Are you driven?

Let’s talk about passions.  The things that keep us going from day to day, the things your life would seem empty without.

I know one guy who loves making short films.  It started in the sixth grade, when his class was given the option of writing an essay about a Shakespeare play, or making a video essay.  He got his family to help him put on a production of Romeo and Juliet, with a running joke that went, “what, is that FORESHADOWING?”.  It was clever, got him an A, and made him want to do the same thing for Micheal Crichton’s Jurassic Park the next year.  His love for short film has been going on 16 years now, and fills shelves full of homemade DVDs with everything from stop animation to puppets to religious inspirational fare.

I have another friend who loves to build things.  Give him anything, even a wire hanger and a snips, and he’ll make something.  Conversations over coffee lead to the food on his plate becoming a sculpture, or place mats folded into elaborate designs.

And then there are the dancers, like my daughter.  Awkward when just walking around the room, she’ll hit her head going through the doorway.  But put on some music and her five year old body flows.  She glows with happiness, she comes fully alive.  She adores dance, she lives to sing little songs about how much she loves the little things like birds or her brother or birthday cake.  Why does she do it?  She just does.  Ask her, and she’ll respond that it’s happiness.

It is.

There is a school of thought that says that some people are artistic, some aren’t.  That some of us have creative drives, some don’t.  I refuse to ascribe to that thinking.  We all have creative drives in some areas of our lives.  Some people plan menus with an amazing depth of creativity.  Some stay-at-home-moms order their days with mind-blowing creativity.  Some executives run their companies in incredibly creative ways (and these are the ones that are successful- cardboard cutout executives are a dime a dozen).  I think that tuning into that creative streak and allowing it to be a part of your daily life is one of the most fulfilling things a person can do.

So what’s your streak?  Where are you driven to think outside the box, to dazzle a little more than the average bear, to flourish?  Don’t fight it down.  Don’t force yourself to be average.

Embrace it, and shine.

Trust who you were meant to be.

You were made to be something.  It may be a mother, a brother, a writer, a creator of things, an executive, a worshipper, a friend…  whatever it is, God has made you to be that.  He has made you with certain drives and certain dreams for a reason.  I don’t think there is any greater crime against God than when we fall prey to the needs of this world and trade our dreams for material things.  How many people go through day after day working to exhaustion, coming home too tired to engage with their families, too busy for friends or church?  How many people cauterize their wounds with the television and empty relationships, covering up their hurts with this months fashion or drowning their sorrows with the radio?  How many people don’t truly live their lives, but simply mimic what life should be like, like Pinocchio on strings?

We want to be the real boys and girls of God, but we settle for appearances- we settle for things, instead of living out our callings.

Let me tell you something:  don’t give up.  Don’t trade your dreams.  It may seem impossible- there’s never enough time, never enough money, never enough sureness in life to truly pursue what our hearts call for.  But if you were made for something, everything you need is already in your hands.  The only thing missing is faith.

So believe.  Trust God.  Trust who he made you to be.  Like King David in the Bible, when other people raise doubts, simply remind them of who God made you to be.  Remind them that if God wishes it, it is already true, we just have to catch up with God’s word.

So never let go.  Hold on to who you are meant to be.  Have faith.

Believe.

Know who you really are.

I have a theory.  You’ll never find happiness and fulfillment if you don’t know who you really are.  You may be married to an amazing person, raising good kids, working a decent job, able to have time to relax and pursue other interests…  but if you don’t really know yourself, you’ll always hunger.

Our physical bodies have this amazing capacity to know what they lack.  That’s why we have an appetite. You may suddenly crave fresh fruit, or fish, or a cheeseburger.  And you may think, “ah, I’m hungry” and eat potato chips or a handful of vegetables or a couple of chocolates from your snack drawer.  Yet, you will continue to crave, even when your tummy is full.  Why?  Because you don’t really understand what your body is hungry for.  It may be telling you “more vitamins!” or “more fibre!” or “more iron!” and you are filling it up with the wrong things.  So even when it has an excess of calories, it still has a lack of the things it needs to be healthy.

Our daily lives are the same.  Our soul aches, and from that ache comes greed and jealousy and depression, or exhaustion.  We think that the answer is to work harder, to have more, to divorce the spouse that doesn’t content us, to sink money into hobbies that waste time but don’t fulfill.  We search and we ache and we feed our days with all of these things, but still go to bed feeling like something is missing.

Why?

