“If the point of life is the same as the point of a story, the point of life is character transformation. If I got any comfort as I set out on my first story, it was that in nearly every story, the protagonist is transformed. He’s a jerk at the beginning and nice at the end, or a coward at the beginning and brave at the end. If the character doesn’t change, the story hasn’t happened yet. And if story is derived from real life, if story is just condensed version of life then life itself may be designed to change us so that we evolve from one kind of person to another. ”
— Donald Miller
(A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life
Every year around this time, I stop and think about how I’ve changed. Usually it’s a way to congratulate myself on how awesome I am, or on how much I accomplished. I always thought I’d changed drastically, that I was a much better person than I’d been the year before, that the previous year had been the best/worst/hardest/most fun. This year? My interest lies elsewhere.
I got to spend last night hanging out with a very dear friend. Sarah and I have known each other our entire lives: Her parents are my godparents, and my dad and her dad were best friends in high school. We grew up together, but we’ve never lived near each other, so we don’t see each other all that often. Our families, however, have extensive traditions dating back to the Jurassic era, so I can always count on seeing them around Christmas.
I hadn’t seen Sarah since I started at Multnomah, and, having recently been accepted into all the schools she applied to, college became the main topic of discussion. She’s facing tough decisions about her future, and the cop-out answers (“You’ll make friends wherever you go.” “Don’t worry, you’ll love it!”) don’t help her any more than they helped me. I told her what I learned during my first semester away from home: It’s hard. Incredibly hard. Academically– the work will be hard. Emotionally– moving away from home is hard. Socially– coming home has made me realize that my friends are now scattered across the country, rather than all in one town like in high school. It isn’t easy. But it’s the most wonderful thing I’ve experienced in my life so far, and I’ve been happier the last four months than I would have dared to dream. God has been showing me Himself more consistently than ever, proving to me over and over and over that He deserves my complete trust. His love is incomparable, and His faithfulness is astounding.
Talking to Sarah showed me something big. I don’t often stop to look at my life from a distance, but when I do, it’s so incredibly clear that I’m living the story God wrote for me. He’s using conflict, character and resolution to transform me, and every day and page to teach me something new.
So this New Year’s, I don’t really care about whether I’m cooler than I was this time last year. I know a lot of things have changed, and I’m so glad they did, but patting myself on the back for getting through them isn’t the focus. I’m realizing that a day isn’t just a day; it’s part of something bigger.
2010 is going to be a good year.