If my life was a movie...

My friend, Micah, and I were talking down at The Bite for lunch. He's a good buddy. He is a worship/teaching pastor at a church called Engedi in Holland. He has two ear rings. He spikes his hair in various directions. He's trendy, edgy and postmodern. His clothes look very European. I like him, he is artsy fartsy, like me.

We were talking about story...the power of it. The necessity of living in it and out of it as it relates to ministry. We were talking about our lives as a story and how boring our stories are on most days. We talked about how long a person would watch a movie of our life. We laughed as we admitted that people would be walking out after 10 minutes asking for their money back. Most humans live such unstoried lives, boring as all get out.

The plot of our days is predictable and contrived. The drama that emerges is over stupid things that are both inconsequential and forgettable. Our relationships are many times banal and surfacy. We have such small dreams and are far too easily pleased. The conflict that fills our heads and our schedules is over silly stuff that can't even lodge itself in our memory banks for more than a week.

The smallness of our stories lead us to vulnerable places of temptation. We are seduced by worthless things only because our lives are often not worthwhile. We are attracted to lesser lovers because our interaction with "glory" is so rare. Movies provide a psuedo-story to live in. Music licks our wounds. Television grants a portal into the "more" that we're looking for, a vicarious brush up against transcendance. It feels good momentarily until we realize it's not really happening to us. We are onlookers salivating for a story to live in that is compelling. Wishful thinking and thoughtful wishing. This is, for many, the best that it ever gets.

I think people might stay in a movie of my life for about 10 minutes max. They would find it very "American Dreamish", very safe for the most part, very sterile and unoriginal. I think they would wonder why someone took the time to capture it on film. I would say my childhood had some of the most rivoting plots since I lived from a very child-like heart (this gives you the best chance of lively living). I used to take risks and dream big. Now I find most days blending into each other without many distinguishing variables. I get bored to death on some days tired of the same-ole', same-'ole. Nothing dicey happens most days. I just trudge to and fro and I hate it. I want to live for something huge. And here's the kicker. I am living for something huge...the kingdom of God for crying out in the night. And yet there is something so normal about my days. Something so "the same" about me. Something so ridiculously monotonous and laborious.

Why isn't the greatness of my cause leading to a storyline that would make a human stay in the theater for more than ten minutes. I don't want my girls growing up in a small story with a sorry dad bereft of dreams. I don't want boredom to be the banner over our home. I don't want my kids to be looking for a greater story to live in than what I'm providing for them. I want everything else to look like a demotion to prosiac passivity. I want my life to be a mosaic of meaning teeming with adventure and fraught with danger for a great cause. I want surprise and suspense to greet us every morning as we wake to a new day. I want to create environments that challenge us to new levels of living. I want to be random. I want to be caught off gaurd and to catch my kids off gaurd. I want my wife to wonder what tomorrow holds. I want her to know that I won't let life gut me like a landed fish. I want her to know that I will not let the movie of our life be forgettable. I will work toward creating a story worth living in and living out.

Now that I say that, I have no idea what I'm talking about. I'm just getting all lathered up about something I wish I could change, and half think I can, but half know I won't. I'm just being honest. I want to live a storied life...I'm starting to think that the life of family literally depends on it for survival in this wonderless world.

10 minutes...how long do you think someone would stay in the theater to watch a movie of your life? It's a question that I think is worth asking.


