Deviations from the Script

During my senior year of high school, our English teachers assigned us to write the script for the next 10 years of our lives. The plan was for our advisors to return our writings to us at our 10-year reunion (I actually wrote two versions because I couldn’t commit to just one vision for my life!).

This past Sunday John Tiller was the guest speaker at National Community Church. Seven years ago his family experienced a tragedy when their 3-year-old son, Eli, fell out of the second story window onto their asphalt driveway. While Eli survived, he suffered pretty serious brain damage.

Their lives have seriously deviated from the script he had written for them. He spoke of how, in times of tragedy, people return to what they know in their lives. He said that we make a few major decisions in our lifetimes: where we’ll go to college, what we believe, who or if we’ll marry. We then spend the majority of our time living out and managing those decisions. You can listen to his whole talk here, and Eli shares a few words at the end and sings. It is such a testimony to Eli’s faith.

While the main point of John Tiller’s talk was about how we respond when our lives deviate from the script, I realized I needed to start by taking an account of the scripts I’ve already written.

While we never had a 10-year high school reunion, I remember what I wrote and I know life has turned out differently than I’d planned. So far, actual life is far better than imagined life: I became a Christian, I’ve had countless adventures, and I married a man I couldn’t have dreamed of at that time.

That was a high school exercise, and while I haven’t actually written it all down again I know I’m still writing scripts. A script for a marriage that will look a particular way (from now until the end of time); a script for a job where I’ll be able to accomplish certain things and people will respond to me in a certain way; a script that the book I’m writing will be received with a specific type of attention.

It’s a good thing to plan and to dream. But it’s not a great thing if we aren’t prepared to improvise when life goes off script. I want to be honest with myself, and with God, to leave room for these unplanned deviations.