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I’m really just an extra

January 26, 2010

God’s been blowing my mind a bit lately. Yesterday was the beginning. Here’s what came next:

I was at a grocery store a couple weeks later, and as I watched people pushing carts down the isles the Holy Spirit began to illuminate them one at a time and say, “She thinks she’s the main character in her life.” “He thinks he’s the protagonist in his story.”

Just like I do about my life, and you do about yours. It’s natural because stories written with an omniscient author are either first or third person. It’s either a character telling the story and the reader knows his thoughts (first person omniscient), or it’s a narrator outside the story and the reader knows some or all of the characters’ thoughts (third person omniscient). You are not outside of your story, and you know what you’re thinking, so you become the first-person narrator. It’s unavoidable.

The point of the grocery store illustration was not to say, “Isn’t that silly? God’s the main character and they just don’t know it.” It was more like, “You thought you were the main character in this scene, but so does she. And so does he. Who is right?”

How often does it really occur to us that we’re the extras in someone else’s story? In the story of that woman with the toddler in her shopping cart, I’m a one-use extra who just makes this scene a little more realistic. Here’s fifty bucks, make your one and only exit.

We think we’re the protagonists. And in a way we are. But you are the protagonist once a day, and an extra lost somewhere in the bottom of the credits hundreds of times each day. So if we’re going by the numbers, statistically speaking, you’re more of an extra than the hero.

This isn’t supposed to be depressing. It’s supposed to be blowing a little bit of your mind. How often do we really think outside of ourselves?

You could think of it in terms of frames too. Say each second is one frame. In a given minute, you are the protagonist for 60 frames. But say during that same minute you’re driving. And say there are a car ahead of you and a car behind you for the duration of the minute. That’s two stories in which you are a nameless extra for 60 frames. Sixty frames of hero; 120 frames of Guy In Car. You’re still more of an extra.

This is not to belittle your existence. You are still the main character in one potentially amazing story, but we’ll get to that later. I think before you can be a good main character you have to be a good extra.

Here’s the point: Think outside of yourself today; what kind of extra will you be?

Sometimes you’re a faceless head, way in the back, and you just can’t do anything about it. But if you’re an extra with a face, your own line in the credits (Woman in Line, instead of one of a thousand names listed as Shoppers), and maybe even a line of dialogue – what kind of extra will you be?

Will you be a positive turn in someone’s story or a negative one?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 27, 2010 10:23 am

    I’ve been thinking a lot about the fact that this life is not “my story”. It’s “God’s story” and I get to play a part once in a while. He’s got me realizing I just need to be ready to step up when he needs a lead or extra. I’m available for whatever part He’s looking to fill. :)

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