Living A Better Story

Last year my friend Lindsey Nobles kept telling me I should read Donald Miller’s book A Million Miles In A Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life. Well, I finally did… and I loved it. But before I get into why I loved it, I should tell you a couple of things about my reading habits.

  1. I love to read, but my best times to read are when I travel. I seem to be able to focus without having to deal with much distraction at all. If it’s a long weekend of flying around the country, even better – more time for me to read.
  2. I’m purposefully late to the game on some things in my life. When I first heard about Donald Miller, everyone I knew was reading Blue Like Jazz. Then one night in Denver at a music industry showcase, I got to meet Donald Miller backstage. He was funny and completely engaging. Plus he is friends with my Big Tent band mate, Randy Williams, which provided for a quick prank call to Randy’s voice mail with Donald’s humor all over it.

So… here I am. I have finally read a Donald Miller book and the one I read first was exactly the book I needed to read. Here’s why:

I travel a lot and because I do, I meet all kinds of people from all walks of life. Somewhere along my own journey I heard a phrase that has stuck with me… Everyone has a story.

It’s true isn’t it? Some people have these great stories about the journey of their life. But others… not so much.

Then there is the immediate story. The one you don’t know, the one you don’t see… all in the one that stands right in front of you. You might know them, you might have just met them, you might have just done business with them, you might be standing there not paying attention and say absolutely nothing to them or in my case as I write this post… I might be sitting next to them on a flight.

That person has a story they are living out right as we speak. Whether they realize it or not… it could be a tough story of life or one of happiness and success… All the same… It’s a story and it’s unfolding.

In all of my travels and meeting different people, I sometimes look at who I am and wonder… Am I really living out my story well? Am I even living? Do I know that my life is truly worth living? And not just living for me… but living in such a way to encourage others to live their lives well… or better?

You see… I’m all about a person’s story. It’s what makes us unique. It brings a certain character and flavor into our voice, our decisions, our relationships and the way we interact with life.

As I read the book, I wondered in and out of Donald’s story feeling inspired for different reasons to make the most of the opportunities I have in my life. But the greatest take-a-way I had was this.

My story has many chapters. With each chapter come new characters, twists and turns. My story is mine to live, mine to own and mine to grab a hold of and not let go. And all I could think was…

I’m ready to live a better story for myself. I want to live a better story. I’m going to live a better story.

As I finished Donald’s book, my flight was literally coming in on approach into Portland, Oregon while finishing the last page. (Fitting since it’s where Donald lives.)

Donald… Thanks. Thanks for having such a great way with your words, your humor and for telling a great story. Most importantly, thank you for continuing to live a better story and telling us about it… the good times and the bad.

I loved your book.


Question: Thoughts on living a better story?


The views expressed here are those of a personal nature and do not reflect the corporate view of my employer or anyone else who employee my services.
  • Doug G

    This was such a great book…I read through it twice and plan on buying for my little library. We all have such unique stories and experiences and it’s those experiences that can impact so many…in positive and encouraging ways!

    • Spence Smith

      So true Doug. Our stories can have such a positive impact on us. Thanks for the comment!

  • Lindsey Nobles

    About time… :)

    • Spence Smith

      I knew you would like that:) thanks for nudging me again and again;)

  • Hans Schiefelbein

    Glad you finally read the book! What an inspiration, right? I thought it was the perfect balance of inspiration and challenge to tell a better story. “Story” is how we get things of meaning across. It’s engaging and thus is more likely to produce results.

    • Spence Smith

      very inspiring! i think you are right… story is how we get things of meaning across. thanks for the comment!

  • Jason Wert

    I want to live one so badly. I just don’t know where to begin to write it.

    • Spence Smith

      just don’t stop. I know you are trying…

  • Sarah Markley

    That book totally changed my life last year. And still affects me.

    I should reread i think. =)

  • Sarah Markley

    That book totally changed my life last year. And still affects me.

    I should reread i think. =)

    • Spence Smith

      you live your life well sarah.

