Muster the Courage to Just Be You

lalaland

Sam and I went the the movies last night to see La La Land with Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. It is a nostalgic and moving mashup of old Hollywood overlaid on contemporary LA at its most plastic and self-promotional.

It’s a film about art and passion and the courage it takes to keep being you in a world that rewards you for being someone else.

As I’ve said before, I don’t believe in coincidence. Yesterday was full of hard climbs for me, on steep learning curves with zero joy. La La Land fixed all that and reminded me that love, joy and freedom is the reason for this season.

Next week, this blog will retire and something brand new, completely original and sort of terrifying will take its place. Want a hint?

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I quit my job to spend 2017 with Jesus. It was kind of an insane move that, on day one, he rewarded by grabbing my hand and running. So much has happened, New Year’s Day feels like six months ago.

My biggest struggle as a writer has always been the sense I had nothing to say. Yet, I’ve spent the last seven years wrestling with Jesus about who I am and what I’m supposed to do here.

 I think lot of you wonder the same thing: How do I make my life matter?

Maybe the reason for my seven-year wrestling match with that exact question, was to figure it out, so I can help you figure it out too.

What does it mean to follow him well?

How do I burn bright in sad and broken places?

How do I help others do the same?

How’s that for something to say?

And how ironic that by getting to know who created me, so I know what he created me for, I discovered my purpose is to facilitate that exact same process for you.

God is funny.

See I know depression. I know dread. I know anxiety and doubt. I know fear and loneliness like I know my own face. But I also know now, none of that is how he created me or you. Nor is it what he created us for.

I think so much human anxiety is born of the fact that we believe we are here for a purpose and we feel guilty for not living it.

Let’s do something about that.

Stay tuned.

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How to Make Your Life Matter – A Study.

One morning when I was 20 years old, I stood on a dock at the Southern tip of Spain waiting for the ferry to North Africa.

My college roommate Marcia stood next to me and was by far the braver. Had she wavered even slightly I would have talked us out of getting on that boat. We were juniors in college in Southern California, abroad for a year, and we’d never been on the African continent or to a Muslim country. Although we’d hitchhiked around Ireland and slept in a tiny, unlocked customs shack on the Portuguese border, Morocco felt way outside our headlight beams, in that dark periphery where all manner of unknown danger lurks.

With reasons not to go blooming like algae in my mind, I walked on that ferry.

Here are three memories from Tetouan, Morocco in 1992.

chefchaouen, Morocco

chefchaouen, Morocco (Photo credit: PnP!)

  1. Just outside the Medina, the white-walled, old city, packed with spice merchants and carpet sellers, women were taking their kids to school and grocery shopping. I sat on the steps, studying their abayas, and headscarves. I smiled when I got caught staring. I usually got smiles back.
  2. It was hot and dry and mint grows everywhere. If you order a glass of iced tea, they stuff it with mint leaves and pour the tea over them – basically a mint julep, minus the Bourbon.
  3. Many of the buildings have rooftops where you can gaze over the bustle of the city and the orange orchards that surround it. The ivory buildings pop against the blue sky and The Rif mountains shimmer green and gray in the distance.

Of the year I spent in Europe, Morocco was my favorite adventure because I got smarter and braver. Standing on that rooftop thinking about writing books one day, I vowed I wouldn’t allow the dark peripheries threaten my horizon again.

But then I grew up and did it.

For the last eight years, I’ve worked in Corporate America, doing a job that was lucrative and age appropriate, but one that was no more suited to me than size five shoes.  Last Thursday, I quit.

I want exuberance, meaning and purpose, but I followed luxury and security. If your headlights were made in America, you may have done the same. The path is bright and well-marked, lots of folks are on it and your parents won’t regret sending you to private school if you choose it.

But what if you didn’t choose that path? What if you wound up there by default and you’re so stifled you’re about to jump out of your skin? How do you get off it? And what do you do instead?

The Old Medina, Tétouan

The Old Medina, Tétouan (Photo credit: EstuarineDesign)

Those questions have crashed about in my mental rock tumbler for so long they’re now just shiny pink agates. I’m rubbing them like talismans, quizzing smart people who’ve bushwhacked their trails and come into new territory, muscular, scarred and grinning. I’m doing the same for the 20-year-old girl on the roof in North Africa, she just happens to be 40 now.

This blog is the lab and I want you to come along.

Are you drowning in debt? Waking with dread? Bored out of your mind but terrified of the dark outside your headlights. Want to make your life matter more than it currently does?

Me too. Let’s do it together.

Here’s where it starts: What would you with your life do if you could anything? What is your purpose here? Think hard and reply.