“How vain it is to sit down and write when you have not stood up to live.”
Henry David Thoreau
This Thoreau quote perfectly describes where I have been for a couple years now – standing up to live. When I turned 44 last year my sister wrote the sweetest note in a birthday card. Among other encouragements, she observed that I had “truly blossomed” during the previous year. I know what she means. I had stopped looking at everything through my “writer’s lens” and stopped trying to do 100 things at once and just tried to live fully inside each moment. I had started trying to look people (especially my family) in the eye when they speak. I multi-tasked less. I got my hands dirty in the garden more, played more games, did more puzzles, tried new recipes and projects (thank you, Pinterest) and reconnected with my priorities.
Now, a year after my sister’s sweet observation, life has brought a number of changes and a great deal more busyness. And a 45 minute commute each morning and afternoon. What a challenge it is to keep fighting that multi-tasking monster inside that tries to “do” (five things at once) and “be” at the same time!
Below are three of the specific ways I continue try to stand up and live…
1. Waste less time trying to meet others’ expectations. Being overly concerned with ‘what people think’ is a train of thought that has led my soul straight out of the present and into the lonely wilderness time and time again. At this stage of my life, I understand with fresh clarity how wasteful it is to squander my energy and abilities on trying to keep everybody in the world appeased. Of the hundreds and hundreds of people I know, they don’t all get a piece of me. The Lord needs all of me to accomplish the purposes He has for me. Period.
2. Waste less energy fretting about the future. This really comes down to trust. Do I believe my days are ordered by a loving Savior, or do I not? I can make plans all day long to try and ward off emergencies and figure everything out…but why would I squander the precious time I have today trying to control what hasn’t yet come? YES, make wise decisions. YES, embrace delayed gratification when appropriate. YES, continue to sharpen the God-given gifts that will help us live a fulfilling, well-spent life. But NO to getting so obsessed with the future that we are robbed of the simple joy of breathing in and out today, knowing we are in Good Hands for all eternity.
3. Seek Christ continually. The things He wants to say to me are life-changing. Why would I not keep both ears tuned to his every wish?? It is truly mind-boggling what I miss when my head is swimming with my own tentative, needy, self-focused thoughts. His thoughts are not our thoughts. They are WAY better. I want to hear more of them!
The rewards are significant. At long last I have started to feel the quiet underpinning of confidence that comes when the mind, body and soul are all headed the same direction. I’m on time more often. My relationships are more healthy. I have stopped making excuses for myself when I mess up. (For the most part, anyway. I mean, we are just broken human beings with so many demands on our bodies, minds and souls.)
In “standing up to live” I have not been as focused on “sitting down to write” as often as I have in the past. And, for now, I’m okay with it. So much about my journey I can’t fully put into words at the moment. I guess you could say I’m like a human teapot… brewing up some strong stuff that isn’t quite ready to pour out. (The song “I’m a Little Teapot” is suddenly swimming around in my head, which is awesome.)
Friends, even if for a few minutes at a time, try to tune out all of the messages from the little voices that sit on your shoulders and whisper all that crazy stuff into your being. Just focus on living – really LIVING – inside this one powerful moment. Listen for His voice… stand up…and live the life that has been specifically cut out for you (whether or not you get a humorous or validating Facebook status out of it). You will not be sorry.