Thursday, April 3, 2014

Who I Am And Other Life Epiphanies

We spent the weekend at a spiritual retreat: Shawn, the kids and I, and our church group.  Lent is such a special time of devotion and self reflection, a time to focus on the present and leave the outside noise behind. A time to reprioritize your goals and expectations and let go of anything that might be distracting you and your relationship with God.  It is a season of prayer and thanksgiving, a lesson in faith and discipleship.  It is, in every way, the most perfect time to get away for a few days and devote yourself completely to your spiritual journey.  And that is what we did: with our children by our side and a beautiful group of friends who are on the same path, we spent three days strengthening our values and replenishing our souls.


There were so many lessons learned, so many truths uncovered.  For me, personally, I feel that I learned the value of being true to myself and who I want to be in this life.  More importantly, who God wants me to be. One of the speakers at the retreat spoke at length about connecting who you are on the inside with who you show on the outside.  She encouraged us to really examine ourselves: what we value, how we see ourselves, how our own personal perceptions of who we are compares to what other people think of us.  She asked us to think of one word, one word that we would use to describe ourselves and what we hope to represent in this life.  The first word that came to my heart was PEACE.  I want to exude peace.  I want to allow the love and strength and courage that I feel in my heart, the love and strength and courage that I receive from my family and my career and my passions and my love for Christ to be so strong and powerful that peace just flows out of me and onto everyone around me.  I want my face to be warm, to shine with radiant happiness. I want to bring peace to others with my actions and my words, to be the kind of person who serves as a refuge to those who are in need. And I want all of this peace to come with a quiet and calm serenity.  That the peace I exude is not accompanied by a wall of words, by loud and boisterous tones, and not in overwhelming waves.  But that it be calm and slow and genuine.  That it invites those around me to share in the peace, that it quiets all of my anxieties and fears and propels me forward into each and every new adventure.

The reality is that I am a far cry from being the peaceful soul that I strive for.  God made me loud and anxious and full of vibrant life.  He made me strong and fearless but with a rambunctious nature.  Being still and present, being a good listener with a quiet affect: it is a challenge for me.  One of my favorite quotes is by Jack London:

"I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste me days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time."

There's a connection, I learned this weekend, between who I WANT to be and who I AM.  Embracing who I am, with all of my flaws and inconsistencies, while still soul searching for my potentials and inspirations, is a beautiful and emotional process.  I can still be the "superb meteor", an energy so alive and free that I exude that "magnificent glow".  But I can learn to draw from a more quiet and peaceful place inside my soul, a place that only God can strengthen and bring forth.  I can learn to lead with my faith, to step back and listen rather than jumping ahead at lightening bolt speed.  I can evolve into a person who lives big and loud but who does so with the peaceful energy I feel inside my heart.


We left that beautiful retreat center on Sunday with hearts on fire, new affirmations made, a family more solid and connected. When I look at my life and the people I am blessed to be with, I feel grateful and humbled. They ground me, inspire me, and motivate me to continue to fight my way through this life. I feel closer to who I am, who I want to be, who I aspire to grow into. A perfectly imperfect peace loving soul, a loud and colorful warrior who strives to exude peace and humility. With a servant heart, I move forward, ready to use my thoughts and answered prayers, ready to take on the world.

P.S.  This photo is one of my favorites.  It so perfectly shows the art and beautiful chaos of parenting.  Going on a retreat with a gang of babies is not easy but together we made it work.  What a blessing these babies all are, what an inspiration it is to see all of this activity!



marie said...

What a beautiful and inspiring post dear Liv! This is such a nice thing to do to go on a spiritual retreat with family and friends. It strenghten ties and bring peace to the soul.
You'll achieve peace dear with the help of God. Thinking of you all and sending prayers.

Nicole Hallford said...

I love that quote! And this whole post!