I am at such a strange place in my life. Everything is new and different. I suddenly have immense freedom and vastly different responsibilities. And that is just in the physical world. If you read my post “Calling” you might have an idea of the battles I wage on a cosmic level. Don’t laugh. (This stuff’s for real for an INFP!) The need–not desire, or even hope–the NEED to have purpose in life is experienced to an unhealthy degree. I must contribute to humanity. I have always seemingly frantically, pursued my different talents hoping to strike on something that would be my destiny. My manifesto. My gift to the world. Greatness is not my aim. Picture it more as the opportunity to release my burden. If you have ever hiked many miles with a heavy pack, you know the satisfaction of clicking those front buckles and feeling the weight drop off. I have applied myself to art in all forms, to music, to radio and voice-over work. I have paid the bills. I am fine. But it’s not about paying the bills. It’s about releasing the burden. In that I have had limited success. And I wonder how many people who also feel this way ever truly feel complete success. Do they have that moment or that day when they stand on a mountain top and shout “Yes! This is what I was MADE to do. I have contributed to humanity in a way that only I was destined to do.” And then proceed to go home and binge watch all 6 seasons of Downton Abbey in peace? I really don’t think it works like that. I think you persevere at what you are good at, and hopefully at the end, look back on a life filled with passion and purpose. And I guess that has to be ok.
The only option is to go where the road takes you. Right? Sure, you decide which roads and when to detour, but if you are like me you get bored and impatient. The pace is not correct. The weather is uncomfortable. Others seem to be traveling faster. Discouragement joins the journey. Sometimes I even piggyback him. But I keep going. I have to.
Last Saturday morning I woke up with a word in my head. (Odd, I know. Songs stuck in your head are completely normal, but a single word?) The word was “respond”. (Ok, I will be honest. It’s not so odd. I have learned to make mental notes of these waking thoughts. It is usually the moments I am most in touch with the Spirit. Having been in a negative situation for so long, it is very hard for me to trust the good things God says to me. He whispers them as I am just coming into consciousness.) I got up and went about my day never giving it another thought. As I was journaling that night I wrote, “Stop striving and just relax and heal. Live. Adventure. Trust. Be. Discover. Embrace stillness, gentleness, self-control, peace. Move slowly, think deeply. Weigh down the moments with thankfulness.” (Thank you Ann Voskamp!) Then I wrote, “Be like water, flow to all the places in my life that are open.” Instantly I had a vision of water going out over dry land, filling crevices and features, settling in, and becoming still on the surface. I stopped and breathed in new peace. I am not responsible for the places I can or cannot fill. I am not even capable of digging out areas I want to occupy. All I can do is live like water. My life has nooks and crannies of creative outlets and ways to serve others—let water flow to cover all of them and stop striving. Stop wasting efforts digging. The shovel is so small and drains all your strength. The force of the current is much stronger. The water itself will break down the dirt that is in your way. What a beautiful way to live life. Respond like water. Respond.
I find it no coincidence that the first friend I made when I started this blog the other day–the first person to read my blog–was “Learning To Live Like Water”. She has been posting beautiful pictures of her adventures in Florida. Beautiful sunsets. Beautiful sailboats. I see it. Calm beautiful water. Also, in school last week the kids learned “the 4 types of ocean floor”. (No joke!) They are: continental shelf, abyssal plains, ridges, and mountain ranges. When you live like water you easily cover them all. I have been digging trenches in the abyssal plains for so long I have forgotten what sunshine feels like. No more. I am coming to the surface and enjoying the calm. Trusting the current. Responding to inspiring things in whatever way I feel I want to. This whole concept is a delicate gift. It was wrapped in the pain of recent events, but a gift nonetheless. It is not just reprieve from my lifelong strivings, this is healing for my lifelong hurts. This is how I should have been living life in the first place. The abuse I have suffered is not my fault, but it certainly forces me to question how I let it happen. It forces me to ask hard questions about who I am, what I believe about myself, and how I allow others treat me. (click here for more info.) Water enjoys good boundaries.
My sister asked me to draw her a tattoo. She loves the ocean and wanted the tattoo to read “free spirit”. I doodled for about a half hour and came up with some different ideas. As I was staring at the fifth one I realized what I was looking at and how intensely personal the art was. My pen was telling me the same message my heart has been shouting all week: I am free.
Some things are just meant to be, aren’t they? We were supposed to meet, to become friends, to help each other on paths that are so similar. The tattoo design is really lovely. I am honored and humbled by your mentioning of my blog. Thank you Carly. I’m so glad that you decided to join this community and share your journey. xo
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Wow – “weigh down your moments with thankfulness” and “live like water” ! Yes Carly, live, let the water of His Spirit flow through you even when you are not planning or devising your life’s impact and the water will flow through the moments to give the exact impact and result you never could have planned and rejoice because your passion and purpose will be realized! And how do you know that after a wonderful day of teaching I binge on Downton Abbey!!! I just finished watching all six seasons – five if them for the second or third time – in peace!
Yes, Carly respond to your gentle not in a hurry living and peaceful Lord! As the water of his grace and peace flow through you into the dry places purpose will be accomplished and you will be refreshed and restored! and you will smile your gentle lovely smile! Your innocent childlike heart will come to the surface! He is pleased – very pleased – he smiles upon you!
Yes the boundaries of the Lord are sweet and they are realized as you grow in his deep feeing love-swim in that!
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