· A problem that needs to be solved
· A protagonist to solve the problem
· An antagonist to oppose the protagonist
· A theme, or structure (mystery, action, romance, etc) to how the problem will be solved
· And a plot, or the actual steps and progressions the protagonist takes to solve the problem, or the antagonist takes to thwart the protagonist
(Please accept my apology for ruining every book/movie you ever attempt reading/watching again.)
In a novel (or movie) everything happens to, for, or because of the protagonist. Every event furthers his cause. Every struggle leads her closer to the book's climatic apex. When coincidence favors the hero we cheer on her cause! When bad things happen, it’s a travesty, and somebody must pay! VOLDEMORT DID THIS! We yell as we keep ourselves from hurling the book across the room. We cry for him or her when tragedy strikes his friends, families, and classmates. "Somebody must pay." we loathely mutter under our breath.
THE BOOK OF LIFE
What does the book of life say about you? Are you the protagonist; the antagonist? A supporting character? A minor character?
NONE OF THE ABOVE!!
No, this is the book of life. There are no protagonists or antagonists. There are no supporting characters, nor minor characters. We are not ranked by our importance, or casted role. We are people. People are good and bad; we are each a mix of good and evil. We are all special, and all important, but none of us is more special, or important than another. "Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God." (D&C 18:10) and "...God is no respecter of persons." (Acts 10:34)
When we see ourselves as protagonists in the book of life, then everything that happens, happens to, for or because of us. Why did Nancy in accounting lose her job? To create an opening for you, of course! Why did you get into that nearly fatal accident? Because you have an important lesson to learn. Why were you diagnosed with cancer? Because God singled you out and wants you to grow from the experience.
Bullhonky! All of it!
Bad things don’t happen TO us. Good things don’t happen FOR us. Good things happen and bad things happen. "He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the evil, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." (Matt 5:45) God does not esteem one flesh above another because one is more righteous than the other. (1 Nephi 17:35)
The novelization of our lives has created a perception in us that we are all protagonists. As protagonists we are entitled, yes, ENTITLED to good things. As the protagonist, the author of the Book of Life breaks his contract when he makes us suffer! He cannot be the kind and loving author we always thought he was if he makes our lives unbearable, can he?
When we look at life from a broader perspective, when we see that our story is the story of everyday life, we begin to see that God hasn’t singled us out for greatness or damnation. We begin to see that the pages of the book of life are full of everyday things, and those things are beautiful. The greatness is up to us.
Where our story leads depends entirely upon us. Despite our burdens, despite our pain, despite our insecurities, it is up to us to move. It is my faith that God does not give us trials, but that trials come as a part of our mortal existence, and our test is how we handle those trials.
Heavenly Father is very aware of our burdens, but our burdens do not define his love for us.
The greatest novel ever written won’t be the man who the saves the world from a tyrant. The greatest novel ever written IS the novel of every person who rises from their slumber, and with faith, hope and charity determines to make today better than yesterday and lives with faith that tomorrow will be better for the things done today.
So your challenge then is to rise up, take hold of your burden and with faith, find the determination to carry your burden. It is not the legacy of the Saints of God to fall slack when the journey lengthens, the oxbows break, the rations run low, and death takes our loved ones. No, it is our legacy to stand tall, and determine that our journey is not over. You woke today with the breath of life in your nostrils. You still have that breath now. God still has need of you. Do not burden yourself with the entitlement of this generation.
The more I study it, the more I learn that the Atonement is not just about death, resurrection and eternal life. The atonement is about healing. It is about helping us cope with this mortal life. It is about bringing peace to our souls, whatever our burdens. Heavenly Father is very aware of our burdens, but our burdens do not define his love for us. Jesus asks us to take his yoke up with him, or rather he offers us to make a covenant with him, that if we carry the burden of caring for his people, he will carry the burden of our grief, sin, and heartache. He will heal us, and teach us happiness. (Matthew 11:28-30)
Thanks to Henry Bingham for his help in preparing this article