Don’t Waste Your Life”
Free download:
http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/OnlineBooks/ByTitle/1593_Dont_Waste_Your_Life/

I often think about one of the stories in the book about a couple who made lots of money in their young years. They sold their house and moved to Florida, where they spend the rest of their twilight years collecting seashells.

The book aims to show that there is only one thing in life worth living for: Jesus. The life lived in devotion to Christ is a life full of satisfaction and peace.

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Jacquelin May 10, 2010 at 12:03 pm

I think you know where you want to go, maybe you are just scared to do it. A lot of financial bloggers have more than one blog, so they can talk about numerous subjects. You have a lot to talk and inspire about. What about people out there who are looking to adopt? Have a blog or area about your financial and emotional journey with adopting. Talk about how you exactly got out of the hard life you grew up with and how you got to where you are now. Talk about how you and your wife have been able to stay out of debt and keep a middle class life-with the addition of two little ones. And yes, talk about how your Christian faith has helped you through all of this. will it take off immediately? Don’t know. But, what I do know is that dependability is one of the keys to any type of relationship. So, if you want to write, then blog away and readers will come.

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Andrea May 10, 2010 at 2:41 pm

My story line is still under development (I hope). A single mother of two daughters who bring her great joy (and a bald spot from all the pulled hair) while she toils away in a job she feels more than a little blessed to have but is uninspired by holding. Will she find her new path? Watch and see…

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Thecpa May 11, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Great post and analogy! Glad you’re back.

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Susanna May 17, 2010 at 10:52 am

You are a very fortunate individual (and family) I think. You have earned your current lifestyle through hard work, perseverance and dedication, all the while keeping your family together and happy – not many people can claim that.

You describe your life as not being a “page-turner”, but many people are striving to obtain even a fraction of the success and stability you are currently blessed with, though admittedly that lifestyle doesn’t suit everyone equally. I think, in time, your boys will recognize the struggles you have gone through and appreciate you more for having conquered them.

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Bob May 17, 2010 at 2:50 pm

I feel like living your life as a story, can lead to unforeseen consequences. Most stories are full or ridiculous coincidences and lucky breaks, which life usually doesn’t throw your way. I guess that would be my story then, a realist who just enjoys life as I live it. Very interesting idea, though.

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Melanie May 28, 2010 at 7:03 am

While I respect Bob’s story-line “a realist who just enjoys life as I live it” – that is a beautiful way to put it – I think that truth is often stranger than fiction! The people I know who have the best stories are constantly telling me of ridiculous coincidences and “lucky” breaks. I think it is because they put themselves out on a limb. They risk something. They take chances that others aren’t taking. I say, start asking God what he wants you to risk! In fact, that is a good question for me too, one I have never asked before.

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HappinessandWisdom June 5, 2010 at 9:55 pm

Love the story line concept. I suspect a lot of great stories start with an outline, which speaks to the importance of having an ultimate goal in mind and at least a rough idea of how to get there. I think having an understanding of what one truly wants their life to be is a vital step towards achieving it. I don’t mean to imply that this gives us any real control over what occurs — that’s a myth — but it could guide what we can control — our own actions.

P.S. Thanks for your Do Follow policy – I’m setting-up the same!

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