Take a moment to think of a really good story. Allow yourself to reflect on that story and look for how it has inspired you. Can you see the characters in your mind? Where does the story take place? What is the moral of the story? How does the story impact you to be better?
For me, the story that comes to my mind is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. This story takes place in Andalusia, Spain. It’s main character is a young man named Santiago who is a shepherd. The story is about Santiago having recurring dreams to find buried treasure near the pyramids of Egypt. His conflict is that he doubts himself, but he meets people along the way who help him realize his dream. In the end, he finds his treasure and, in the process, true love. This story has truly changed my outlook on how goals are accomplished.
I now understand that when I am close to accomplishing my goals, signs will pop up indicating to me when my goal is going to be attainable. Coelho refers to our goals more like a destiny, even a spiritual purpose. He calls goals “personal legends.” The story teaches us that when we decide to strive for our personal legend, “… all the universe conspires in helping [us] to achieve it.” In other words, you have to go through the mist of darkness in order to get to the tree of life.
The challenges that we face in route to our goals become omens or signs that we are close to achieving it. Think about it. Think about a time where you really wanted to achieve something. The more you tried, the harder it got. In fact, the harder it got, the closer you were to achieving it.
And so it is with the gospel. When we decide to change, the world gives us opposition, which in turn propels us to change. 2 Nephi 2:11 states “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things.” However, as a result of opposition, The Lord teaches us in Ether 12:27 that the things that weaken us will, in time, make us strong if we have faith in Him and turn our will over to Him.
So let's take a moment to reflect on your personal legend. How is it currently going? Is your story compelling? Is the setting where it should be? Do you, the main character, have good arc, meaning have you developed or grown in your story? Has your story resolved by accomplishing your personal legend? Or are you stuck in conflict? Have you met an exemplar, who has helped you in times of need? Is your story progressing in a good line or is it going in circles? Is your story going to have a good ending?
Camille M. Johnson, Primary General President in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, suggests that we should invite the Lord to be the author of our personal stories. She states, “Because He knows our potential perfectly, He will take us to places we never imagined ourselves…He will stretch us and refine us to be more like Him. The things we will achieve as we act with more faith will increase our faith in Jesus Christ.”
Imagine if we allowed the Lord to author our life story. Imagine how amazing our characters can develop with His help. Imagine the conflicts we can resolve. Imagine how legendary the ending will be. Inviting Jesus to be the author of your story allows you to grow in unexpected ways. Jesus is not writing you as a character in a nursery rhyme. He is writing you as the heroic protagonist of an epic novel series, one with many adventures that will inspire all who take the time to read your story.
So what stops us from turning our stories over to Him? Sister Johnson states, “we choose to stick with the narrative we have written for ourselves, a comfortable version of our story unedited by the Master Author.” I believe that most of us often disallow the Lord to author our stories because we usually have “plans.” Oftentimes we allow our “plans” to take priority over the development of the big picture. It’s good to have plans, but we must remember that it is because of His plan we are all here.
This is the main message found in the Tale of the Three Trees. This traditional folktale is about three trees who individually aspire to become specific things. The first tree has a dream to be the most beautiful treasure chest in the world. The second tree dreams to be a strong sailing ship that travels mighty waters and carries powerful kings. The third tree simply wishes to grow up so tall that when people look at her they will raise their eyes to heaven and think of God. The trees grow in stature until they are all cut down. When the trees are each cut down we find out that their dreams to become certain things are different than they planned for. The first tree is made into a feedbox. The second tree is made into a fishing boat. And the third tree is made into lumber. The three trees are, of course, upset about their outcomes until they are given a view of God’s purpose for them.
The first tree who was made into a feedbox becomes a treasure chest after all. For he is the feedbox that holds the greatest treasure in the world, the Son of God who was born in a manger. The second tree who was made into a fishing boat eventually becomes a strong ship that travels mighty waters and carries the king of kings. For he is the ship that Jesus was on with the Apostles when He calmed the tempest. The third tree who was made into lumber actually did cause people who saw her think of God. For she is the lumber that is made into the cross that Jesus was crucified on.
So how do you let the Lord be the author of your story? Simple, let go and let God. Make plans, make goals and go after them. But remember, [God’s] thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways [His] ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are [His] ways higher than your ways, and [His] thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
I know that when we allow the Savior to be the author of our stories, the outcomes are above and beyond what we can plan for. I have seen it in my own personal story. I am grateful to know that the Savior is willing to help us write our own personal stories. I am grateful that He cares enough for us to develop us into legendary protagonists. He is the Master and thus only authors masterpieces.