I’ve fallen in love with Donald Miller lately.
Well, not him exactly, because he seems sorta quirky and weird and would probably really bug me in real life, but his writing… now, that’s amazing stuff.
I have to admit I read Blue Like Jazz with lots of skepticism.
I didn’t want to read it.
As a life-long Church Brat, sometimes I get a little burned out on churchy stuff. I’ve been to church. And mission trips. And camp. And choir tours. And all the latest Bible studies. And taught Sunday School and VBS. And then went to a Baptist University where I majored in … Bible. And so I picked up BLJ at the bookstore more out of bored disinterest, thinking I guess I’ll read this because I don’t have anything better to do at the moment but (sigh) I’m sure its just like some other churchy book I’m sure I’ve read before…
And then I loved it. Loved it. LOVED IT. Surprisingly!
It was so refreshing and different and so lined up with everything I never knew I believed about how the Christian life should be lived.
And so when I saw his book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years on sale for 50% off at the bookstore, I grabbed it, thinking how lucky am I to find this on sale!!!
I wouldn’t say I love this one. I read a few chapters, then left it to gather dust on my nightstand while I moved on to more exciting things.
But I was in a little bit of a funk last night and felt the urge to see if Donald could speak to me. And Donald didn’t disappoint me.
Its no secret that my life has been one series of terribly difficult and painful events over the last few years. If you’ve followed me on this blog, you know the timeline…
2005… bought an 80-year-old, unliveable shack, lacking running water and
electricity, and full of rats. Invested much blood, sweat, and tears
remodeling the house.
2006… second baby born in April…. husband
diagnosed with encephalitis in December and given a 50% chance of surviving.
Still did not have a working kitchen.
2007… husband unable to walk or
talk normally, OR work, for five months.
2009… my youngest child
diagnosed with brain tumor in March. Filed for divorce in November after hiring a private investigator who traced dozens upon dozens of phone numbers found on my cell phone records …
2010… divorced. Learning to juggle being a single mom while working
full-time for the first time in nine years. Much sleep-deprivation.
Like I said. It hasn’t been easy.
The beauty of this book, at least the chapters I read last night, are that it speaks so perfectly to where I am right now, and at least last night when I was feeling really down, it encouraged me and inspired me. The point of the book is the story you are writing with your life…. and unfortunately, there are painful parts in every good story. And I like to hope that all these painful chapters are going to make one really meaningful story in the end.
This week has been hard. Its no encephalitis, no brain tumor, no divorce, by any means, but I was disappointed and a little hurt (ok, a lot hurt) by an abrupt ending to something that made me happy. And Donald’s words were, once again, exactly what I needed.
I loved this paragraph from chapter twenty-six about paddling across a lake, and I hope its ok with Donald that I’m quoting this:
It’s like this with every crossing, and with nearly every story too.
You paddle until you no longer believe you can go any farther. And then
suddenly, well after you thought if would happen, the other shore starts to
grow, and it grows fast. The trees get taller and you can make out the
crags in the cliffs, and then the shore reaches out to you, to welcome you home,
almost pulling your boat onto the sand.
Thanks, Donald, for the reminder that there’s a shore on the other side.
The next chapter, twenty-seven, is about pain. Appropriate.
He talks about this unbelievable bike ride across the United States. Across. The. United. States. A bike ride. In case you didn’t catch that. And I could see some parallels in that excruciating journey.
I knew I had fifty more miles to go, and the miles would be, perhaps, the
most miserable of my life. But in that place, I remembered about story,
about how every conflict, no matter how hard, comes back to bless the
protagonist if he will face his fate with courage. There is no conflict
man can endure that will not produce a blessing. And I smiled. I’m
not saying I was happy, but for some reason I smiled. It hurts now, but
I’ll love this memory, I thought to myself. And I do.
It hurts now.
But I’ll love this memory.