Light and Loveliness

Reflections of Emily Sue Allen

Family / Life & Faith / Poetry

Quiet Life

One sibling photo a week throughout the year. 28/52

“Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands.” 1 Thess. 4:11 NLT

I wouldn’t say that I set out to live a quiet life. In fact, looking back just a few years, I think I was trying to live as loud as possible. I threw every ounce of energy I had into learning, strategizing, doing, maximizing…completely convinced by the messages that had be coming at me since high school.

“You can be anything you want to be.”

“Live out loud and make your mark on the world.”

“If you can dream it, you can do it.”

“Pull yourself up by your bootstraps and make your dreams come true.”

“There is no time to waste. The time is now!”

“Do whatever makes you happy.”

“When opportunity knocks, open the door, or you just might miss the chance of a lifetime.”

No pressure. And there are probably hundreds of other lines that belong with this list.

It was a whirlwind ride; exhilarating and frightening at the same time. I threw all my eggs in risky baskets, hoping and believing that if I just worked hard enough, or did the perfectly right things, I would one day ‘make it’. All the while, I bumbled along, tossed all about without an anchored vision for my life’s greater purpose. I noticed at a young age that the ‘heroes’ of our culture are typically the ones who show some outstanding amount of skill, success, notoriety, or accomplishment, and for a long time, I wanted to be that kind of hero; someone ‘important’. I was immature, and confused about what really makes a person important in the world. How easy it is to elevate some with esteem for what they have to show for their lives, while completely overlooking vast numbers of honest, hard-working, everyday people.

There was not an identifiable moment that my perspective changed. It has been little by little, over time, and through deeply personal challenges. A chisel to stone, deep and shallow cuts, shaving away the unnecessary things and re-fashioning me altogether to recognize the real beauty in life is not at all what I imagined it to be in earlier years. I would be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that at times it has been extraordinarily painful, and yet, it has also been extraordinarily good.  It’s the tension of both/and, as a good friend says. Beauty is found in unexpected places, and all life is valuable.

I have learned that not every inspirational line is true. There are a lot of things that sound great to a young and eager heart, things that drip with gratifying and promising honey….but at closer inspection, sell something empty. What happens when you learn that something you’re in love with eating is both nutritionally bankrupt, and seriously unhealthy for your body? You might still eat it in a moment of weakness (hello, sugar addiction), but on occasion, you will probably think about it a little more carefully before slurping it down. In the same way, we should be discerning about the messages we internalize and use as our compass for life. Some will be bankrupt, and may send us down a path that at the end, looks nothing like it did at the beginning. This whole discovery has me searching for ways to tune out the noise, and push out the busy.

“Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands.”

Maybe we need more quiet so we can hear a little clearer when the Holy Spirit whispers to us. Maybe we need to mind our own business because minding others’ only serves to make us feel inadequate, or make us feel superior, when we are neither. Maybe we need to work with our hands, because only then can we understand what it means to toil, to labor, and eventually reap a harvest.

——-

The Chisel*

You hold the chisel to sculpt the stone

Command the rock to crack and let the water flow

Carve Your way like a river through my soul

A pebble on the sand is sculpted by the tide

The same way You whittle down my pride

Wash over me, I long to be refined

In spite of all the edges that are rough and plain

You hold me like a jeweler holds a gem

You are etching in the lines of righteousness

With a skillful hand, and perfect artistry

Make something beautiful, something beautiful of me

*from a poem/song I wrote in 2003

——————————-

Update on goals for week 28:

1) Run/walk at least 10 miles per week. Week 28 ~ 13 Run/Walk miles traveled, 297mi in 2015
2) Write 10,000 words weekly. Week 28 ~ 3200 words completed, 80,300 words in 2015

——————————-

901. bedtime question hour, 902. my little olaf (warm hugs), 903. watermelon on a hot day, 904. organized bookshelves and purged toy bins, 905. divine protection in a serious situation, 906. crisp romaine, 907. sweet 9th birthday party, 908. mini-me sewing buddy, 909. health and well-being, 910. anniversary cards in the mail