"Like a small boat
on the ocean
Sending big waves
Like how a single word
can make a heart open..."
When Sam asked me to write a post using Rachel Platten's "Fight Song," as the keynote, I was intrigued. I'd never heard of Rachel -- or her song -- but once I did, this post gave birth to itself. I just got out of the way. Here what fell on the page:
I'd spent so many years trying to prove my worthiness. I'd chased a sense of belonging -- to family, church, and in the communities I've lived in. Enough.
I refuse to fight any longer for a personal sense of validation. And actually, I have discovered that I don't need to. I am enough. In her song, Rachel sings, "a single word can make a heart open…"
That is the line that simply took my breath away. You see, once upon a time, not so long ago, I had a life-altering experience that supplied the "one word" I'd been waiting for. The word was "no."
I had been holding my breath, waiting for someone to to take note of my worth -- for far too many years. I'd done everything - shy of standing on my head - to get a thumbs up. Then one day, I got a clear, decisive thumbs down. And it was wonderful.
Sure, the first moment or two was filled with "what did I do wrong?" "Give me another chance -- please -- I'll try harder to win you over. I promise, I'll do better next time."
And there were many times in the following days - and weeks - when I thought it actually meant something about me that I didn't measure up. As if looking through any human lens could serve as an accurate assessment tool for measuring a person's merit. For weighing worth, validating value.
But I soon came to realize, that it never would. It never could. And it just didn't matter. Really. I knew I had given "it" my honest, genuine, authentic all, and it was still not enough -- for him, for her, for them.
That "no," was actually the key to my freedom. It released me. It wasn't a "no" to my dreams and desires. It was only a "no" to their participation in it. I was free. I was free to be empowered from within.
In the wake of their "no," I could begin to look in another direction. And I chose to look towards my relationship with God for any - and all - meaningful information about my peace, my purpose, my place in the world. That relationship was intact and unwavering. My trust in His love for me was sound.
Like a small heavy-keeled boat, I was secure in my spiritual seaworthiness. I was deeply grounded in an unsinkable certainty that I knew Him, felt His presence, and was filled with His grace.
What I also learned through this experience was that a clear "no," is sometimes the most wonderful version of "yes." To know -- without a shadow of a doubt -- that permission from others is just not going to be yours, actually frees you to stare unflinchingly into abyss of your own heart's fathomless worth. For this is the province where God is Sovereign -- enriching your affections for what is really yours.
Nothing that is truly ours, requires someone else's approval or permission. When we feel inspired and impelled by that deeper demand from within -- we are driven to find ways to live those desires moment-by-moment. We stop asking for permission.
I think that, for me, parenting has been one of the most powerful examples of this. For such a long time I thought that I needed to have a child to be a mother. But mothering is a verb. I could mother colleagues, nieces, neighbors, countries, causes. I didn't need to wait for the validation of a baby. I didn't need someone to choose me as the adoptive parent of their infant or child. I could mother -- nurture, encourage, support, cherish -- without hesitation, without apology.
Whatever it is yours to do, you know it in your heart. You don't have to think it into being. You don't need to poll the opinions of others to find consensus. Your purpose springs from that sacred place in you that is so deeply aligned with divine Love that nothing can extinguish its primordial fire.
Are you impelled to heal -- then heal. Are you kept awake by a desire to write, to keep bees, to partner, to coach? Then do it -- even if the "doing" begins with simply and importunately praying for the integrity and success of that industry, institution, activity in the world.
If you love the thought of being in a marriage and you have not met Mr. Right -- so? Love marriage. Love the office of husband so much that you would never criticize, demean, or undermine that office in any way. No matter how it is being carried out by those around you.
Uphold the best view of that office in your conversations, interactions, and in support of your family members and friends. Nothing can make you think of that office in any way that violates your highest sense of its potential to bless -- not even someone else's behavior. You own your right to uphold your highest sense of husband, boss, mother, friend, world leader, global citizen. Take possession of it and defend it.
Don't wait for the validation of the "right" person, place, or thing, to live your relationship with whatever God is impelling in you. Don't wait for permission from an employer's "hiring" to live your desire to do, what it is that you love -- whether it is to exercise a skill, share a talent, or support an organization's mission. Their "no," may just be your "yes" in finding a clearer, brighter path towards the realization of a deeper sense of what it means to fulfill your divinely-designed purpose, to answering your highest calling.
Mary Baker Eddy says, on the first page of her primary work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, that:
"Desire is prayer, and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires…"
These desires -- which she clearly identifies as prayers -- are actually:
"God's gracious means for accomplishing whatever has been successfully done for the Christianization and health of mankind."
I'm learning to trust this truth. To act upon it without permission from anyone -- but God. I am discovering that when the eyes of my heart are fixed on Him, I cannot be disappointed. I am empowered by His reign in my heart -- enriching my affections and governing them.
You may not be a big ocean liner - filled with folks lining up to party with you. But, you may find that you are like a small deep-keeled boat, happy to do whatever it is that small boats do. Perhaps you will carry the Christ, or hold those who are casting their nets -- within.
Offered with Love,