On Living and Examining
We’ve all heard this famous quote by Socrates, maybe even used it in messages: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Robert McKee, in his book about screenwriting called Story, has a new twist that I love. “The unlived life is not worth examining.”
The unlived life. Is your life unlived? Do you ever feel like a powerless spectator, passively watching your days unfold, not wholeheartedly present? It’s time to step out of the sidelines and truly live the storyline God wrote just for you. Enjoy it, taste it, experience all of it - the joys and the sorrows. Take time to reflect on it and record it in your journal.
My husband and I are moving in 13 days. Right now, for me to live my life means taking time out – away from the busyness and the people – to feel the sadness. I won’t allow myself to gloss over it.
Writers can’t be reclusive. You must experience life and look it squarely in the face in order to write about it. According to writer Cyril Connolly, "Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self."
However you do it best, be sure to live your life and examine it. And please, don’t use the tired excuse that you’re an extrovert. Even extroverts need to pull away to think and evaluate and meditate. In Psalm 139:23 David said, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.”
In no time, I’ll bet you will find something worth sharing. After all, the God of the Universe is at work in your life. How can there not be a story begging to be told? A story that will help someone else, causing them to know that another has traveled their way before and made it. A story with words that will give hope and courage, strengthen their faith, hearten them, make them laugh, release pent-up tears to cleanse and heal.
This week, the world will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall being torn down. I get goose bumps remembering how I felt at that time. One miraculous act of God after another occurred that fall of 1989, as Poland, Hungary, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and finally, Romania shook off their oppressive regimes.
I decided to write my book because someone needed to record what life was like in those lands emerging from the shadow of the Iron Curtain. I believed that God’s amazing deeds at that time in history should not be forgotten. My dream was to encourage women like you, women who can relate because you’re doing the same work I did then. I hoped to make you laugh and cry and marvel and to strengthen your faith so you wouldn’t give up, so you’d know your life and your ministry matter.
Whether your journal is for you or for the world, consider the words of Chilean novelist Isabel Allende: "Write what should not be forgotten…"
What About You?
Have you ever felt like a spectator to your own life? How can you live it more fully? Tell us how you examine your life. How frequently do you take time to reflect? Where do you go to do this?
Think of a life experience you’ve had that should not be forgotten. Sketch it out in writing. Over the next few weeks, we’ll fine-tune those rough drafts and share them with each other at a later date. How about a contest to vote on our favorites in a month or so?