Last month I wrote about us being the main character in our life stories, inspired by my attendance at Donald Miller’s Storyline conference in Chicago, IL. I wrote about the theme of the conference: “Your Story Matters” and how Miller and his cohorts stressed living a great story, helping others and sharing your own spiritual gifts with a broken world. I also shared a bit of Miller’s philosophy; that we are to live great stories by knowing who we are, what we want, what conflict we will need to engage in, and then taking action.
I discussed the “Who I Am” aspect of his philosophy, and now I will elaborate on the “what we want” of it. Miller based his philosophy on some of the work of Vicktor Frankl, a neurologist and psychologist from Vienna, Austria. Frankl worked early in his life alongside Sigmund Freud. They shared similar philosophies on the motivators of men and women, but Frankl’s philosophy differed from Freud’s as he believed that humans are not reacting to selfish instincts, but rather that we want to live with a deep experience of meaning. That is to say that we are not just seeking pleasures, but rather when we cannot find meaning in our lives, we instead numb it with pleasures. Therefore, there is room for God to act in our lives when we search for meaning; we can be fulfilled by seeking a project that serves others or developing intimate, safe relationships. Miller says, “God did not create us in reaction, but as co-creators of a meaningful life.”
It is when you want something that is altruistic, not self-serving and is concerned with others around you, that we benefit. This is true of our favorite characters in books and movies, and especially in the Bible. Would we identify that much with David, although an adulterer and murderer, if he did not seek so steadfastly after God’s own heart? Where would Joseph be if he had decided to blast his brothers for what they had done to him earlier in his story, when they come to him seeking food in Egypt?
Christmas is the best time to remind people of Christ’s benevolent spirit and mission. After all, it is his life we celebrate at this time in the year. Instead of rushing about, getting the best deal on the “it” item for the holidays, why not go beyond our selfish nature instead and seek the poor and needy, in life and spirit, and reach out a kindhearted hand? In this way, we will truly find purpose in our stories.