I used to be of the persuasion that God was pushing and requiring things of me that I didn’t want to do them. These things might be: joining in an activity or group that I truly wasn’t interested in and didn’t enjoy. I still hear people stating that they feel “called” to something they don’t want to do for the betterment of others, believing their soul purpose of being in a setting is to change or fix others!
While this sounds exhaustively noble, and selfless (not really) while believing this myself for many years, I can’t begin to tell you the level of honesty and joy that awakens when we recognize this skewed perspective and make the necessary adjustments.
For years I have suggested that coaching clients exercise a practice that was followed by St. Ignatius, called, The Daily Examine. I’ve written about this in my book, Untamed Heart, Releasing Your Creative Genius.
At the end of every day, Ignatius would ask himself what brought him joy that day and what robbed him of joy. Then choosing to honor the unique way in which he was created, he would purpose to lean into what gave him joy, while discerning and making adjustment concerning what robbed his joy.
Although there are certainly things in life we must do that aren’t necessarily our favorite, mine might include picking up dog poop or ironing, and there are also times when we choose to deny ourselves and prefer another from love. However, when we live in a way that keeps us separated from what our heart is truly feeling, we fragment ourselves into incongruence.
Sometimes we miss the profound arrogance of thinking it’s our job to dutifully employ ourselves in slaving over the work of rescuing the world, or setting others straight. Not to say that everyone in the helping professions come from this perspective. Many are passionate about the work they do, the relational component and as in coaching, believe that each individual is the expert or authority over their own life. And beyond that, I believe that God is actually the expert and authority over our lives, but He’s given us the authority to personally steward and direct our lives.
What one of us wants to feel pursued for some noble duty, to be fixed, set straight, while elevating another in there own mind to some superficial high ground? I might offend some of you and shake the foundation of your perspective with the next few comments, but lets get real! This kind of religiosity is like emotional terrorism, believing that to do violence to one’s self elevates one in God’s sight. Serving dutifully without intimacy or relationship suddenly makes God into a pimp. There is another word for this kind of trade off: prostitution! The good news is God’s not a pimp! He did the work. You don’t have to strive!
When we give ourselves permission to lean into joy rather than duty, we begin to experience profound freedom. Maybe it’s time to lighten up. Instead of chaining yourself to things your heart isn’t into, or maintaining relationships out of duty, lean into the places that bring you joy. If you’ve lived under this kind of obligation, it may take time to discover what your heart truly feels. Please be kind with yourself in the process.
Day 16, Freedom Looks Like the Real You, 30 Paintings In 30 Days