Listen

My mom went to a real estate investors meeting last night.  The speaker at the meeting asked the seventy people in attendance to raise their hands if they were fulfilled and happy in their current jobs.  Three people of the seventy raised their hands.

Every morning, a large majority of the population has to set multiple alarms with snooze built in only to finally peel themselves out of bed, begrudgingly go into a job they abhor, to get a paycheck that barely covers their bills, to pay for all the things they don’t need in a life they have created for themselves that they hate.  Their soul is numb.  They don’t recognize their own reflection staring back at themselves in the mirror while washing sleep off their face in the morning.  They strangle themselves with their tie and cage themselves in their cubicles.

As a home health physical therapist, when I am performing a start of care I have to input every medication a patient is taking one-by-one.  It’s extremely rare when I input less than 10-15 medications per patient, and I have had to input upwards of 50 medications for a single patient on more than one occasion.  We have medications to treat the anxiety, depression, fatigue, high blood pressure, and every other symptom imaginable that arises from a lifetime of not listening.  There has been highly credible research that has found that a staggering 75%-98% of mental and physical illnesses are caused by our thought life.  That means that only 2-25% of illnesses come from our environment and genetics!

The best antidote that I know to numbingly trudging through life and dying before you are dead is to listen to what your life is trying to tell you.   Most of us are listening, we are just listening to the wrong things.  We are listening to what the mass media is telling us is a successful life.  We are listening to what career our parents think we should pursue.  We are listening to what our spouse wants.  We are listening to what the credit card companies are selling us. We are listening to fear. We are listening to what is “normal”.  We are listening to cultural and societal norms.  We are going with the flow and not rocking the boat.

My story is not terribly unique.  I’m thirty-three years old and I’m just beginning to know myself.  Like most of us, I have spent most of my life up until this point listening to what everyone else thought I should be doing instead of actually letting my life speak.  I had been listening to what others wanted of me for so long, it took me quitting my job, buying a one-way ticket to Iceland, and traveling around the world by myself to drown out all other voices other than my own and the One who created me uniquely and for a purpose and finally listen-listen to what my Creator created me for, listen to all the gentle nudges my life has given me up until now, and listen to my own desires that were buried deep underneath a mountain of expectations.

It’s safe to say that we all want to be living with purpose and intention.  We all want to make a positive impact on the world around us.  I believe that it’s only when we are living in harmony with the purpose we are created for that we can have that indelible impact.  This begins by listening.

Today I invite you to listen to your life.  Dig deep.  Put your bare fingers deep into the earth of your soul and see what you find there.  Get dirt underneath your fingernails.  Take the time to observe your life and see any common threads that seem to weave their way through the entire course of it.  Pull on that golden thread.  Sit with your hopes, your dreams, your fears, and drown out all other expectations other than your own and your Maker’s.  This can be a long, slow, and sometimes painful process, but the results are worth it.  Let’s start listening.

Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be? -Danielle LaPorte

 

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Greatness

When it all comes down to it, at the end of our lives I think we’d all like to look back and say we did something great.  Something meaningful.  Something that will live on long after our physical bodies have left this earth.  Our souls are thirsty for greatness. Our hearts cry out for it with every beat; our lungs scream for it with every breath. We long to live beyond ourselves.  We inherently know that we are not meant to be the center of our own solar system, that there is a Son around which we are meant to orbit and center our entire lives around, and not the other way around.  This desire for greatness is born within us.  It’s there from the moment we take our first breath because we are made in His image, we bear His likeness, and He, my fellow man, is the very definition of Great.

So what happens to us as we age, as we settle into the mundane, everyday routine of life and lose that spark, what happens to us to make us think that greatness is always going to be just out of our reach, that our hand will always be clawing at the air? What makes us grow numb?  What makes us stop striving for greatness and instead settle for a life of monotony going to a job you hate, to pay for things you don’t need, to impress people you don’t even like?

So few people become great because the opposite of greatness is ease.  To become great takes intense effort in the face of impossible odds and inevitable hardship.  To become great takes dedication, perseverance, and putting in the effort to make the small changes one step at a time that will allow you to accomplish your dreams.

Never dealing with your childhood hurts and wounds and carrying those wounds into adulthood and having them affect your relationships in your adult life is easy.  Associating with people who never challenge you or call you to live up to a higher standard and your true potential is easy.  Repeating old, unhealthy patterns is easy.  Not taking the time to truly know yourself, your heart, your innermost desires, your dreams, your aspirations, and what lights your heart on fire and instead accepting what mainstream society or your parents think you should do to be safe and have a career that will always be stable and allow you to be “comfortable” is easy.  Living only for yourself instead of for others is easy.  Never facing your fears or taking any risks is easy.  Refusing to change is easy.  Living only in your own strength and effort instead of living in radical dependence on the One who created you is easy.  Seeking a life of pleasure, fun, mountain top experiences of instagram-worthy travel experiences is easy.   Jumping from relationship to relationship whenever you discover things you don’t like about the other person or when things get hard is easy.   Refusing to be vulnerable or to allow anyone to see the real you is easy. But I can assure you, these things aren’t great.

Greatness is choosing to own your past hurts and traumas and putting the time and energy necessary towards your healing and wholeness so that your past doesn’t have to be your future and you have something to give to the world around you.  Greatness is seeking out a mentor who will help you grow into more of the person that God has called you to be.  Greatness is being open to correction, advice, wisdom and council from people who are older and wiser than yourself-and seeking that wisdom out on your own instead of waiting for it to come to you.  Greatness is doing what God says, on days when no one is watching, even when it is the hardest road to walk down and there is no glory in it.  Greatness is spending time with God and having Him whisper to your heart who you are, what He created you for,  believing Him, and choosing to chase after that with your whole life instead of the illusion of safety or security elsewhere.  Greatness is getting by with less and giving more-more of your time, more of your finances, more of your heart to others.  Greatness is choosing to forgive and choosing to love even when others don’t necessarily “deserve” it. Greatness is in choosing to love someone in your actions and lay down your life for them long after feelings of love have faded.  Greatness is in sacrifice and in choosing to hold others in higher esteem than yourself.  Greatness is in choosing to live your life as one great love song to the Lord, performing even the most menial of tasks with an attitude of thankfulness for all that He has done of you, and always seeking out new ways to pour your life out as an offering to Him-even if it’s in doing the small things in your life with great love.  Greatness is trusting God and believing His word and choosing not to fear even when in the natural you see no way for things to work out in your favor. 

Even when we choose ease in our lives it ends up being harder.  It’s harder because to choose ease goes against the very fabric of our beings-if we have chosen to give our lives to Christ, the very creator of the universe lives inside of us.  To choose a life of ease and comfort goes against the life of the Living God who lives inside us.  To choose greatness is to choose to live in harmony with our calling-anything less and we are fighting the new nature that God has given us in Christ Jesus.