I attended Donald Miller’s Storyline Conference in Nashville last week. He taught us a lot about the elements of story, character development and plot lines. He also taught us a lot about our own lives.
Donald explained that a “story turn” is an event that happens to a character that cannot be reversed. The character walks through a door and life can never be the same. A “positive story turn” might involve a promotion or meeting a soul mate; a “negative story turn” might involve a divorce or loss of a loved one. Donald illustrates story turns by tracing the story of Joseph in Genesis 37-47 where a negative turn was getting thrown into the well, and a positive turn was interpreting dreams.
It was fun when we were talking about Joseph and his story, but then Donald gave us some time to start recording the negative and positive turns in our own life! In my 57 years I’ve had 16 negative “turns” and 26 positive “turns”; I’m taking it as a good sign that I’ve had more positives than negatives!
When looking at my “storyline”, I had the exact same thought that Donald Miller shared with us: God was with me all the time, (even though I didn’t always recognize it). In my younger years I would have seen the positive events in my life as things that I had earned, the result of my hard work. In the negative “turns”, I would have just tried to get through the pain. But looking back, I can see that God used those negative events in my life to lead me somewhere better and to help me grow.
A few of my positive “turns” include winning the school spelling bee in fifth grade (I knew I was smart), winning the junior club championship in golf (I knew I was athletic), and becoming a healing prayer minister in 2008 (I knew that prayer was the foundation for my life). Examples of my negative “turns” include running away from home when I was 17 (I avoided conflict), having an affair my freshman year of college (I craved attention), and the death of my mother in 1990 (she was my last relative). Curiously, I had “breast cancer in 2006” listed as a “negative turn” but I’ve moved it to my “positive turn” list.
Donald encouraged us to fill out our storyline and share our positive and negative “turns” with family and friends close to us. A dating couple from a previous conference said it was the most valuable thing they had ever done for their relationship: having an in-depth conversation about the events in their lives that had brought them forward to today.
What are the positive and negative “turns” in your story: an event in your life that can’t be reversed? Write down your storyline and share it with a friend.
(For more information about the STORYLINE CONFERENCE: www.mystoryline.net)