On Leaving Storyline


It’s been two weeks since I walked out into Nashville sunshine along with a couple hundred others, every one of us seeking more than the lives we’re constantly sold by a clever media.

Every one of us needing more than the bottle-fed American dream of Volvos and white fences and stock market investments.

Because those don’t factor into my pursuit of happiness.


It’s difficult to judge the effectiveness of a conference.

When a speaker’s onstage, the room is electric, and you’re covered in goosebumps, humming with anticipation.

Donald Miller brought the energy. His humor and humility made it easy to forget his NY Times best-selling author badge, and his insight proved it impossible to forget. Combined with stories from Bob Goff, Jamie Tworkowski, Amy Grant, and other guest speakers, we never had a chance.

The air felt magnetic.

But the true test of an event like Storyline happens when the host waves goodbye. When the doors open out and the attendees stretch their legs, roll their necks from shoulder to shoulder. When they take those first steps outside the building.

Two weeks ago when Donald Miller turned off his microphone and all ages filed down the aisles, I caught something in the crowd.

I caught the hope and excitement written on faces that had before looked weary and worn.

And in the unfiltered sunshine, I caught a great deal of fear, too.

Because Storyline didn’t fill us with sweet stories, leave us with warm fuzzies and high-fives. Instead the two-day course asked us if we’re ready to check out of normal, to sacrifice much, to roll up our sleeves and get dirty in the world.

To be shocked out of our comfort zones and into God’s story.


My grandmother has always said, get out of your comfort zone, and always in a matter-of-fact tone that left me wondering why I hadn’t done it before.

But then comes the paralyzing fear. You know the kind I’m talking about. The type that sets your limbs trembling, your stomach turning, and your feet static.

Multiply that by a million, and now you’re experiencing a bit of what it felt like to sit in an auditorium listening to Miller ask questions like, What if you called an estranged relative? What if you quit your job to write that book? What if you up and moved to Africa?

All things your parents never want to hear.

I squirmed in my seat.

“Storyline is a conference about living a better story. Once you leave here, you’ll likely never see the world the same. It’s not a self-help conference that is going to make you problems go away, though. In fact, after leaving Storyline, you may make decisions that increase the problems in your life. You may make less money and have fewer friends.”

And I’m still squirming now.

Since I walked out into that Nashville sunshine two weeks ago, I’ve made life-altering changes. I’ve increased the conflict in my life. I’ve cannon-balled into a better story, clinging only to my reliance on a larger than life God.

There’s more to come, like all great stories, there is still so much more to come.


What kind of story are you living?