When at a loss for what to do…
1. Do what you know HOW to DO.
2. Remember what you KNOW to be TRUE.
3. Find something NEW for YOU.
I like to explore ALL my options. So much so, that it has become a joke in our family. If you want something researched like a dog with a bone, than I am your go-to-gal for turning what could simply fit onto a 3 x 5 card into a 16-page official document.
Ideas are my hobby. And fleshing out new options is my-kinda-fun.
But unfortunately, all this “what if?” or “maybe this!” ends up being time-consuming. And confusing. And life-sucking.
So after spending months and months and months, exploring (and testing) all possible courses that my career/life could take, I recently came to a few conclusions.
1. Do what you know HOW to do.
Why is it that often the most logical, suitable solution is sitting there right beneath our nose?
The thing I know best HOW to do is capture and spread beauty. This has been my official mission statement since 2001. How did I lose sight of my passion?
I was so busy looking for that new “thing” I was supposed to do, that it drew my away from the real thing I already KNOW how to do.
And for me, that real thing is to shoot not-so-good photos of beauty. NOT for Instagram or Facebook — but rather — with the express purpose of turning that snapshot of time into a painting.
A painting which documents the fact that there is still a lot of good in this world. A painting which can breathe a feeling of hope, peace, and happiness into a room.
Simple for me. Life-giving to my soul. And often a way to inspire others.
YOUR real thing probably won’t be painting.
If it were — you probably would not be reading this blog — you probably wouldn’t even be on the internet because you would be blissfully lost in the chaos of your work right now. Not even knowing what day or time it was. Or when you had last eaten.
YOUR real thing… might be embracing the messy season of parenting life. With the express purpose of turning 2, or 3, or 4 (or more!) little pliable souls into first little —and then later — bigger little-people. Real people who grow up to be kind, and compassionate, and capable adults. People who do things that the world needs done. People who reflect all the good things they learned from you while they were growing up.
YOUR real thing… might be driving a truck across town, or across the country. Driving important things, to the places they need to be. On time. And without incident. Because that is what YOU know, and that is how you support your family. And along the way you have time to think and dream and listen. And SEE so many things that nobody else will ever have the chance to even know about.
YOUR real thing… might be hard, and boring, and thankless, but also RIGHT for this season of life.
Aren’t most REAL things basically just that? Full of lots of effort that feels hard, and boring, and thankless. But at the end of the day, isn’t it the REAL thing that we are intentionally doing (and viewing for what it is — the RIGHT thing) the ONE thing that best makes us sleep soundly, with a satisfied heart?
2. Remember what you KNOW to be TRUE.
Why does this sound so easy to do, yet so often the last thing we fall back on?
This year, at the suggestion of a dear friend, I have been writing down a sentence or two every morning. A thought or verse that has caught my heart from the devotional reading that I begin my day with.
This one small practice, which only consumes about 10 minutes of my time, has been a game-changer for me the past two months. Who would have thought?!!
Here is what I wrote down last week. On Wednesday. In very messy, almost illegible handwriting…
*Isaiah 38* Hezekiah was going to die. He prayed to God to remember his faithfulness and “WEPT BITTERLY.” God heard him & said “I will add 15 years to your life. As a SIGN — I will turn back THE SHADOWS & make them go back the 10 steps they have already gone down on the stairway of Ahaz.” So HE did! God made shadows go backwards! “I have heard your prayers and seen your tears…”
[That was just my unedited paraphrase. For the actual verses, check out Isaiah 38 which talks about how God heard the bitter weeping of a man and then answered his cries.]
I am not sure this story has such a happy ending, but I was reminded of something I already know to be TRUE, but need to be reminded of. Through it ALL, the God who was powerful enough to reverse the shadows, was WITH Hezekiah.
In regards to all the soul-searching and angst that seems to have made up the better part of my adult life — and besides the part about God reversing the literal shadows on the ground— here was my other favorite thought from that chapter.
Isaiah 38:17 “Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back.
Since I DO believe the Bible to be a true document, with the power to change lives (sorry if that totally weirds you out!) I need to figure out a way to pour more of this TRUTH into my life. Period.
So. To both you AND to me, I say this…
Remember what you KNOW to be true; remember what you know to be good. And STOP listening to the distractions which are so strong and so everywhere that they are almost impossible to block out!
Phillipians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”
3. Find something NEW for YOU.
I did something crazy a few months ago. I joined a class in which I am the only white person. And also, the only person below the age of 60 (65+???) I am not sure why I did this, but I felt a voice inside me was saying I should go. And do something different. Because it was an opportunity that so few will ever get the chance to experience.
At first, it was the most uncomfortable thing I have ever done. But at the very same time — the most eye-opening, interesting, love-filled place I have been in years.
In my often too-driven mind, “I do not have time…” for a weekly, noon-day class. That being said, this crazy NEW thing has been the oasis for my parched, dry soul.
The class asks nothing of me, other than to show up for an hour. And be loved. I am not even sure why.
Except, I DO know why. In my head, I know there is a LOVE that can transcend race and age and gender. But until I jumped into this crazy new thing, I have never experienced it so deeply before. A love and unity that has no other explanation than this one true thing. We are all part of the same spiritual family.
Only YOU can find your NEW good thing. And if you can’t figure it out yourself, find some idea-factory like myself and ask them for a thought or two. There has got to be at least one something-simple you can squeeze into your week, or month, or year that is a good NEW thing for you.
- Maybe a book club?
- Taking an online class in something that has always interested you?
- Hanging out at the dog park on Sunday afternoons to meet people who you would never otherwise cross paths with?
- Walking with a neighbor?
- Making a concerted, documented effort to eat one new kind of food every week?
No matter what it is for YOU, I can attest that this crazy good NEW thing I am in the middle of, has been life-giving to my soul. It has taken me out of my sometimes dreary but still comfortable safety zone and dumped a clean, cold bucket of refreshing perspective into my week.
Bam. Done. There you go.
Three easy steps to solving ALL of Life’s problems.
In a nutshell.
(Ha-ha! If ONLY life were so easy…)
“May we all listen closely for direction — but never let the weight of the wait, become that which we allow to crush us.”
— Ancient Proverb
[ Just kidding. I totally made that quote up! (See… I gotta stick to my Real Thing.) ]
MY “Real Thing” is painting.
Which is what I did last week. And THAT, is when and WHY, the painting at the top of this post was created.
So at least for now, I am getting back to painting in a more focussed way. Taking something seriously that I am ALREADY good at. And even though I have no plan (yuck) for what purpose this continued effort of love may have, I will continue to do what I know how to do. At least until somebody tells me otherwise.
If you would like to have a copy of my painting “True”— to remind you to think about what is TRUE for you — feel free to download my March desktop calendar by clicking on the image above.
Painter of beauty. Even if it is just for me; for now.