We don’t really know who we are.  Like with our appetite, we lack the ability to listen to our soul and give ourselves the right priorities.  If you want to paint a painting that reflects your spirit and you settle for “practical” scrapbooking, you could spend a fortune in money and time and still feel unfulfilled.  If you’re working at a firm because you chose a profession that offers you stability and all your heart wants is to stand on the stage saying “that this too too sullied flesh would melt” (while rocking awesome tights), you’re going to go home every day feeling like a failure no matter how successful your career is.  You may be married to an incredible person, with wonderful kids- but if every day you carry wounds you are ignoring and never healing, your relationships will suffer.  The answer isn’t finding someone else who abrades you less- it’s dealing with why the abrasions are there.  And here’s the secret: your hurts, while perhaps incurred in the process of dealing with one person or another, may not be their fault.

The problem may be a kink in your own spirit which you simply ignore.

So what is the answer to better interpersonal relationships?  It’s not know other people better, or to choose better people to know.  It’s to know yourself, to heal yourself, to feed yourself the right foods.  Once you are strong and happy, you’ll be able to have a great relationship with even the most abrasive of people.  Why?  Because when you come from a place of strength, your strong heart bleeds happiness into everything you touch- even other people.  A weak heart saps energy and turns everything into dust.

So know your heart.  Feed it what it needs to be fed.  Once that happens, you will be indomitable.

See your circumstances as malleable

Oh, it’s April Fool’s day.  I’m supposed to do something shocking and humorous.  Uh…  I’m totally writing this post in my underwear.  No, really, I am!

Back to our regularly scheduled programming.  So far, in my “path to overcoming” we’ve covered believing in our own sufficiency, being willing to be vulnerable, recognizing God’s timing, and that I often have conversations in my head.  Oh, wait, that last one was just a bonus.  Today we’re going to talk about seeing our circumstances as malleable.

I remember one conversation with a friend who was threatening suicide.  She kept saying, “I just can’t live like this anymore, I can’t, I can’t.”  And I kept reminding her that being dead wasn’t the only way out.  “But what else can change?” she responded.

The answer?  Nearly everything.  Some things never seem to change.  You may look at your family dynamic and think that everyone is still the same as they were twenty years ago- and that may be true.  But just because some things stay the same doesn’t mean that everything always MUST.

Allow me to try to explain this a different way.  Look at nature.  The snowmelt runs down the mountain because it must, it’s a natural directive, there is no other way.  But plumbing shows that we can sometimes tweak things to our advantage, we don’t change natural law but we change natural circumstances.  Water flows up in our pipes because we’ve found another way, to take that momentum of the snow melt and force it to our advantage.

Whatever your situation is: you have the power to change it.  If you can’t pay your bills, you can either find a way to make more money or find a way to live off less.  If you are frustrated in your relationships with your family, you can find a way to change your own patterns or a way to break them out of theirs.  If work is exhausting you and making you feel trapped:  simply DO NOT ACCEPT THIS AS THE WAY THINGS HAVE TO BE.

The second you accept the fact that your situation does not have to be permanent is the second you can start plotting change.

The first step to victory is accepting it as possible.

A short inspirational message

Recently events in my life have reminded me that miracles still do happen.  (Those who also follow me on Facebook and Vox will know what I’m talking about, otherwise email me if you want in on the mystery.)  Sometimes, life backs us into a corner.  We find ourselves at the bottom of the well and the string is broken.  We angrily remind God that the Bible says if we ask for bread He won’t throw stones.

And God laughs.  We may mistake this for cruelty, but it’s not.  See, we’ve forgotten about the magic and the mystery.  We’ve turned faith into a twelve step program.  We’ve tried to boil everything down to cause and effect.  But life isn’t like that.  Sometimes, if you’re willing to believe, we fall into the well and we wake up in Wonderland.  We lock ourselves in the wardrobe, and stumble into Narnia.  We think there’s no hope, but that’s just because we don’t see reality the way that the Divine does.

We’ve forgotten about the mystery.  We, in our modern world, think that everything is programmable and able to be penciled in on our day planners.

But you don’t plan for Narnia.

So, my message for you today?  Don’t allow yourself to believe that this is the end.  Don’t allow yourself to be trapped by the thinking that each day will carry on like the last.  If you’ve asked God for bread and he hasn’t given you any, then trust that it’s because there’s a time of plenty in store and you don’t want to fill up on bread.

Just believe.