November 28, 2007


Over the last few months with a group of girls from church, we've been taking a journey through each of our lives as we read/discuss chapters from Dan Allender's book To Be Told. The objective of the book is to get a clear picture of the life you have lived until now and to determine the life God has intended you to live in the future. If we can learn to listen to our own stories,we'll find themes that will carry into the future that God hopes we can co-author with Him.

It has certainly been an interesting journey and thought provoking to the point of exhaustion and sometimes pure restlessness. This last week was particularly convicting as I examined my choices. The fourth chapter, Listening to What Moves You- The Passion That Defines You we dissected the notions of our realities. Allender says,

"We are both powerless and unimaginably powerful simply because we have the ability to choose... We are the sum of every yes that we udder...Seldom do we know the implications of our choices".

Listening to my heart and saying yes or no (making choices) determines my future and helps me to more closely examine what Allender labels as the Ideal Self, Real Self and Ought Self. Upon reading the section on Ideal Self, I took into consideration who I am as a physical being: wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, believer, worker. Within each of those labels I determined the characteristics/adjectives I'd like to possess: devoted, strong, ambitious, honest, trustworthy, creative, knowledgeable, loving, compassionate, & passionate.

Allender points out,

"Our ideal self is revealed in what we value (passion), how we understand the world (belief), and what we do to reach our ideal (behavior). Our passion belief, and behavior fit so intimately that I can say this with confidence:

  • What we do is what we really value.

  • What we value enough to do tells other what we really believe.

  • What we really believe shapes what we become.

...So we always choose what we value most, even when our choice does us harm. We won't change our behavior until we first recognize what we value most deeply and then honestly face how our passions reinforce what we really believe. We can change our beliefs, but doing so won't alter our behavior until our beliefs transform our values. We can change what we do, but the changes won't last if our values and convictions are not transformed."

This made me think. As the Real person that I am strives to reach the Ideal which I'd like to become, what am I willing to risk, compromise, fight, and fail at to achieve it? What moves me? What are my greatest pleasures, desires and passions? What has God already created in me to become? These are tough questions for me. But here's what I know: I am uniquely designed to reveal something about God to others. I also know that this will include my child(ren), spouse and family. But, am I willing to gather and refine the components of my Real self to become who God intended me to be? Am I someone who is only willing to do the most comfortable thing because I'm too afraid of failure, rejection or discomfort?

I think of all of these as they relate to my life now. I am a stay-at-home mom and I love my daughter more than anything but the one thing I have found missing from my days is the fellowship with others that keeps me going, feeling loved and motivated. I used to get just enough interaction while working outside of the home but now those days are over and although my purpose as a mom is being fulfilled daily (which I love) my purpose as a friend is withering. I think all of this relates to the friend funk I've been experiencing. I am searching for those friends that relate on a deeper level. I feel so often that I share of myself, putting myself out there- sometimes maybe too much because I feel like I have no filter...I'll tell you what ever you want to know (or don't want to know). I'll let you in, let you know me and my heart in hopes of being genuine, genuine enough that other feel they can be the same with me. For some reason this hasn't happened yet-at least not in the circle of friends I've surrounded myself with over the last 6 years. Another girl in our book study is opposite of me. She is a terrific listener and asks the right questions that get people talking and opening up yet she isn't willing to be vulnerable with others herself. She too is on a constant search for her "BFF" -struggling the same yet with a different approach. So although I think of myself as a good listener, I think I'm not listening the right way. I hear what people say but do I really hear? Do I process and actively participate in the content of their being? I would have to say no.
As I look at my past I realize I don't have friends from my long past. I don't keep in contact with friends from Elementary/Jr High/High School and only have a handful from College - that I do a pretty pitiful job of contacting regularly. I didn't grow up in a home that was welcoming others in- not to say we weren't a nice friendly family, we just rarely had friends over to play. It was always my sisters and I going to our friends houses not having them over to play in our yard, house or bedrooms the way we did when invited by others. So, what needs to change? I'm what needs to change. I need to stop expecting it to be so easy, stop expecting others to reach out to me, and stop only doing the most comfortable thing. I need to step out and call people, drop in on friends, invite people over or out to coffee. I need to do a better job of investing in other people's lives. I need to listen, to truly listen! I need to share my gifts/interests with others and nurture the friends God has placed in my path.
I'm challenging myself to step out in the next two weeks and meet with at least two girls from my study group that I haven't met with before. I'm going to face the discomfort of being the one to initiate the call, allow for possible rejection but rejoice in the new freedom I hope to feel no longer being prisoner to my "comfortable" self.
"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?"

"Sometimes." For he was always truthful. "When you are Real, you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up, or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out, and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. but those things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to those who don't understand."

1 comment:

Susan said...

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog via Joanne. I love getting to know the woman going through this earthly journey.

I suppose this verse should stick with all of us! Unfortunately, it pops back out of my head for a time until God decides I need to be reined back in. This is usually the scripture that does it!