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First Reactions to Donald Miller's A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

The quote I have posted on my Conversant Life profile reads: "[True happiness] is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose." (Helen Keller) ... I thought it was just a nice quote to post on my profile, until I read Donald Miller's new book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. Now I know it's painfully true.

Let me preface this short musing about Don's new book by saying I never read Blue Like Jazz. I'll admit it. So many other people had (or it seemed like it) that book become part of the cultural consciousness for Christians. Whether you had read it or not, you knew what it was about, and how it articulated an entire worldview for an entire generation. I tried to read one of his other books after that, but couldn't get into it.

Miller himself says his life (and writing) stalled after writing Blue Like Jazz. A Million Miles ... is about the journey he took to restart it. I finished the book in one sitting tonight. At first I thought it was a poor man's "Adaptation" (the movie) -- yet another example of a Christian taking something that exists in culture and putting a religious spin on it. I kept reading and got proven wrong, way wrong. And I'm glad I was.

While the writing is about writing (a screenplay based on Blue Like Jazz), it's just a technique that serves as a springboard into the telling of Miller's story itself. Miller masterfully teaches about the concept of story while moving you along his own. This account of living more intentionally – living on purpose and for a purpose – is powerfully convicting. And the dozens of smaller stories his contains supports the idea that we were made for so much more.

I dog-eared dozens of pages starting with 115 to nearly the last one. I twittered that the book is remarkably inspiring, and that I wanted to "enter my story" after having read it. But I think it would be more appropriate to say I want to start living a better story than I have heretofore.

I realize that my own journey of finding focus has been all about this. My life has lacked essential elements of a compelling story because I too often seek pleasure, comfort and self-gratification, when sacrifice and pain are the essential dark shades needed in every work of art. As Miller writes, "It wasn't necessary to win for the story to be great, it was only necessary to sacrifice everything." 

It makes me think of others who are telling similar stories, weaving similar textures into their own narratives. I think of singer/songwriter Sara Groves, who values the "long defeat," the defiance of hope in the face of insurmountable odds. “I can't just fight when I think I'll win,” she says. Or John Evans, a lay minister in my church who visits the local jail each week, teaching and preaching to inmates, and praying with them. And Charysse, a friend of mine's sister, who has been fighting a brain tumor for years with courage and hope, for the sake of her little boys – a woman who's been through hell and says she wouldn't have it any other way.

There's something to this concept of conflict being essential to our stories. If you want to know more about it, Miller's book is a great place to start. As for me, I've got some writing (and living) to do ...

Comments

Great post, Cara. I'm in. I'm mediocre way too often...can't wait to grab this book and be inspired myself...

Thanks, Mike.

I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post

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About
Cara Davis is a writer, editor and the former editorial director for Relevant Media Group. During the past year she has been on a journey of finding a renewed focus for her faith and her life.


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