Have you ever seen Seinfeld? It’s a show about nothing. There’s no mother to meet, Ross and Rachel never get together, there’s no theme song…it’s just four people living pretty dull lives in minute detail. The story arcs get ruined because, well because life doesn’t fit into a neat little box. I’ve been appreciating that about Seinfeld lately.
See I read this book by Donald Miller. It’s called A Million Miles in a Thousand Years (and yeah, I bought it solely based on the title. It’s a killer title). It’s all about living the better story. He talks about setting, conflict, climax, and resolution. He talks about how to lean into all those things in your life. How to live a story you’d be proud to tell to God.
I’m sorry, I know modern Christianity and its focus on our stories is helpful to a lot of people, but that’s complete crap. It’s sucking every ounce of life from me. Because my story is never good enough.
I love hearing your stories. I love hearing about the ways God has brought you from dark to light, about the ways He has healed you. I love to hear about the things that are saving you. I want that. I want to have those conversations over cold pizza and drinks. I want to hear your stories.
But I don’t want to call it theology. I don’t want to pretend like every ounce of our lives is full of absolute truth. Because sometimes the little pieces of our lives just happen, and sometimes they don’t make sense. And I’m not trying to live my life according to some chart or standard of awesome.
My life doesn’t fit into your narrative. I’m a twenty two year old girl, and I’m not in love (and for now, I’m okay with that). I’m living in my parents’ garage and I watch a lot of crappy TV. Some days I think everything is getting dramatically better, and other days it’s totally out of control. I learn really slowly, and if you tried to learn a deep lesson from me most days you would end up pontificating about frustration and cheesy Jesus memes.
Every time I try to fit the broken pieces of my life into this mold of how things are supposed to go, I end up with bits left over, and everything is crooked and it doesn’t look at all convincing.
I’m exhausted with trying. I’m exhausted with trying to suck the meaning out of every problem. I don’t always learn a lesson. I don’t have theme music that plays softly as I deliver a corny line about the moral of the story. A lot of days I couldn’t tell you what the moral is (and when I can I end up wrong a lot).
It feels a lot more like Seinfeld than How I Met Your Mother. Every detail doesn’t fit into this narrative leading up to something. Some of the details are just painful and pointless. Other ones are just little pieces of grace to get me through the day. Sometimes I blow it and start over, or backtrack, or just sit there and sulk. And a friend once told me that Seinfeld is a more moral show than Friends, anyway. Because they don’t pretend like the characters are inherently good or that they are coming out on top or triumphing or whatever. They admit that this is a show about shallow, flawed people doing sort of unimportant things.
I will agree with Donald Miller on one point: I don’t think it would be too impressive to sit with God and chat about my story. For one thing, He knows it better than me. But also it’s imperfect and dull and occasionally really painful. But can I be real for a second?
I’m not planning on saying much about myself. I just don’t think I’ll be able to shut up about Jesus. About how He lived this awesome life and died this horrible death. About how the setting was perfect for the birth of a movement centered around the underdogs. About a conflict between life and death. Good and evil. About a climax so suspenseful and churning that the skies broke open and the ground shook. About a resolution that made everything bad come untrue.
We’re extras in this series. But it’s the best freaking show on television. And getting even a tiny part of it is absolutely the most important thing that has ever happened to you. Even if you’re Tim Tebow or whoever (sorry friends. I use him as an example a lot)…it’s bigger than your story. And if you’re talking at all when you meet Jesus, I have a feeling it’s going to be more awe and worship than it is a gripping account of the time you backpacked across Europe or what have you. (and I’m not saying God doesn’t care about your life. And I’m not saying you shouldn’t be seeking His best for your life. What I’m saying is…stop putting so much emphasis and meaning on every little thing. It’s killing you.)
If I’m an extra in this fantastic story about God, I want to be the absolute best extra I can be. But I’m not going to make you watch my five seconds over and over. Because, honestly, it’s not all about me. I’ve been taking myself pretty seriously lately, like telling you about my life will somehow save you. But we’d all do better, I think, if I made a big deal about Jesus, and what HE is doing with my life.