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written from World RV Park in Rawlins, Wyoming and featured image is me fixing our pump that broke this week
My favorite definition of a good life story is
A character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it.
If this is the definition of a good story, then it can also be the definition of a good life. If so, why do we spend so much of our lives trying to avoid conflict?
Most of us have goals we’d like to achieve, whether they are material possessions, a big family, or dreams of publishing a book. So according to the definition of a good story, we are characters who want something. It’s the second part of living a good story, the conflict, where we struggle.
We don’t want to experience pain or suffer on the way to achieving our goals. We want to be rich, we just don’t want to make all the necessary sacrifices on the way to a fat bank account.
So we play it safe.
Instead we strive to be “financially stable,” or whatever that means. We want a secure job and to live in a safe neighborhood and hang out with our safe, sane group of friends. Even if we aspire to achieve great things, we spend our entire lives avoiding the dilemmas that would ultimately guide us towards our goals. And when those conflicts inevitably still arise, we treat them like a disaster, instead of what they are:
A chance to grow and become a better person. A chance to live a richer story.
Alyssa and I have a “love” journal. She bought it on our one month date and it was meant to travel across any distances our relationship would venture. She was about to leave for New Orleans and we would spend the next seven months writing letters in it, sending it back to the other, and then repeating the process. This morning I brought it back out and wrote her a letter, even though she’s sitting across the table from me.
I told her to not worry about the unknown and what is to come, because I have faith we will overcome any trials we face. I let her know that I believe God put us on mission during this journey, and that if He brought us into this, He will bring us out. Most importantly, I told her we have a rare opportunity to face trials many people will never experience. Since most people are avoiding trials and we’re facing ours head on, we have a unique chance to grow into better versions of ourselves.
We are facing a lot of conflict. Just to name a few:
- Driving a 20 year old RV, stuff breaks sometimes
- Being within 60 sq. ft of your newlywed spouse for seven months
- Being away from family, friends, and all that we know to be familiar
- Learning new skills in editing and filming
- Being able to balance work and travel
The conflicts and obstacles are many. We’re facing more obstacles right now than we’ve faced in most of our lives. We had it safe, easy, and comfortable. But characters and people don’t grow when situations are ripe and fun. We grow when placed outside of our comfort zone, because it’s in this place we have no choice but to fold or move forward.
This is not only true for humans, it’s true for all things in nature. When we work out, our muscles must reach the point of complete exhaustion in order to finally make progress. Every time we work out they rip apart and then come back stronger. Or when a forest fire tears through and plows a region, it now has the opportunity for more sunlight to reach plants that had otherwise been covered with dense foliage. A new generation of seedlings can now grow.
The evidence is all around us. We see it in young men and women who have overcome harsh childhoods and found wild success. We see it in some of our favorite entrepreneurs who came from rag stories and experienced so much pain on their journey. Most of us want to become the better person but we don’t want to go through the pain in order to get there.
But there is no better story without first enduring a little bit of conflict.