A man walking down a path came to a river and looked to cross it, but the bridge had washed out. He saw nothing to do but to take off his shoes, roll up his pant legs and wade on in. As he picked his way across the slick river, he came upon beautiful soft porcelain clay embedded in the riverbed, it’s white purity shimmering in the sun.“How wonderful I have happened upon this soft porcelain,” he thought, “I will shape it into a beautiful white cistern!” Then he took the clay and begin to form a lavish cup from which he could drink. Before he was done however, a storm arose and he ran for shelter, dropping the porcelain along the way. Soon a small boy came by and was delighted when he saw the clay laying on the ground. “I will shape this porcelain into a beautiful doll for my sister!” And he went about shaping the clay so that his sister would be happy with him. As he worked the clay begin to dry, but before he was done a mighty and hungry tiger saw the boy and chased him into the river. Not being hungry enough to swim after his meal, the tiger returned to see what the boy had been doing, and came upon the porcelain doll, now hard as stone. “How fortunate!” The tiger grumbled, I will take this home for my cubs to chew on and play with!” Then off the tiger trotted with the doll in his mouth for his cubs. This is when the doll begin to cry because she did not want to be a cup, or a doll, or chewed by cubs. She did not know what she wanted but she knew it was not this and begin to sing a sad tune, “Though cup, or doll or play-toy be, when I choose my fate I will be free.” She sang with each sun rise and sunset and she waited. Then one day the cubs took her to play by the river. As they scuffled with each other they dropped the doll into the water, which was the porcelain’s fortune because as she sank thru the water to the river bed, she began to soften. Then her heart opened and she reflected on all she had learned. In her time being molded into a cup, and a doll and being a toy, in being all the things she never chose, she had found her own voice and began to sing a little tune, “I will be land, and sea, life of the tree, in my choosing I am free.” Softening and dissolving she became part of flowing streams, nourishing the land and bringing life to everything she touched. That is what she did. And She was happy.
If you don’t speak for yourself, someone will speak for you. If you don’t define yourself, someone will define you. That is a rule of existence.
We all know what this is like, having lived under decisions made by our families or decisions we made for ourselves being influenced by friends, loved ones or our culture. Sometimes we go with the flow, get swept up in the current, and find ourselves in a place we never intended wondering what happened. This is a counterfeit life and we aren’t satisfied with it. Our life itches for something different and we just can’t find the way to scratch it.
The first step toward living a life you love:
Defining yourself means your life and actions reflect your own desires and passions, and no one else’s, unless you choose that.
You can start today by taking a quiet moment, listening to your own inner voice and asking “What do I really want? What are my true desires, passions and loves? What did God put inside me so that when all outside influences are stripped away, it remains? How can I live that out now, with all my relationships and responsibilities?”
When you begin to explore this about yourself, you will have begun your path of peace and blessing for everyone you touch. You will feel like you are on the path home, to the place that is yours, where you fit.
The process can be a joy or uncomfortable depending on how much or little you have heard our own voice in the past. Your true desires, when you begin to see them, may surprise you, or even scare you. Remember, just because you begin to know what you really want, doesn’t mean you have to DO anything. You are seeking knowledge only, just getting to know yourself better.
Hearing your own voice means temporarily putting aside fear and all the long learned habits and expectations for your life that may be saying, “I shouldn’t want this, I shouldn’t do this, I shouldn’t be this.” In this exercise, let your mind and heart be free. The knowing what is deep inside is the first step to contentment.
Ready to try?
Find a quiet place that you love. Set aside 15 – 30 minutes. Be kind to yourself, open and accepting of what you will find. Look at it objectively, as if you are watching yourself in a movie.
Before you start, say this out loud:
I know I am beautiful, I know I have so much to give to myself, others and the world. I know the best way to give all I can, to be a blessing to myself and others is to live a life true to my own heart. I will listen to my heart and find my true desires. I know that anything I see today is there for a reason and it is good for me to know it.
Now be quiet. Listen to your heart.
What is the one message your heart is giving you right now?
Listen further, deeper. What is a second message your heart is saying to you?
Now listen a third time. Take plenty of time and remember, anything goes. Ask your heart this:
What is a secret about myself you want to tell me?
Write down all the ways your heart was surprising, joyful or fearful to you
“But What if I don’t really know what I want?”
This, my friends, is common and even wonderful. You have a whole world of joyful discovery ahead of you. It just takes practice listening to your own heart, your own voice, your own guidance system. Everyone has this guidance system, some call it intuition, some call it the Universe or the Divine. For me, it’s God. It takes courage to listen, because, as I said before, finding out what is in your heart, knowing what you really want, means you might change. This might be a great feeling! Or it may scare you to death and it will be hard to trust what you are hearing is right.
But, when it’s put to the test, you will see it’s right for you every time.
There are four ways to listen when you are finding your way, four beacons of light that shine you forward. When all four come into alignment, you have found the sweet spot of your life. If they aren’t in alignment, keep searching. Four forms of self-awareness:
Your Head, Your Heart, Your Hunch, The Big Red Balloon
YOUR HEAD: The intellectual, the cognitive. What do you THINK about your needs, responsibilities and actions.
What do I THINK about my life? (Write the first things that come to mind) ___________________________________________________________________________________
What do I THINK I need to shed in my life to be happy? ¬¬-___________________________________________________________________________________
What do I THINK I need to bring into my life to be happy? ___________________________________________________________________________________
What do I THINK is the thing that is blocking me from shedding what is making me unhappy or from bringing into my life what makes me happy? ___________________________________________________________________________________
YOUR HEART: What do I WANT when I am hearing my truest self? Your heart tells you what you are naturally drawn to, are passionate about and love. To do this exercise STOP THINKING and feel. Every emotion is ok. How do you feel? What is your main emotion at this moment?
