Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Choose Your Own Adventure

Have you guys heard of Donald Miller? He’s this guy who wrote some books one time. He also has a twitter, and recently he tweeted this:


It’s so cool God lets us choose our own adventure.

I can’t stop thinking about this.

Since this whole Los Angeles debacle started, I have grown increasingly frustrated with all things related to my faith. I majored in film at school with the idea in mind that I would move out to California and become a TV writer. Now I’m here. Half the battle, according to sources, is just being here. I’ve already made it farther than so many others do. Hooray for me.

So why don’t I want it anymore? I thought God was the one who gave me that desire in the first place, I thought he was the one who was leading me out here. And I thought this was going to make me happy. I thought I was going to feel fulfilled just by being here.

That feeling never came. I just felt far away. From everything. /emo

I’ve been trying very diligently to not get upset with God through all of this, due to what I’ve up until now perceived as his oh-so-hilarious method of getting me to realize that this isn’t what I’m supposed to be doing and my grand purpose lies elsewhere! (“All of this” being, specifically, moving out here, spending all my money and more of my parents’ money, being lonely and sad, paying too much for gas, and sleeping on an air mattress for three months.)

There is a path to things that I can sort of see, where this led me to that which let me to over there where I met those people, and I wouldn’t backtrack any of it. I just wish now, in hindsight, that I hadn’t decided to come out to California. Just that one thing I wish I could change. And I’ve been very annoyed with God for letting me go through with that.

It’s so cool God lets us choose our own adventure.

I remember before I got into this screenwriting program I’ve been in, I informed my parents that my backup plan if I didn’t get in was grad school, where I wanted to get my masters in Sports and Entertainment Marketing. I had already done the research and marveled at how much cheaper a state school degree was going to be than the private school education I’m going to spend the rest of my life paying for. My parents were (and are, always) supportive of me pursuing this (which is great considering I am about to move back into their house to do so).

And I remember, briefly, feeling like maybe grad school would be a better use of my time than the California thing. But I pushed that idea away because that’s not what you’re supposed to do, Sarah! That’s not what GOD wants you to do!

Well, six months later, I’m pretty confident that I don’t really know what God wants me to do. I DO know that he doesn’t want me to be miserable, and that’s what I’ve been since I opted for “MOVE TO CALIFORNIA, TURN TO PAGE 47.”

I used to love those Choose Your Own Adventure books in elementary school. We were all obsessed with them, and I know everyone in my class had read all the ones the library had by the time we left for middle school (though I can’t say I remember what any of them were now, a million years later). I haven’t seen one of these books in forever, so I looked them up and found a huge list of all of them. Some of the summaries are pretty priceless (these aren’t official summaries, they were written by the person who put the list together):

BY BALLOON TO THE SAHARA: You travel from France to Africa in a balloon, accompanied by your friends Peter and Sarah and a dog named Harry.

YOU ARE A SHARK: Your hike through Nepal leads you into a forbidden temple. As punishment for your intrusion, you must survive in the forms of several different animals in order to earn your freedom.

TROUBLE ON PLANET EARTH: You and your psychic brother Ned investigate the disappearance of all of Earth's oil.

SEASIDE MYSTERY: Your boring summer is enlivened somewhat by the involvement of a mermaid.

1. Not a very creative title; also, a dog named Harry? Really? Also, I hope nothing bad happened to Sarah at any point in that book.
2. That happens to me all the time when I’m hiking through Nepal. They should really make those forbidden temples harder to get into if hapless tourists can just stumble inside and get turned into sharks.
3. I wonder if Ned can also make pies and touch dead people to bring them back to life?

(I may or may not have paused in writing this post to read through that entire list. Time well spent, to be completely honest with you.)

The thing with these books though – there were always tons of endings, and you never just read through them once. I know I would always leave my finger marking a page I wanted to go back to and see what would happen if I went the other direction. We always had to know what would happen if we’d done that other thing, and with these books, we always got to find out.


When you’re reading a Choose Your Own Adventure book, you aren’t “supposed” to pick going up the dark path into the forest over walking down to the haunted beach. You can do both. If one choice ends badly (in, say, a grisly death of some kind), you just go back to where you started and pick the other one.

What I realized tonight when I saw that tweet from Donald Miller is that I shouldn’t be upset with God for “letting” me move out here when that wasn’t what I was “supposed” to do with my life. I think this was just me holding my finger on that page. I picked “MOVE TO CALIFORNIA” to see what would happen. It didn’t work out the way I wanted to, so now I’m going back to “STAY IN COLORADO” and see where that leads me.

I think God lets us choose our own adventure not because he wants us to learn things the hard way, like I was sort of believing for a while, but because he doesn’t want us to have regrets. You try to do something, it doesn’t work out – it’s okay. There’s always another beginning.

It’s not about God having some set path that I am required to follow in order to properly fulfill his purpose for my life. God’s not so small that he can’t use me wherever I am, whatever I’m doing. Wherever I am, that’s where I’m “supposed” to be.

Actually, scratch that – there’s no such thing as supposed. There’s just alive. And that’s enough.

It’s so cool God lets us choose our own adventure.


  1. This post is amazing. I may have to advertise it. Fair warning.

    And OMG, Sarah. I HAVE the Balloon to Sahara book. I totally do. In the olden days (aka first grade), I had a little boy friend named Ian who was, in case you don't remember me telling you this, Canadian and he had red hair and an awesome accent. For my sixth birthday, Ian gave me an awesome brooch with a painted animal on it and a Choose Your Own Adventure book called "Balloon to Sahara." I still have both. The story is awesome. The best part is when you choose to look in the caves and you discover the secret labs by the ocean. I always choose to go in there, even though I know that they're doing experiments on people or whatever. Every time. It's like I'm a glutton for human experimentation.

  2. This is some good stuff right here. Well said, Sarah, well said.