There’s an abundance of focus on living a life that matters. A purpose-filled life. A meaningful life. Making the most of our days. Phrases abound. But, to be honest, I don’t think I know what a purpose-filled life means.
Is it living every day with passion? Is it working a 9-5 you love? Is it selling all your stuff and moving overseas? Is it working to build that dream home in that dream location, overlooking the mountains or the ocean?
We’re drawn to the phrases because they connect with something in our inner-most being. We know something about a purpose-filled life is right, even if we don’t know exactly what it is.
What we really desire, I believe, is to live a good story.
We want the summation of our days to equal a compelling story, one we would share with others and pass down to our loved ones.
What does a good and compelling story look like? Even if you can’t describe, you can probably point it out. The very best stories seem to outlive Father Time. I’m thinking here of the Bible and The Odyssey and the Inferno. Or more recently, The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.
So, what kind of story are you living? Is it compelling? Would you package it up, share it with others?
Truth is, most of us aren’t living good stories. And the reason? We buy into the enemy’s lies.
I can’t make a difference.
I’m not smart enough.
I’m not old enough.
I’m not young enough.
I don’t have what it takes to fight through the struggle.
I can live a good story without taking risks.
The lies are as numerous as the sand grains in the Sahara and as old as time itself.
Let’s be honest, living a good, compelling story is dang hard.
What’s more, we live in an age with a-million-and-one options to distract us from living a better story, to silence that still small voice.
“Your marriage doesn’t have to fall apart. You can write a better story,” says the Spirit.
“No, my relationship is too far gone. He hurt me. The wound is too gaping. I’ll check my Twitter feed instead.”
“You don’t have to continue working a 9-5 that drains your life and energy. You can write a better story,” whispers the Spirit.
“No, I can’t leave my job. It pays well. And without my income, we can’t pay the bills. Hey, what time do the 49ers play?” (as if anyone cares)
Maybe you haven’t lived a good story in a very long time. That’s okay. The beauty of life is that every day is an invitation to write a better story. You can start today.
But, where? How?
Well, think about your 8-year-old self. What would that self do?
My 8-year-old self would write. When I was 8, I wrote stories. For no reason at all. I wrote them because I enjoyed writing. I was under no pressure. I wasn’t getting paid. I was living, as most 8-year-olds, intuitively.
Maybe your story has nothing to do with writing. It probably doesn’t. Maybe it involves something more complex than your 8-year-old self could comprehend (mending a broken relationship, ending an addiction).
So, here’s another question.
Would what you do if you weren’t afraid?
If fear were not a player, what would you do? If the opinions of others couldn’t touch your story, how would you live it? If failure wasn’t a thing, what would you do with your life?
If you choose to live a better story, you will endure resistance. You will come face-to-face with fear. You will be forced to embrace vulnerability and take risks. But whatever you must do, you can do. You have what it takes. You can make difficult choices. I know because God wired you to write a good story. And our Creator is a Zen master in the art of turning failure into triumph, pain into joy.
Right now, in this season, I’m tasked to do the very thing my 8-year-old did for fun. In many ways, this makes writing more difficult. It’s surprisingly hard for me to face the blank screen and blinking cursor every day. No matter the time or season, the little devils are there. They pull up chairs beside me and begin their whispers.
You’re not talented enough. You’re not healthy enough. Everyone will think you’re a terrible writer. Nobody cares what you say.
I don’t ask them to leave, the devils. They can stay right where they are, assuming they do two things: brush their teeth and keep their mittens away from my headphones, which will remain over both ears at all times.
The devils will show up in your life too when you make the decision to live a better story. Satan despises good stories, or any stories. Stories are God’s thing. So the evil one will stop at nothing to keep your story safe and comfortable and void of risk.
Step into the struggle. Don’t worry about outcomes. Good stories are about the journey, not the outcome. The reward is in the process.
As you live your story, you will become someone you never thought you could be, someone much more loving and joyful and full of life. You will impact people in ways you could never imagine. That will be the reward. And the reward will be enough.
You were created to write a good story with your life. Start today.
Grace and peace, friends.
Frank is lead writer and editor for the blog at Bayside church. He is also a husband, father and Jesus-follower. Occasionally he plays golf. Often he drinks coffee.