“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because the world needs more people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman
I went to school for Tish’s conference this morning. All is well enough. She’s doing fine- especially in her own estimation.
As we were waiting in the hall, I saw this art work on the wall. Tish explained that the assignment was to write about their biggest, boldest dream.
You guys- I only had time to get three pictures, but over and over- again and again and again- I read:
“My dream is for my family to be happy.”
My dream is for my family to be happy.
Tish’s poster wasn’t done yet. I asked what her dream was and she said: “To be Taylor Swift and for my mommy to be happy.”
Oh, I said.
Then she added: “Everyone at my table wrote ‘I want my mommy to be happy!'”
Oh, I said again.
You guys. They want us to be happy.
They’re not saying:
My dream is for my mom to be perfect.
Or my dream is for my mom to be thinner or better looking.
Or have more friends.
Or have better things.
Or to have had a prettier past.
Or have a cleaner, bigger, nicer house.
Or be richer.
Or be divorced or reunited.
Or work less or more or outside the home or inside the home or part time or whatehaveyou.
None of that.
My dream is for my family and my mommy to be happy.
Holy crap, you guys. We’ve got to get our joy back. We think it’s love to allow our roles –mother, wife, volunteer, career woman – to consume us like a fire until we can’t even be seen anymore – but that’s not love. I think our kids want to really see us. They want us to leave a part of ourselves unconsumed so they can see us. I think our kids want to see us come alive sometimes. Our kids never asked for martyrs. It is not love to allow yourself – your spirit – to be buried and then fade away.
At first- these thoughts stressed me out this morning because I am passionate and I am kind and sometimes I’m ecstatic and I can usually find gratitude but I’m not “happy.” I’m intense and up and down and I get depressed and anxious and my anxiety makes me hard to be around sometimes. Because I’m impatient and snappy. I snap at people I love all the time and that makes me feel bad about myself. I want to be zen. I am so not zen. Whatever zen is- I’m the opposite of it.
But you know what- none of those papers said that “My dream is for my mom to stop snapping.” None said “I wish my mom would stop being so anxious and just relax and be more like Jesus or Buddha.” Their dreams were less about us in relationship to THEM and more about what they really want for US. As PEOPLE. They want us to be happy. Because they love US. And because they know, likely, that they are supposed to learn how to be happy during this brutiful life from us. And so if we’re slugging our way through life without joy- they are probably thinking- deep down– if she can’t pull some joy out of life- how will I?
And so those posters served as some SMELLING SALTS for me this morning. They woke me up.
And I thought: WHAT MAKES ME HAPPY? What is one thing that I could do today that has NOTHING TO DO WITH THE ROLES I PLAY and just FEEDS MY SOUL?
Because that’s important. It is important to feed my body, mind and soul every day. If we are going to ask for our daily bread- we’ve got to take the time to receive it and eat it. God provides –but we’ve got to slow down long enough to TASTE AND SEE. And we cannot say that our list of things to do is too long to slow down and feed ourselves. Because there are URGENT things and there are IMPORTANT things – and no matter how much URGENT there is – we must fit a few TRULY IMPORTANT things into our day or the URGENT things will consume us every day forever and ever ’till we die. We feed ourselves or we die. It’s inconvenient- especially in a culture that worships productivity and efficiency and busyness for busyness’ sake- but it’s THE TRUTH. We eat or we die.
WHAT MAKES YOU COME ALIVE? WHO ARE YOU BENEATH ALL OF YOUR ROLES? HOW DO YOU FEED YOURSELF?
Listen. This is a thing. We are going to figure this out together. If joy is so far out of reach that you don’t even remember what the word means- let’s talk about getting to a doctor. That’s step one.
If you can’t remember how to feed yourself but you remember what joy is: BE STILL. YOU HAVE TO GET STILL BEFORE YOU CAN REALLY GET UP. GOD MADE EVERYTHING WONDERFUL AND CREATIVE AND BEAUTIFUL OUT OF NOTHINGNESS- STILLNESS AND GOD STILL DOES. So find some quiet. 10 – 5 minutes a day. Try this- Travis sent it to us last night:
1) Prepare to pray the Psalm in 5 consecutively diminishing sentences.
2) Either aloud or quietly to yourself, say the words, “Be still and know that I am God”
3) After a couple deep breaths, pray, “Be still and know that I am.”
4) After a couple deep breaths, pray “Be still and know.”
5) After a couple deep breaths, pray, “Be still.”
6) After a couple deep breaths, pray, “Be.”
7) When ready, pray, “Amen.”
“When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him.
After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Immediately, the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.” – Mark 5
AH! 12 years old. That’s when it happens. That’s when we start looking to find our joy in other’s expectations and boys and magazines and cigarettes and food and we start getting buried. Go back. Before you were 12. What did you love?
MY FRIEND: YOU ARE NOT DEAD. YOU ARE JUST ASLEEP. YOU JUST NEED TO GET UP AND EAT.
LITTLE GIRL, GET UP!
GET UP AND EAT!!!!
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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