Jody said…
Um. Wow, Jason. I have a feeling this comment is going to get a bit lengthy, so my apologies to you in advance. But, I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to share my thoughts with you in regards to your own.
You seem to be asking many of the same questions that I found myself wondering nearly 6 years ago.
At that time, I had been raised as a PK and had gone to church all my life. I was even a bit 'frustrated' because the messages our pastor was preaching seemed to be something beyond what I could do. I was literally a 'stuck-st-home-mom' at that time, with 3 small children...my youngest was still wearing a heart/oxygen monitor at just 3 months of age...and my hubby worked long hours as an asst. golf pro. I basically went to church and once in awhile out for groceries, but that was it.
The pastor's messages for several weeks touched on "Living Christ in our Community'.
I remember one Monday afternoon sitting outside in my quiet neighborhood, while my kids played in our fenced-in backyard. My heart and mind felt torn... so I began to cry out to God- asking Him what it was He could possibly want ME to do? It was as though He was asking me to do the impossible. I wanted to do more, yet I had no opportunities. Or so it seemed.
I sometimes now, almost 'regret' that God heard the cry of my heart that day, and that I was living the most 'perfect, quiet, ordinary, mundane life', and I had no idea that I was taking it for granted. Although I did love my kids and hubsband very much...something was still tugging at my heart.
That is what I was drawn to and it resonated in me as I read your thoughts and longigs here in this post.
What I never could have imagined was that God heard me, and all He needed was a little longing in my heart to be able to do something far beyond what, as I said, I could ever dream.
Just weeks after that quiet afternoon in my backyard, my husband and I took our family out for Sunday brunch after church, and moments after our food was served, a suicidal woman drove her car into the restaurant where we sat dining. We had never been to this place before. We were the first table to be struck, as the wall and ceiling bagan to crash and crumble, and then the car came down in the middle of the dining area. We were all critically and sriously injured; our 4-yr old daughter, Teagan was killed. Another mom lost her life as well, and we have had lasting pain, challenges and heartache as a result of this woman's actions. She has never shown remorse. It hasn't been easy...our youngest daughter at that time, received a closed head injury, and she is now 6, but has yet to speak.
My husband did a telephone interview from his hospital room the very night of this incident, and said we forgive the driver. We had no idea she had done this intentionally, and it was and sometimes still is a process for me to choose to forgive. Yet, in all this, our literally, shattered hearts and lives, God has been at work in us and through us.
In fact, the last song we sang in our church service that Sunday morning was 'Holiness'. One of the verses we sing the words, "Brokenness, brokenness is what I long for. Brokenness is what I need..."
I remember thinking, "No it isn't! People want wholeness...in America we live to have it altogther...that's what people want." I even looked around and made a mental note of 'who was lying' as they sang these words.
I see now that it is EXACTLY what God needs us to be- broken in every way, so that He can do His work and be glorified as He pieces our lives back together.
I have not always 'liked the way' God has chosen to use me; people have watched us live out our faith (which, I don't know how people live out struggles in this world WITHOUT faith!), and some think my husband and I are so strong. I have simply handed the broken pieces of my life to God and said, "Here. You take them and hold them, because I'm too weak." We have looked for opportunities to see good come from our tragedy because it has been so painful, that we needed something to come from it to give us purpose and meaning in life again.
I can tell you, God has more than heard our cries. That longing- to 'live Christ in the community' was more than answered...to the point it was overwhelming at times. Reporters called US asking for us to share our story, we've done radio and newsprint, and tv- including the Oprah Winfrey Show. God has opened doors, and as I said, I haven't always liked His ways...I wouldn't want anyone to have to go through such pain and sadness...yet I sometimes find myself feeling 'guilty' because God has blessed us in our sorrow. Some of our family and friends struggle with us and the way our faith has grown and is undeniable in our lives.
I knew God and loved Him before all this, but I don't think I really 'needed Him' as I have everyday since tragedy struck. And now I see so much more clearly, that there is more to life than what I had thought before. I truly appreciate my 'ordinary, routine quiet life' that so many people take for granted, or get hung up on the 'wrong stuff'. Our American society has it so wrong and twisted at times. I now struggle with what the world has to offer. I am torn now, that I am 'stuck here' in a world so broken and that has so little to offer what my heart longs for. I know that God can and will use me...but my longing for Heaven and to live in communion with God is so strong at times.
I also feel much like you do...that there is something more. I have lost so much, yet God has more than blessed me. We have had 2 girls added to our family since the death of Teagan. We live in e nice home in a great neighborhood. We have more than enough food to eat and clothes to wear and running vehicles...and I just can't help but think of Christ. And the sacrifice He was for me...and surely, He didn't die simply for me to live a comfortable, easy life. No. It can't be that...
I think that is what I identify with here in your remarks. I know God has given me opportunities, and He continues to use my pain and story to bring glory to Him. I thank Him for that. Yet, I relate to you as you long for God to reach down and turn your life into 'movie material'. I do know that all God needs is a willing heart- one bent toward Him- so that He can do in us according to His purpose and glory.
In praying and seeking His will, I have learned that God IS faithful. He may not do in us what we hope and wish and long for...but His ways will blow you away, and most likely will 'cost you something'. It goes against what our culture is telling us...making us believe that we deserve money and comforts and 'success'-however you want to define that for your life.
But, I am learning that God is calling us to something radically different. And the funny thing is that simply living a 'real faith' is when others around us can see God. I haven't done anything 'extraordinary' as far as I'm concerned. However, in offering forgiveness, in a world that has nearly forgotten what that means, has allowed God to show Himself to others...and has made my ordinary life something bigger than me.
I am humbled, that God heard my cries in the backyard that summer day, that He heard my cries during my suffering and grief, that He heard my cries and longing for Joy again when I felt all hope was lost, and that He has more than blessed me, that He USES me...it is undeserved, and yet I know it is exactly what He has wanted to do in me for years.
I will pray for you, as you seek God. You obviously have a sensative spirit, and the God I know, has PROMISED to be faithful to complete His work in us. So, while we may not always be able to 'pack a cinema' with the storyline of our lives, as long as our hearts are open and willing, God can and WILL use us. In His ways. In His time. We simply need to be open, and trust Him.
May God bless you...however that may look in your life.

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