  • not2old2bike

    I think you hit the nail squarely on the head…everyone indeed does have a story…the guy beside you on the plane…your food server…the homeless…etc. The bigger question is will you choose to engage and become a part of the bigger story which is the one still being written or will you choose to miss amazing opportunities right under your nose. It’s a wake up call for all of us. I am glad you finally got to read this poignant book.

    • Spence Smith

      thanks. i really enjoyed how it revealed some parts of me i needed to evaluate. So… that guy sitting next to me… I was actually a little nervous to say anything because the videos were a little crazy:)

  • Tom Martin

    Great post! I enjoyed your thoughts on the immediate story. Last week, using the same book as a reference, I wrote about how we all have plots and sub-plots making up the story our lives are telling, it’s up to us to turn those into a better life story. For me this was a huge Paradigm Shift!

    • Spence Smith

      Thanks tom. I appreciate that.

  • Julie Kolb

    This may be my favorite post of yours!…Anyone who knows me personally will tell you I LOVE LIFE…I embrace the lows just as much as the highs…Why?, cause I choose to FEEL…I choose to take “things” to the core of my being…To me, that is living…All of those “things” make my story….And just when I think it can’t get crazier, it DOES….As for the “better” part of your story, may I add the quote “When you know better, do better”…Love that quote and it encourages me to write and even more meaningful story…May it do the same for you….

    “The rest is still unwritten” ~ Natasha Bendinfield, Unwritten

    • Spence Smith

      thanks julie! you are always so full of life! i’m sure your friends and family love that about you.

  • Sharlene Sones

    Love this post. Realizing “we are the stories we tell” is really a big thought — and knowing we are the owners of a big, fat red pen to make edits and reshape it as desired is empowering! I truly believe that each person’s story is what makes them unique and different. As different as our fingerprints. And, the understanding that we have a role in God’s story just waiting for us is pretty awesome. A story within a story. :)

    Oh yeah, and this works pretty well for entrepreneurs and brands too, I’ve heard… LOL. Great post, Spence!

    • Spence Smith

      HA!!! you are the branding through story queen:) thanks for the comment!

  • Sebrina

    I think living a better story means taking a risk. Doing something different. Doing something that maybe not a lot of people are doing.

    I think the best stories happen over time. The stories that make us laugh are short anecdotes from a day…but the stories that change us are stories of days, weeks, months of embracing the ups and downs of life…

    • Spence Smith

      Yep… i would agree. taking risks, doing something different… it’s all part of living a better story. I think those times really stretch me. but you are right… the stories that change us are stories over days, weeks, months… all through the ups and downs. Thanks for the comment!

  • Nette

    I just ordered the book today, before I came across your blog. I’m intrigued and anticipating this book of DM’s to be a great read–I have many friends who have loved this book and encourage everyone they know to read it.
    Without having devoured it yet, I do have a question that comes to mind after reading your take–also in light of a common topic hit on by the church recently– we keep talking about the importance of OUR story… I’m wondering if we need to beware the self centeredness or self promotion that could come from this and easily lose sight of the story of Christ that we are to share…what do you think? Is there a danger here?

    • Spence Smith

      I suppose there could be people that get so wrapped up into their own story that they forget their relationship with Christ in all of this… however, I think that’s the beauty of this book is that a relationship with Christ is part of the story.. it’s part of the journey. I know it is for me and my life.

      I think our story is important. For me it gives context to why I need Christ in my life and when it comes to my story… i’m always wanting to encourage people to do more than the think they could ever do for others and for themselves.. to be influencers… examples… people who even if they change the life of just one person, they helped bring change into someone’s life. I see it as something God gives us- as an opportunity to live our story in a way that helps bring change and brings people into a relationship with Christ or a better relationship with Christ.

      In the end.. I think you pose an important question. the balance is there.. it can be there… but i think if we are believers living a better story then others will see the value Christ has in our lives.

      Thanks Nette.

  • Allison B.

    I loved Donald’s book too. It inspired me to pull all of the “it would be so great to …” ideas from the back of mind and to ask myself “why not now?” I love the momentum that doing new things creates in each of our stories too. The more I experience the feeling of really living my life, the more I want to add to my personal story. Pure awesomeness. :-)

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