Living My Joy
Many of us spend significant time and effort trying to manage, enhance or maintain our outer beauty--for example, our hair, face, clothes, image. Do we spend as much time and effort on our inner beauty--our souls, who we really are? Because at some point, there will be cracks in our exteriors. In those instances, will the light of our souls that shines through be bright or dim?
As human beings, our lives have many layers. If the layers of our lives were peeled back, could we honestly say our inner selves are as beautiful as--or more beautiful than--our outer selves? If there were such a thing as a "SHA" (Soul Housing Authority), upon examination would our inner selves be written up with numerous concerns? Do we do enough self-examination to be able to assess honestly the state of our inner lives? How about to assess whether the things others say to and about us are true? We tend to agree with the positive things others say to and about us, but dismiss the negative things out of hand. But we know the truth (about the positive and the negative)--that is, if we're being honest with ourselves. Sometimes, we can dismiss things legitimately because we know the person doesn't know us or have sufficient information. And, sometimes, if/when we know someone has an agenda behind what they say to us, it's "convenient" to ignore them. But there may be value in what they say. We shouldn't miss a message just because we have an issue with the messenger. At a minimum, we should be open to examining whether there are issues that need to be addressed.
I believe that without adequate attention, time, and effort to pursue inner beauty, it's difficult to live and sustain a joyful life. Without internal work, our external beauty becomes our priority. But external beauty will not sustain us. Life's dark moments will come. There will be cracks in the exterior. It's what's on the inside that will strengthen us and provide light on our paths. It's the inside job that will help to keep that light bright.
There's a great deal of value in movement. We are advised regularly to move our bodies to improve our health. We're told movement in our careers is advisable to avoid stagnation. Sometimes, it's necessary to move out of bad situations, or to move away from those we deem hurtful or toxic. Other times, it's beneficial to move toward something or someone. Sometimes we don't move because no one has asked it of us. But there are times we must ask it of ourselves.
Movement can break barriers in our lives and propel us forward. It can help us drop baggage, overcome challenges, accomplish goals/dreams, provide clarity, growth, a change in perspective, and encouragement. Movement requires action, progress. If we want something, we must do something. Contemplation, conversation, and complaining are sometimes more commonplace than movement. Each has value to some extent, but these three C's in the absence of movement can be meaningless. It's important to remember that a lack of movement/inaction can have consequences. We must be honest in assessing whether we can live with them.
There are many reasons we may not have movement in our lives--or at least certain aspects of our lives. We may be tired, fearful, complacent, overwhelmed, without resources, lack courage, the requisite knowledge, etc. But if there's something we truly want, we must take a step towards it. Saying we want something is not enough. Just one step forward--even a small step--is progress. Things may not happen as quickly as we would like, we may have setbacks, become discouraged, etc. But if we keep moving, something will eventually happen.
Do you need movement in your life?
. . . I remain a prisoner of hope and joy!
Sometimes the hits just keep coming. My vessel gets weary. Feels tossed from side to side after taking hit after hit after hit. And I'm hanging on by a toenail for dear life. Don't know how I can take any more. And then I remember I have an anchor. And that means that even though I may feel unsteady, I don't have to hold on so tight. I'm secure. And I remember it's in the eye of the storm that there is calm. Peace. So I take the time to be still. And in that stillness I realize that in spite of it all, I'm still standing. And that while the storm all around me may be fraught with peril, all storms come to an end. And that while it may not be easy to weather the storm, this too shall pass. So I lift my head and raise my hands in gratitude for my blessings--those I have and those I have faith are on the way. Why? Because I remain a prisoner of hope and joy.
"When I‘m feeling anxious or impatient about my growth, I think of the Chinese bamboo plant. For the first four years of its life, all you can see is a little tiny shoot growing out of the ground. However, during those first years, an intricate, deep, and wide root structure is developing. Then, in the fifth year, this bamboo plant can grow up to 80 feet high. Even when I can‘t see it, I‘m growing (as long as I‘m doing the work!)." Anonymous
When we've been working on our personal growth by, for example, making sacrifices, overlooking slights, forgiving hurts (intentional and unintentional), holding our tongue or showing kindness when we really want to show out, and/or standing strong when we want to give up, it's often difficult to keep pressing forward in the face of setbacks. Setbacks sometimes occur when our efforts don't seem to be appreciated. In those instances, we may become frustrated and revert to our previous behavior. But when we realize that the growth is for us (even though others may also reap the benefits), it helps us regain our focus. We can only control ourselves--not others or how they respond to our efforts. Life's experiences--the ups, downs, joys, pain, sorrows, disappointments--help us to establish roots. Roots that strengthen us, build character, teach us courage, patience, forgiveness, etc. It may take longer than we expect or anticipate, but if we persevere, we will see growth in our branches. So we press on. One step at a time. And little by little, our roots will grow and get stronger. And then, when we least expect it, we will find ourselves in situations that reflect the exponential growth in our branches--beyond anything we could have imagined. And we'll learn to accept that we had to endure the growing pains so our roots would get strong enough to support the growth of our branches. But it's important to remember the weeds. They, too, have roots that will grow if we don't pull them--that is, do the work. There will always be challenges that provide opportunities for growth. However, once we've seen progress in one area of our lives, we can be encouraged that no matter the challenge, with hard work and diligence, we'll see growth again.