August 5, 2014


Every good story starts with conflict.

If you want to tell a good story, start with a conflict. If there’s no conflict, nothing can happen in your story because ... well, there’s nowhere to go, nothing to do - because everything is great already. Think of your favorite stories, the ones that grabbed you the minute you started reading or listening to or watching them. Whether you’re a die-hard sci-fi nerd, passionate about historical fiction, or deeply into romance novels (we’ll pray for you), you’ll find that every good story has a conflict to be resolved.

No protagonist (hero) ever lives in reaction to life, as if things simply happen to her. This is in spite of good evidence that we have no control over our circumstances - the time I hit a patch of ice on a highway and totaled my car, the time my employer couldn’t afford to pay me anymore and I lost my job, the time my computer was stolen, the fact that I have flat feet. It’s times like these that we tend to fear the most. It’s the stuff I can’t control that leads me to buy things like lots of insurance, expensive security measures, special shoes, in an effort to make myself feel like I have control again.

But scripture tells us that we have a choice in how to live our lives; in fear, or with courage. Yes, some things are out of our control, but we can absorb that, we can roll with it, we can make the best of a world that seems chaotic and hard. We can choose to be victims, letting things make us angry and bitter and resentful … reactive … or we can lean into life, push forward, making the best of our circumstances and learning to anticipate, absorbing the difficulties as challenge to be creative … proactively

Good stories, healthy stories, have an abundance of conflict, because they also have an abundance of resolution, redemption, reconciliation. The stories we love find people coming together not because the people suddenly were happy with each other, as if love simply happens, but because they took the initiative with each other and refused to let the hard stuff - the stuff that wasn’t their choice - keep them from that reconciliation. Our heroes lean forward towards a happy ending, as if that ending were something to expect despite evidence to the contrary. They trust the ultimate outcome to something bigger than themselves.

Heroes live in faith.

Which means that heroes act proactively. In fact, one might say that good relationships, the ones that last, can only last because they've gone through conflict and handled it well. When someone angers a hero, the hero doesn’t simply react, become bitter and resentful; that wouldn’t make a good story. Instead, a good hero, the ones we admire and respect, the ones who we name our kids for, those heroes act forward; they zealously seek reconciliation. They find those that have wronged them and redeem the relationship.

Because good stories aren’t made in the status quo.

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