I believe in the power of story.
As a young girl, I tumbled into the beauty of a good book…felt the pull like quicksand–blissfully sinking deep into the pages, becoming part of the story.
These tales of adventures and happy endings incited my imagination, transcended my small world.
I still get lost in the world of fiction from time to time–have been known to stay up all night to get to the end of a rich tale.
But last night, I was challenged to step out of the pages of the book and start living a beautiful story of my own.
A friend and I made the long trek to Cincinnati to hear Donald Miller speak yesterday.
I’m so glad we did.
I’ve admired Don’s work for several years (some of you may remember this disaster inspired by Blue Like Jazz). I’ve listened to several of his podcasts, visited his blog, and followed him on twitter. But seeing him in person was such a privilege.
The show (show? What do you call such a thing? Program?)–the program was opened up by an amazing lady named Susan Isaacs.
She presented material from her book, Angry Conversations with God. It was based on the premise that, if our relationship with God is a marriage…she thought they needed to go to marriage counseling. She was funny and provocative and shared some deeply moving stories.
Then Don came on.
He speaks much as he writes: smart, funny, insightful, challenging. I could go on and on.
It was a blast.
I felt like I was back in college and Don was my favorite professor.
He inspired me.
Don doesn’t cut Christians any slack. He called us on some of the worn-out rhetoric that has no Biblical basis. He challenged some of our tired out ways of thinking. Ways that have never worked. And maybe even hurt.
I felt my mind expanding…my world growing. Just as it did all those years ago when I buried myself in the books.
One thing he said that keeps ringing in my ears is this:
I would love to see people of faith tell beautiful stories with their lives.
Don has been pouring his energies into a new ministry: The Mentoring Project. Maybe you’ve heard of it. Maybe you haven’t. If not, read about it here. This man’s heart is truly invested in this cause. And I understand. One cannot work with middle school children today and not feel the importance of mentorship. There are so many kids in need of an adult to lead the way for them. So many kids that just need to know someone cares.
I was blessed to join with Don in supporting his ministry with the Mentoring Project. Because of this, I was in a small group of people that met briefly with him backstage. He signed our books and graciously answered questions. But I was all tongue-tied. Shaky inside. I flubbed up my chance to say something witty and impressionable. But he didn’t mind. He posed for a picture with me anyway.
What a guy.
Tammy and I left, sort of in a daze–not wanting to leave Don behind. We ran to Jungle Jim’s– this sort of grocery store playground–grabbed a couple six packs and headed back to the hotel. (No, we weren’t going to drink that much, but we have different tastes. Tammy is a stout girl–loves her dark beers. And I must have my hops. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale please.)
Back at the Hampton, we held our little plastic cup and just looked at each other. There was no after party. No gang to hang out with. We’re too old for such things, I guess.
But we didn’t want the night to end. Didn’t want to let go of this feeling.
So we did the best we could. We both started reading Don’s new book: A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.
We read. And read.
Then we discovered that Pride and Prejudice was on the Women’s Entertainment channel (WE). Oh that Mr. Darcy. (sigh) Couldn’t pass by that story.
So we read during commercials.
All night I kept thinking.
I just wish I had said thank you. Thank you, Don, for sharing your story and your gift. You have inspired me and countless others (including my 10 and 12 year old who followed the journey through painted deserts and cackled at the adventures you fell into with Paul).
And, just this: Your story is beautiful. And you inspire others to pursue a beautiful story.
Thank you. Thank you.
And God bless you.