Author Donald Miller has written a book called Storyline that is intended to help readers understand their purpose in the life that God has given them. Miller begins the book by discussing that God is the author of all life and is writing the story of saving humanity by reuniting them to Himself. After establishing this overarching framework for life, Miller continues to tell about how each individual person gets to choose how he wants to live his life as a subplot in the grand narrative of life. The rest of the book describes the process of how to determine what your life should be about and how to gain clarity in living for that purpose.
I am currently reading and working through the process myself and when I came to the section that about the roles I play in my life these were my initial thoughts: “As I am identifying the roles that God has given me to fill in life, I find myself hesitant to live them fully. I pretend as if they do not exist at times. Other times I find myself trying to focus on roles that are not my primary roles. I have two options: focus on the roles that I know are my God given ones, or find new roles. Finding new roles seems to be quitting on what God has asked me to do so it is not really an option, nor do I have a desire to give up on my given roles. So then the only option is to focus on my primary roles in life.”
After writing that a couple of days ago I would describe my situation as “Sub Plot Stasis”.I have been given specific roles to play in life such as father, husband, and minister. For each of these roles I am working toward specific goals which all coincide with my life theme which is to know God and make Him known. At times it becomes quite easy to get distracted from what my goals are in life. When I observed my recent complacency in fulfilling my roles in life, I began thinking about ways to go about breaking through my complacency. To my frustration I couldn’t muster any good ideas, nor did my prayer yield a miracle dose of motivation. To be clear, I believe the time I spent in prayer was beneficial, it just didn’t produce the motivation that I desired. I was willing to give myself a few days to figure out my lack of motivation because I am still visiting Britt’s family in Mississippi and won’t be returning to work until the next week.
A couple of days after my initial observations, I found myself sitting in the car alone in the parking lot of the church where Britt’s mom Patty works. To be honest, the only reason I didn’t go into the church to join Britt and Patty in introducing Jonah to Patty’s coworkers was that I had ripped the seat of my pants and didn’t want to look like a fool (real life, real problems). Admittedly I wasted most of my alone time looking at Facebook and Twitter, but in the last five minutes of my time in the car I resolved my Sub Plot Stasis and renewed my motivation. What was the secret that helped me in this break through? Nothing, literally nothing. I stopped mapping out the next steps I needed to take in achieving my goals. I stopped thinking about “what if” scenarios. I stopped talking and interacting with people and media. I rolled down the window and I enjoyed the sunlight and the breeze and I relaxed alone. I don’t think there was anything special about the breeze, but the result of my time alone was a renewed desire to return to the work that God has laid out for me.
It might seem a little backwards and I’m not prescribing it for all instances, but for this time the thing that helped me push past my complacency and stasis was taking a break to relax and enjoy the breeze that God had given me. No big revelations or paradigm shifting epiphanies were needed- just a moment to relax. This isn’t a surprise though, after all one of the major commandments that God gave His people in the Bible was to commit an entire day to this every week. Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.