053 If You Were to Write Your Life into a Short Story, What Would it Say? Here’s Mine

Picture: eflon (Flickr, creative commons)

When you’re an author doing media for your latest book (got the freebies yet?), it’s always an honour to have a journalist or broadcaster take time to craft questions that reach beyond the press release. That’s what Amy Boucher-Pye did for me recently in preparation for a magazine feature (ps: check out Amy’s new book too). ‘What spiritual practices do you hold dear?’ she asked. ‘How do you let go of a broken dream?’ ‘How do you personally hear God speak?’ I love these kinds of questions.

Then Amy asked something that sent me to my journal for a few hours before I could answer. The funny thing was, it was a question she drew from my own book. Having done this little exercise, I’m convinced it’s one that could help you too.

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My Life in Two Versions

My new book Resilient is made up of 90 readings and each concludes with two reflection questions to help you process the content. The final reading has this question at the end: If you were to write your life into a short story, what would it say? This is what Amy asked me.

I’ve done other exercises like this and had attempted an answer to this before, but couldn’t find it in my journals. So I did it again. The exercise reveals what you think is most important, where you find your ultimate sense of meaning, what gifts you think you have (and don’t have) and where your current path is taking you. It also reveals your ‘ideal’ versus your ‘real’ self. Each of us has a ‘super’ us we’d like to become – an us that is shaped by Hollywood and other myths. An us that is unlikely to appear.

And so I wrote two short stories for Amy, just to get the ideal version out of the way.

What would your story/ies say?

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What I’d Like My Story to Say

The once shy boy with blond hair and few friends grew up to become a champion of faith, a beacon of light, a font of insight, a (humble) success. When he spoke, heaven opened. When he wrote, angels wept. People hung on his every word. Wisdom flowed from his lips, love emanated from his soul, miracles fell from his fingertips, and every hardship he met he faced with confidence and tenacity. Respected by many, loved by all, he died at peace leaving a legacy of faith and writings that went on to inspire generations to come.

What May be Closer to Reality

The once shy boy with blond hair and few friends survived the bullies, came to faith in his teens, and went on to play his part in the Story of God. He poured his heart and soul into whatever he did. His success was small, but valued. He loved God in a fumbling, faltering way. He loved others the same—never feeling like he’d quite done enough. In his forties he finally stopped worrying what people thought, stopped fretting about gifts he didn’t have, and learned to rest and play as well as work. By the end of his days he’d seen some disappointments become victories and his little life become significant—because of the cleverness of Jesus. He died flawed but faithful, and loved by those who mattered most—trusting that the things he’d said and the words he’d written had opened some eyes to see the face of God.

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