The mood is set. My newest candle is burning nearby. I have a fresh cup of tea brewing next to me in my favorite mug, and my kids are all occupied (for now) in other parts of the house. I am ready to write. But as I consider where to start, I am faced with the dilemma of putting the deep thoughts of my heart onto a written page. How do I convey an invitation that is experiential in its beckoning into a few paragraphs? It’s at this moment that I have to pause, take a few deep breaths, and let the words bubble up from within. And here we go...
At the beginning of this year I, like so many of you, pondered my upcoming New Year’s Resolutions. I knew I didn’t want a huge list of unrealistic expectations that would soon be discarded due to my inability to follow through on all the changes I wanted to see happen in my life. I’ve been there, done that, bought the t-shirt, and never wore the t-shirt again. I wanted this year to be marked by the simplicity of an important ‘few’ rather than a myriad of over-ambitious goals. Ideally, I wanted to have one focus for the year, even one word or short phrase that I could use as a framework to build my days, months, and life around in this season.
As January began, I noticed that for several days I kept hearing one small phrase over and over in my mind and it was this: “Live inspired.” Those two words felt at once like both an invitation and a challenge. An invitation because I know there are moments of inspiration waiting for me around every corner if I simply have the eyes (and pause long enough) to see them. A challenge because I know that with the demands and distractions of the world we live in today, it’s all too easy to find myself sidetracked on social media and missing the opportunity to truly connect to the beauty and inspiration that surrounds me everywhere.
Did you know that the root of the word inspire comes from a Latin word that means to “breathe or blow into”? Because I love words and their meanings, I looked up the definition of inspire one day and discovered that it was originally used to speak of a divine being breathing a truth or idea into someone. Isn’t that wild?! Those little sparks of creativity, those moments that burst with joy or beauty that take your breath away or fill you with the sudden urge to act on a ‘random’ thought or idea—what if instead of brushing them off as a silly ‘impulse’ we paused and considered, “What if this the language of the Divine trying to communicate with me?” Better yet, what if we acted on them?
I know that many of us have learned throughout life to “grow up and be responsible” and that, if we’re not careful, we can end up living days, weeks, months, or more at a time and forget what it feels like to live a truly inspired life. Can you remember the last time something sparked within you? What brings you joy and stirs creativity? What activities do you do that are fun and life-giving, not because they benefit society or serve others (necessarily) but simply because they are enjoyable to YOU?
When I realized that the invitation to me this year was to live inspired, not just dabble in it every now and then, I knew I needed to rid my life of some excess and clutter and simplify it in such a way that there would be space for things that are beautiful and uplifting to me. I took an approach that said, “If I’m too busy to live a life that makes room for inspiration, creativity, and things that arouse deep joy on a regular basis, then I’m too busy.” Did I wake up the next day and master the art of living inspired? Ha ha, not yet. But as I continue to take small steps towards living life day in and day out in alignment with where I feel the flow and essence of my heart drawing me, I am becoming radically more aware of the goodness of God, of His ever-near Presence, and I feel the breath of His inspiration drawing me regularly into a life marked by deep gratitude, wonder, and an unshakeable assurance that my best days are now. Even my act of making the tea and lighting the candle so that I could write this blog was serving to create an inspiring workspace. And it worked. I usually write slowly and tend to overthink or edit as I write but this time I didn’t stop until I was done and it came together quickly. For me, this is progress.
If I could impress something upon you today, it would be this: you have permission to create a life that inspires you. You have permission to say no to things that no longer bring life to you. Perhaps they were life-giving in another season but that season is over now. You have permission to pause, to notice, to pay attention to the things that you get excited about. If no one else gets excited about those things, it doesn’t matter—that’s the beauty of our individuality. What really fuels you? Is it reading a great book? Writing? Cooking? Beautiful music or art? Is it math or physics or geology? Running or yoga? Is it fashion? Is it service to your community or church? Is it cute animals? Is it the grandeur of nature? You may not be able to fully live the inspired life you want by tomorrow, but you can take steps (steps that will add up over time) today.
The next time you feel the Divine breath quickening something deep within, don’t be quick to brush it off. Pay attention. It’s an invitation. What might happen if you said yes?