“What’s your purpose? The answer comes from what you’re willing to be burdened by.” Reverend Bruce Cote
Early Sunday morning, this quote from the sermon sounded heavy. That was, until I jotted down, “It is an honor to be given a purpose.”
I used to want my family to be happy, but now I want more for all of us. I want us burdened with a purpose, which will likely make us happy while living it. If not, I still choose the burden.
In his book The War of Art, Steven Pressfield says nothing will make us more miserable than not doing what we were put here to do. He writes about resistance and how it will make you want to die.
I say, nothing will make you more miserable than living your purpose, at least in the beginning, but it won’t make you want to die. Not for long, anyway.
It’s frightening to give up the known (writing articles about daytrips, scrolling Facebook for hours, shopping and cleaning and redecorating a third time) for the unknown (sharing how I feel on my blog and in a manuscript) even when we suspect the latter holds a gift. Change is full of frustration, like having one foot in manure and the other on a thin sheet of ice. We want to move on, but the warmth is familiar even if it’s nasty. We’re comfortable.
It’s disorienting to move beyond what a friend explained about her life, “I’m in a prison cell with the door wide open, but I’m still sitting here.”
Our cell is where the world will keep us stuck if we let it. We have kneejerk reactions to others, but not to God. We ask, “What in the world will the world think of me if I (fill in the blank)?”
So, we don’t.
The blank is our heart’s desire, and not because we thought it up. God put the desire there by design. It’s the thing He placed us on this earth to do.
For me, it’s to live out loud. I cried the first and second and third times I read Emile Zola’s quote, “If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud.”
I still cry.
I wanted to tell my story, to let an audience in on my pain that reaped plenty of lessons, and to have courage to say whatever I wanted like telling who I voted for in the most controversial election of all times, but I didn’t want criticism or push back or eye rolls. I especially didn’t want to feel scared.
It’s similar to the time my husband booked us into Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. He knew I was afraid of heights, so he said, “You know, you don’t have to do this. You can relax and wait for us at the hotel.”
“Yeah, right. You know I have to hike it,” I snapped.
He looked confused. He actually didn’t know I had to hike it, but I knew it and I was terrified.
That’s often how it is when I speak up and when I write. It’s easy for some people, but it’s my burden because …
- I’m a people pleaser who likes to say what I think others want to hear.
- I’m an introvert who would like nothing more than to have the super power of being invisible.
- I want to be known as funny even though I value integrity far more than humor.
Sharing anything on FB other than humorous memes reminds me of The Church Lady on Saturday Night Live, “I’m uncomfortable with that.”
I’m afraid friends will think I’m drumming up drama instead of living my purpose.
I’m afraid I’ll be judged because everyone who is visible is judged by someone.
I’m afraid posting will come across as wanting attention for myself instead of concern for them, and sometimes I do want attention.
Like hiking the canyon, though, I don’t have a choice. I mean, I do, but I don’t. It’s odd to stare at an empty laptop screen and struggle between a story that’s emotionally safe to write and one with passion. I’ve tried to force myself to write less controversial pieces or less emotional ones or less sad stories. I’ve tried writing funny stories during enraged times. I’ve wished I could stir others without feeling stirred myself.
I can’t do it. When I take the easy way out and tell an easy story, the writing is so bad, I can’t publish it. It’s like a story I handed into one of my favorite editors. “Favorite” because she wouldn’t publish an article only to fill space. It had to have substance. I liked that about her until she wouldn’t publish one of mine. She said, “This story’s got no heart.”
That used to be my blog and my life. I saved old posts on here to remind me. I began with stories about Mr. Potato Head and walking, how Zumba motivated me to get out of bed early, and big toe hairs. Don’t believe me? Scroll way back to 2010 and you can read for yourself my unburdened writing about exercise and alarm clocks.
My writing changed significantly around the time I began praying the line from the song “Hosanna,” the line about God breaking my heart for what breaks His. I’m burdened to tell stories about my damaged marriage, estranged parents, and depression and suicide, stories I would rather not tell because what will people think? It wasn’t until I asked a more important question that I started living out loud, “If I don’t tell my stories, what will God think?
What are you burdened to do? Is it worth the risk of stepping onto thin ice? Maybe a better way to ask the same question is, do you want to stay in that other stuff?
In This Together,