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The Story of With: A Better Way to Live, Love, & Create Kindle Edition
|Length: 312 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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But this book will change you, if you enter in. There are two concurrent streams: the story, and the talking about the story. Sometimes one will overwhelm the other (you just want to get back to the story!), but as I’ve now finished I see how well the two streams work together. A good story takes you someplace beautiful. It changes you, it lifts your vision … and getting the gift of an accomplished guide is a rare privilege.
So my recommendation is first: BUY THE FLIPPING BOOK. Don’t dawdle, use the one-click option, you won’t regret it.
And then second, stick through it and let God speak. Undoubtedly, He will, for this is a work of prophetic power, real pastoral love and ultimate Beauty. It makes me want to let out a barbaric yawp (which would be awkward, since I’m sitting on a plane full of people, so I did it in my spirit). I’m so grateful to have read it, and I eagerly anticipate letting it write itself more deeply into my soul in the months and years to come.
If this sounds familiar ... If you're feeling overwhelmed ... If you want to create, but you're afraid it won't be good enough ... If your life is so broken, you don't think anything good will ever come from it again ... you need to read this book.
Mia, the main character, is trying to find her way to the place she needs to go in her life. One station along her route is a perfect kitchen filled with pleasant and skilled chefs. Some of them take her under their wings and help her. She has always wanted to be a chef. She’s a great cook, but she has always cooked exactly by recipes.
A chef in charge of helping her encourages her to choose seven ingredients and create a dish. As he and the others in her group assist her, he asks a question. What if other people don’t like your dish?
She said she’d toss it out and start over. She’d try a new recipe. But he’d already explained to her that recipes are merely other people’s creations. I digress a moment. The author had already shown that Mia and the chefs were following the recognized methods of cooking. They weren’t breaking the established rules; instead, the established rules and the kind chef gave her the freedom to use the skill of cooking to create her own dish.
Back to the question—
“Do not change for the critic! We are responsible to create with the Creator and then serve it to the hungry. If others don’t like it, that doesn’t invalidate the dish.” (quoted from The Story of With) He went on to explain that “we cook to satisfy body and soul rather than on order.”
I love the next thing he said. “If someone prefers another dish, let them learn to cook that rather than simply critique what another has been called to do.”
Chains fell from Mia’s heart...and from mine.
The book's subject, keeping our creative passions fresh, new, and spiritually focused, is not rarified. It's just that marketplace, and other pressures pull us down from the creative zone where we most want to be.
Employing the art of allegory, Arnold elevates us back to the level of our hopes and dreams. Normally allegory leaves the fun of discovering the meaning to the reader. That Allen pulls us out of the story to explain the meaning was off-putting to me at first. I would suggest using this book as you use a devotional. Take it in daily bites and let the story and the wisdom sink in during the day. The style is not unlike the Biblical method of beginning with a parable and ending with an interpretation.
There is much here I have heard before and need to hear repeatedly but in new and different ways. There are also concepts that are new to me; for example, the difference between having expectations and living with expectancy; "being open to what does happen regardless of what you think should happen.
Arnold verbalizes familiar wisdom with thrilling succinctness. "Are you aware of the things you do each day that either numb or nurture your heart?" he asks. I know that when I live with that kind of mindfulness, I experience peace and joy. Numb or nurture are words I can remember.
Another jewel: when we pursue our talent with our creative God, we breathe the eternal into existence. What a lovely thought.
Arnold reclaims the meaning of bohemian, a word that has been synonymous with hippie or beatnik, as an artistic way of sensing things others do not. When I consider these words, I feel called to a community instead of out on some fringe of society.
Because I read this on my Kindle app, I can touch the note function and run through a list of bon mots that remind not to live to other's expectations but to stay the course of my creative calling.