"The Glory of God is man fully alive."
- Saint Irenaeus
A favorite movie of ALMOST every woman I know is "The Notebook." There is something that deeply resonates in my heart as I engage the story. A young couple, Allie and Noah, are passionately in love and then torn apart through misunderstanding and circumstances. Each finding their own ways to cope with the lost relationship, for years distracting themselves with other pursuits. She falls in love with Lon, a wealthy and handsome soldier. He is someone that makes sense and someone who is a practical choice for her. He is kind and good to her....but deeply known in her heart, something is still missing. One day she has a revelation: "I don't paint anymore, I used to paint all the time, and I really loved it," she said to Lon. He replies, "I didn't know that......so paint."
She used to paint when her heart was alive with passion, when she was in touch with something raw and untamed in her soul. When she was thriving. When a carefree and adventurous spirit was vibrant. The story continues with a pilgrimage back to her first love (Noah). After all the years of counterfeit.....she paints again.
Shauna Niequist's book "Present Over Perfect" was a birthday present to myself several years ago. I read it long after the purchase, which is a true giveaway that life for me can at times be...well...perhaps the opposite of both the words in the title. In the book, Shauna tells her own story of "leaving behind frantic for a more soulful way of living." She says:
"We have some say over the size of our own lives - we have the agency and authority and freedom to make them smaller or larger, heavier or lighter."
A typical morning for our family I'm sure resembles so many others. We are certainly in the norm for a family in our season of life. Several weekday mornings my husband and I get up in the early hours to hit the gym. Many times we are getting ourselves ready in the half-lit stillness of the morning. We return often to see our 17-year-old son's car already out of the driveway and off to school. I down a morning shake and a couple sips of coffee, shower, get ready and take my first phone calls and texts for the day. By the time we've managed to turn the house upside down, off we go...buttoned up and shiny.
I think it's so funny how we leave our houses a complete mess in order to walk out the door "put together"? I understand that sometimes there are just busy seasons when the demand is high, but to continually neglect the inside so the outside can thrive? I can't do that for very long. Real shine happens from the inside out. Not by turning upside down.
Please don't hear me say a clean house means a put together life...often a too clean house indicates something of the opposite. I'm speaking about balance, purpose and passion. I too have found, I don't "paint" anymore, or at least the way I used to.
I have to stop and nourish my soul. Rather than chugging down the figurative morning nutrition shake and being on my way, I have to prepare a table of the real stuff. Taking time to taste and see His goodness. I give myself permission to put the to-do- list aside, even for a short part of my morning, in order "to-do" my life better. To wake up and not plug-in, rather BE-in His presence. The great consultant of my schedule. The master life coach. Because "In Him we live and move and have our being." I don't want the counterfeit, striving life. I long for the authentic, abiding, thriving one.
How I ache for the raw and untamed. For the carefree and adventurous. To reveal the glory of God in being fully alive. Empowered by His spirit. It begins in intimacy with my creator. A lifelong pilgrimage back to my first love. Vibrant colors and meaningful textures emerge, and there I thrive.