What does my heart say I want?
If I could do anything at all and had all the resources in the world, what feels exciting when I think about doing it?
What other emotions do I feel when I think about this? ___________________________________________________________________________________
Do I feel fear when I think of what I really want?
What is scary to me?
YOUR HUNCH:: What does your soul say, deep down, your intuition, that thing you know but aren’t listening to. This one can be a challenge because we don’t always trust what we hear. But, what the heck? Trust it now.
What is my gut-feeling, intuition or the deepest of desires guiding me to do, if I weren’t afraid or saw the way? ___________________________________________________________________________________
If I knew what I was hearing was true, what would I do? ___________________________________________________________________________________
When Head, Heart and Hunch all three agree, it’s time to pay attention.
The fourth one is different but its like sweet nectar to your lifeI call it the Big Red Balloon. Big Red Balloons are desires that are large and weighty, and stick around thru the goings and coming of all your other desires. You may have one your whole life, or a few. But they are, if you follow them, a gift that has been given specifically to you as a blessing to you and to the whole world.
THE BIG RED BALLOON
Do you have any desire or dream that keeps nagging you, keeps popping up in your thoughts, day after day, year after year? You try to push them aside but they keep coming back.
SThese are your big red balloons.
It’s like swimming in a pool with a big red balloon. You push the balloon under water, but it pops back up, you push it down again, but it pops back up. The balloon is saying, “look at me, pay attention to me.”
Take these ideas seriously. They are a gift in your life, a guiding light, a calling. Chances are you are meant to do this, and when you move forward, the path, previously unseen, will open before you. Chances are, God is in it, beckoning you to come.
When you see a big red balloon and you start after it, people will ask, “Why are you doing this?” and most often your answer might be something like, “Because I just have to,” or “Because I know I’m suppose to.” This answer may not satisfy them, but it is enough.
People will ask, “how are you going to do this?” You might say, “I don’t know, I will figure it out,” or, “It will figure itself out.” That answer also will not satisfy them, but it is enough.
You will be walking a walk of faith, based on trust in your inner voice, and trust that the voice is correct. Following the Red Balloon is rarely easy, but it’s thrilling, especially when the path starts to show itself, and doors start to open. You will be amazed.
In listening to ourselves in this way, we aren’t deciding what to do in life, life is deciding what we will do. We aren’t telling God who we will be, He, she or it is telling us why we are here. And when we walk in the way we were created to fit into the world, our life hums.
Pushing the Colorful Doors of opportunity.
What if you have a lot of big red balloons and don’t know which one to pick?
Try this. List them in order of what you want to do the most. Ask yourself the questions, which one of these do I think about the most? What do I get most excited about?
Start with that first one and take some beginning steps towards it. Jiggle it’s knob, push on it, see if the door opens. If it doesn’t, move to the next. Keep trying doors until one opens for you and stays open. Travel that path until you can not any longer. If the path ends before you feel done, thank God and move on, because those experiences are always preparing you for the next thing. Keep going. Embrace an attitude of discovery, wonder and trust that there is a place for you and it is good. In this way you can overcome failures with peace. God is directing it all.
What if I don’t have a Big Red Balloon?
Are you sure? Maybe you are living it already. Or if not, ask for one. It’s that simple. Ask, then keep your eyes open. Your life will have a passion and a purpose.
The Big Red Balloon
What, in my life, are ideas or passions that keep coming up over and over? ___________________________________________________________________________________
What has prevented me from following them so far? ___________________________________________________________________________________
If I fully trusted my intuition, if I knew God was real, or my intuition was right, or the Universe was guiding me and helping me, what would I do? ___________________________________________________________________________________
Do I have the courage and trust to try this path? ___________________________________________________________________________________
A Big Red Balloon crashed into my life way back in 1996. I was in Hawaii on vacation and for the first time ever, saw women selling themselves in the street. Prostitutes turning tricks. My first thought was, “They are beautiful and they don’t know it. God has more for them and they don’t know it. If I ever get a chance to work with this population I’m going to.” It was an idea I couldn’t forget. Seven years later I lived in Denver, Colorado and the idea went from a fleeting occasional thought to an idea constantly tapping on my brain . “It’s time. It’s time.” I fought back, “It’s not time, I still have little children, I don’t know many people in town to support me, I haven’t gotten a counseling degree yet…” I had a million really good excuses to talk myself out of it, but then I would go view houses that would make good group homes for women. The idea wouldn’t let go of me, it was beating me over the head, I argued with it every day. Then one day, I was driving down I-25 past the Broncos field when finally I had had enough. “OK!” I screamed to God or whoever was listening, “I’ll do it! But you know I don’t have the resources, so you are going to have to make it happen.” I was grim. It was going to be a lot of work. I went home and told my husband about the commitment I had made. “Ok.” He said. “Do it”. That was 2003. I started talking about how the women are suffering from trauma and abusive families leading to addictions and lack of education. “Little girls dream of growing up to be princesses and brides and maybe presidents, not prostitutes. Can you help?” By 2004 we had a program, an office, and intern and the doors opened. Street’s Hope is still operating today in 2016, helping women build new lives and come off the street.
Following this Red Ballon changed my life and my faith. I had so many reasons not to, so many reasons why it should have failed, so many “this should never have happened in a million year” stories. But it did happen. I followed the Red Balloon and it happened.
Have the courage. Say yes.