I’m a reasonably smart woman, and I tend to be rather more self-aware than average. But I am still very good at using that intelligence to fool myself and can get myself so focused on one thing that I remain completely oblivious to other things going on in my life of which I really should be aware.
But no matter how good I can be at fooling myself or at ignoring important input, my body always knows what my conscious mind is ignoring. And my body will continue communicating more and more loudly until it gets my attention.
I’ve been considering a decision that I need to make over the last couple of days. This is a relatively small decision about the possibility of donating something for a silent auction for a fundraiser. The cause is one that I support, and I don’t mind the thought of donating something to help out.
The challenge is in choosing the right thing to donate. The friend who approached me about making a donation had one thing clearly in mind as a possible donation, but as I’ve sat with that idea, it feels pinched and closed to me, like a turtle shrinking back into its shell for protection. But I quickly thought of other things that I could donate that prompt an open, joyful response deep inside.
I’ve learned the hard way that when it comes to people and relations appearances can be deceiving, words can be used to trick and to hide as much to expose, feelings can’t always be trusted, and that the “truth” in any given situation usually depends on who you ask. In short, there is seldom an absolute truth to any interaction between human beings, and even the truth that can be reliably nailed down in some way is likely to be interpreted differently by each participant and each viewer.
For many years, this made me hesitant to trust my own perceptions of situations I found myself in. I distrusted my feelings, questioned my motives, doubted my observations. Most of all, I ignored my intuition. At the slightest hint of contradiction to my own opinions, I accepted the “truth” of those around me above my own knowing.
When I was younger, I used to believe that God had a perfect plan for our lives. Our job was figure out what this plan was and get with the program.
I believed that there was one perfect spouse for each of us, one perfect career path, one place we were to live, one church we were to attend, one choice in every situation that was right. All other choices were wrong and disobedient. This put an awful lot of pressure on every decision to make sure it was the one perfect one.
It used to really frustrate me to think that God had laid out this perfect plan that I was supposed to follow, but that I wasn’t given a copy of the checklist for ever decision I faced so I’d know which one was right. It seemed so unfair. To top it off, I often heard it said that God would call you to whatever you were least suited (in skills and personality) to do, so if you were actually good at what you were doing or you enjoyed it, it was a sure sign that you were on the wrong path.
I discovered something about myself today that surprised me.
A friend asked me whether I believed that God ever stops knocking at people’s hearts. Even though this is not a subject that I’ve spent much time considering, my rather confident response was that I believe God only stops knocking when there is no one left who has not responded to that knock.
This is a very different answer than I would once have given, but the change in my answer was not what surprised me. What surprised me was where my assurance came in giving that believe.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 (NRSV)
The word faith tends to be used in a number of different ways as is evident from the number of definitions for this word that appear in the dictionary. I tend to think of it in religious terms because that is most often where I hear it used, but it’s more than just religious belief. Even the verse quoted above does not limit faith to only religious topics.
“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” ~Joan Didion
I do write to find out what I am thinking. More often than not, I’m surprised by what shows up on the page.
In fact, I tend to have little interest in writing about things I know. When I was trying to maintain a blog for my little business, I found it excruciating to try to write posts that shared information about coaching or yoga or Reiki. The posts were horribly boring and stilted (and mostly unread).
But the blog posts I write here are a joy. I start with a vague idea of what I want to explore and then write the post to find out what I really think, what I long for, what I fear, where I hurt, and what it all means. Some days I have a better idea of where it might take me than others, but I always learn something about me in the process.