This is the fifth week of a six week series designed to help you ask deep, enriching questions that lead you to become more and more whole, more and more who you actually are in the world, and more and more comfortable in your own skin.
Each week, we’ll swim in the mystery of a unique question, designed to help you see your actual life with more clarity. Each of these questions are taken from Paula D’Arcy’s work, particularly Gift of the Red Bird: The Story of a Divine Encounter and Waking Up to This Day: Seeing the Beauty Right Before Us. Paula D’Arcy’s hard won wisdom has helped me immensely. The six questions are:
- Which lesson is life bringing me?
- Am I burying my pain?
- Am I overtaxing my body?
- What did I pay attention to today, and is that focus fruitful?
- Am I creating a life that is nourishing, or one that undermines me?
- Am I secretly clinging to something that distracts me or weighs me down?
You can read the previous weeks’ posts here. Let’s dive in the fifth question: Am I creating a life that is nourishing, or one that undermines me?
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A few years ago, my friend Rich was traveling a lot for work. With two young kids, he hated all the travel, but he felt like he needed to make the best of it, hoping things would someday change. Then one day his kids were asking where certain extended family members lived. As they made their way through the list, Rich’s daughter looked at him and innocently asked, “And where do you live, daddy?”
Game over. Everything changed for Rich after that. He immediately began searching for a different job, and before long, he found one where he travels much less. His daughter’s question was the moment he realized he was creating his life. It wasn’t just happening to him. So Rich decided to create a different one.
My friend Seth and his wife have four boys, all under the age of ten. When you have that much testosterone under one roof, merely contending with the volume in your house can turn even the most centered person into a ruthless dictator. You barely recognize the sound of your own voice, thundering to “get outside! NOW!” You marvel at the innumerable ways the word poop can be used. A calm moment can turn swiftly into a deadly fight, a whirling dervish of fists and feet and fury. And then the tears, and the blaming.
So they decided to make a small change. Well, a huge change actually: Seth and Amber decided to get 8 hours of sleep for 30 days in a row. This required some major changes, mostly going to bed early (which feels like a huge ripoff to parents of small children, because the hour or two after your offspring go to bed are THE HOURS OF FREEDOM! It is when YOU DECIDE WHAT YOU WILL DO! (And so you pour a glass of wine and fall asleep on the couch, only to wake up with drool covering chin and neck, and Netflix kindly asking if you’re still really watching).
And this small change was in fact a huge change. And they created it.
My friend Kara noticed one day that she had stopped being an artist. It wasn’t that she had decided not to be an artist, but that part of her had stopped functioning. With four kids and a busy life, creativity is one of the first things to go. But when she stopped being an artist, a huge part of Kara began to starve. She loves playing with art; she loses herself in it. But one day when she became hungry enough, her art showed up, knocking at her door, asking to come back into her life. So she said yes. Her husband Scott transformed the backyard shed into a studio for Kara, and she’s off to the races. And the world is getting the gift of her art. It’s so good. She’s creating her life. And it’s nourishing.
Do you feel like you have permission to create a life that is nourishing for you? Here’s the secret: No one is going to give you permission. You must decide for yourself that you can, and must, do it. No amount of complaining or wishing is going to change anything. You can create a life that is nourishing. Not an easy life. Not a less challenging life. But a nourishing one.
So what kind of life are you going to create? What is one small step you can take?
In it together, friends.
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Thanks for reading my blog! My great passion is to use words to create environments where people can become who they actually are. Make sure to check out the following links to keep in touch with some of the other ways I’m using words to create space for people to grow and become. If you’d like to invite me to speak to your tribe, I’d love to talk to you about that. Just go here to get the conversation started.
This Good Word Podcast. I host a weekly podcast which comes out every Thursday. Every episode focuses on one ordinary word, as a way to reclaim what’s holy about our humanity. Sometimes I just talk into the mic, and sometimes I interview fascinating people. Take a listen here.
Beginnings: The First Seven Days of the Rest of Your Life. I published my first book in January 2016. It’s an imaginative look at the seven days of creation, as if they weren’t simply an event in time, but a process that describes God’s continual work of creating good in me, you, and the world. Order Now: Amazon | Books-A-Million | IndieBound | Barnes and Noble. It’s also available as an audiobook.
Genesis Covenant Church. I am the Senior Pastor at a beautiful, quirky little church called Genesis, where we rally around the idea that our job is to join God’s work of cultivating new beginnings in all of us, everywhere. Our sermons are interactive, done in the socratic style of questions which lead to more questions. You can check out our weekly sermons here. Enjoy! And if you’re anywhere near Minneapolis, we’d love to see you there.