Becoming Chris Kamalski

"There's a Writer outside ourselves, plotting a better story for us" ~Don Miller

Tag: A Million Miles In A Thousand Years

Sunday/Monday: Our Marriage Counselor Made Us Rest.

A powerful maxim of Jesus, interpreted in a modern way via the East London street art graffiti scene.

I’ll keep this short, as of this writing Maxie and I are getting married in just over a week, hosting family and friends from around the world in a few days! Essentially, the amazing marriage counselor we have been meeting with weekly the past few months, who has prayed over us, taught us, and encouraged us to engage our fears and move forward in trust and faith as we join together, took charge in our last session and forced us to rest.

Yes, she forced us to rest.

So, on Sunday, which was the Sabbath after all, we did just that. Maxie and I slept in, spent the morning together watching movies and generally laying comatose on the couch, and generally unplugging from a busy, stressful season of marriage preparation. I can’t even remember what we did that day, it was so wonderful. Suffice to say, sometimes you need a wise voice in your life that simply gives you permission to love yourself enough to stop. To rest, to ponder, to daydream, to let your mind become blank. Rita Malan was that voice in our lives at the end of a busy week, nearing the end of an intensely strenuous season of life.

Maxie and I couldn’t be more grateful.

I was privileged to carry that rest into Monday of the next week, as my monthly afternoon of solitude and silence came due. I headed over to Mohale Rest + Retreat and promptly took a nap yet again! That afternoon, I sat next to a koi pond, trying to open my heart and mind to the reality that I was going to be united in marriage to a deeply amazing South African woman I love more than anything prior in my life. I shook my head at how deeply we have walked through past fear and shame, and still how far we have to go in our respective brokenness. I haven’t always made loving myself easy on Maxie, but she has been faithful, steadfast, and consistent in sacrificially loving me each moment of our relationship. I am so grateful for her.

I read a section of Donald Miller’s newest work called “The Thing About A Crossing,” and was struck by these passages as deeply relevant to the massive event about to unfold in my life’s journey:

“The point of a story is never about the ending, remember. It’s about your character getting molded in the hard work of the middle…you become the character in the story you are living…It’s like this with every crossing, and with nearly every story too. You paddle until you no longer believe you can go any farther. And then suddenly, well after you thought it would happen, the other shore starts to grow, and it grows fast. The trees get taller and you can make out the crags in the cliffs, and then the shore reaches out to you, to welcome you home, almost pulling your boat onto the sand” [Donald Miller, A Million Miles In A Thousand Years].

Maxie has been this for me in our story…pulling me forward to the best reality I can ever imagine. Our shore is reaching out to us, welcoming us to make a home in each other, pulling us forward from paralyzation to new, unified life as one couple. I for one cannot wait for June 4!

(Each day this week I will post a story or reflection about some aspect of my work and life that our missional community, NieuCommunities South Africa, is currently engaged in here in Pretoria. I’ll simply attempt to answer the questions, ‘What does a week in my life look like? while framing that within the larger question of ‘What stories are you co-writing with God in South Africa, and how does this story fulfill your unique mandate to apprentice South African leaders in the way of Jesus into sustainable mission around the globe?’)

Fighting Having Nothing To Say.

I have been silent for far too long. Stuck in my head, chaotic thoughts swirling around, transitional moments experienced and then lost again and again. A fleeting second of inspiration wasted away as I chose to watch more TV. An irregular rhythm at best, flailing self-absorbption at worst. I know I am more than this, that my better self dwells within this shell that seems to be meaninglessly passing the days away.

Of course: Critical things were happening. I moved to the bottom of the world semi-permanently. I was raising full-time support to pursue missional endeavors of great importance and high value. I had to remember how to drive manually on the left side of the road, for goodness sakes!

And yet: Something is missing. A Large Something (Christ in me?) is obscured. I am not myself, for He is not Himself in my self. It’s time for change.

“I’m not writing a book. I’m not talking about a book. I’m talking about me. I don’t think I’m telling a good story.”

“I think you tell good stories. Lots of people think so.”

“I tell good stories in books. I don’t live good stories.”

Jordan poured more milk in his cereal. He was looking at me while pouring the milk. He was squinting his eyes a little and furrowing his brow. He stopped pouring the milk. He kept looking at me for ten seconds or more, like he was studying me.

“You’re right,” he finally said. “You aren’t living a good story.”

“That’s what I was saying.”

“I see,” he said.

“What do I do about that?”

“You’re a writer. You know what to do.”

“No, I don’t.”

Jordan looked at me with his furrowed brow again. “You put something on the page,” he said. “Your life is a blank page. You write on it.”

[Block quote from Donald Miller’s masterpiece, A Million Miles In A Thousand Years, pp. 92-93].