Listening and Doing

Listening and Doing

19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

James 1:19-27
The book of James had really been burning in my mind and heart for the last year or more. Part of healing my spirit and re-aligning myself with God’s purpose for my life is to practice listening and doing. Listening to Truth, and acting on it, letting Truth and Love replace all fears and lies I have believed about myself, others, and this world! I need fresh perspective. Hope. Determination. I want to purify any religion in my life so that I am looking after those less fortunate and not letting the world pollute and corrupt me. We are called to be the light of the world, lamps in the darkness, to bring hope to the hopeless.
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8

Living My Best Life

I want to be living my best life. I think that deep down, we all want that. But how many of us actually take the steps necessary to get from point A to point B? If I take an honest hard look at myself right now, I know that I am not the best version of myself and I am not living the life I really want. I think that one of the weaknesses of being someone who is a huge dreamer and visionary but not a natural planner and who grew up without parents or mentors to teach me how to plan, budget, or really execute steps to reach my goals… well I have mostly lived my life 3 months at a time, without any clear idea of where I will be in 1 year because as big as those life goals and dreams are, I’m still struggling with figuring out the necessary steps I need to take to get there. Perhaps even more important to me is that I want any steps I take to be ethical, moral, with integrity, and lining up with my values. I don’t want to live stressed to the max, hating my life in university, gaining weight, watching my health decline, and taking in a lot of brainwashing from professors promoting politically correct ideals and status quo lifestyles. I don’t want to chase success or degrees for the purpose of approval from my family, the comforts of wealth, or even being able to give more generously to those in need. I want to be living out the purpose God had planned for me even before I took my first breath and to have the peace that comes with living in and out of His love for me, for the world, and out of His will for my life.

I applied for a leave of absence from Ryerson University and moved from Toronto to Bracebridge in September. Since I’ve been up here in Muskoka I’ve been working construction as a labourer and carpenter’s helper. I am the only female worker on a site of 10-15 tradesmen! Our toilet is a nasty outhouse/porta potty. The other day I had to go pee with 5 guys standing around talking 6 feet from where I was squatting behind a thin plastic door where they could hear everything. lol. I know I was destined for so much more! My boss and coworkers are teaching me new skills and tips and I am focussing on being grateful for the new things I am learning, even amidst the difficult working condition of working outdoors in the winter, in temperatures as cold as -33 sometimes! On the same note, I feel great discontent with where I am at and I have no desire to be in the working class the rest of my life, trading many hours of my labour, time and sweat for money but the hour. I am taking this time away from school to live in peace and quiet while I assess my values, goals, purpose, and my emotional, physical and spiritual health. I need to make some intentional changes to altar my life course in the direction I actually want it to go. As someone who has notoriously always had a hard time focussing and following through to finish things, I know that there are destructive life habits and ways of thinking that I need to deconstruct and replace with new healthy life habits and higher ways of thinking. Proverbs says that life and death is in the power of the tongue, and since every word we have starts in our mind, it is no wonder that the Bible also talks a lot about how we need our minds renewed! Countless self-improvement speakers, authors, and leaders today are talking about the power of our thoughts and words to altar and change our destinies. This is nothing new. The short but very powerful and practical book of James talks about how our tongue is the rudder that steers the whole ship. This wisdom has been around for centuries, but how many people actually take it to heart and act on it, becoming powerful people who take full responsibility for the lives they are leading and understand the power that they have to steer their lives in whatever direction they choose?

Some of the changes I have been making are in eating healthier, going vegetarian, making my own cashew milk and gluten free bread from scratch, investing in a gym membership and going, watching documentaries on healing and using food, thoughts, spirituality, and an overall wholistic approach to heal our bodies and come into alignment with what is important to us.

As some of you know, I have dabbled in a few network marketing (direct sales) companies over the years (Mannatech, Isagenix, Plexus). I was always attracted to these companies for the same 2 reasons. In a nutshell: health and wealth. They offered health supplements, protein powders and products that have and are helping a lot of people heal their bodies in natural ways. They also offered opportunities to build a residual income by sharing the products with others, and quite frankly, if the products were ones that I enjoyed and found worked for me, why not share that with friends and family? I mean, who in this world doesn’t love the idea of being your own boss, working from anywhere in the world, choosing your own hours, and getting your own health supplement products for free?

The difficult part was that in order to make enough to pay for my products or get an income, I had to order a minimum PV (personal volume) every month (which worked out to several hundred Canadian dollars every month!) while constantly sharing the products and signing up new members who would consistently order. I simply did not have the money to sustain this. Each time I would start out excited about it and then as I discovered how resistant people are to direct sales companies, I would get discouraged and eventually give up. Not only were the products really expensive, but the money I was expected to spend monthly on them was not sustainable on my income and budget. I still have Isagenix protein powders in my cupboard that I order once/year as a customer because they are the best tasting protein shakes I have ever tasted (and I’ve tried a lot), but the business hopes I had for it are long gone.

Fast forward to now. I still have this burning desire and knowledge that I was made for so much more. Ever since I was a little girl I had this feeling that one day I would be rich. I didn’t want to struggle financially like I saw my parents struggling with their whole lives. I wanted to help poor people in third world countries. Help dig wells and send children to school who would otherwise get no education. I wanted to adopt children who had no parents. Looking back now, I realize that I still want all those things. I don’t really want the lavish life of living in a mansion, having servants, fancy cars, and expensive watches. All of those physical things will pass away and we cannot take a single coin with us when our bodies die. I DO want freedom to pursue my passions, more time to do the things that I really love, more resources to help those in great need, and to prove to myself that it is possible to choose and live a life that is not the average status quo and be happy and fulfilled doing it. And I don’t think it’s a crime to want those things, though the tall poppy mentality is often what causes those around us to discourage us from reaching for our dreams. Honestly, it’s most often our own fears of failure that stop us from really trying in the first place. If only we truly understood just how powerful we truly are.

Just a few days ago I came across a youtube ad regarding building your own online business through affiliate marketing. I had never really heard of it, but after watching their 3 intro videos explaining it, I gained an understanding of what it is, and how it has helped a lot of people to live the lives of their dreams and choosing. I still have a lot to learn, but since this season away from university is all about aligning myself with what is really important and re-defining what it means for me to live a life with purpose, I am researching new things and trying to learn new skills that will help get me where I want to be. Anyways, I have only just scratched the surface with learning about SFM (Six Figure Mentors) and the Digital Learning Academy, but suffice to say they have gotten my attention and really peaked my interest.

I have been one of those people who have really resisted this new age of social media and for the most part stayed off of twitter, facebook, instagram and related sites. One of the things that was said in one of the first intro videos I watched was that most people today are stuck living in a pre-internet mentality. (I was convicted of how true this is for me, especially in terms of the myriad of jobs I have had over the years and how I am always drawn to hands on work because it helps keep me active and fit and I strongly dislike desk jobs.) We take all of this amazing technology and information at our fingertips for granted, even though we use it every day. Others (like me) have tried to only use it when necessary, but resisted it because we fear the consequences it can have in diminishing authentic face to face relationships. So many in my generation and younger have adopted texting vocabulary and don’t know how to interact with people in normal, healthy ways when they find themselves in the same room, or bus or subway train. On the other hand, a handful of people have recognized the limitless potential and business opportunities of the internet that are revolutionary in terms of marketing, potential audiences and customers, and the profit that can be earned through software, automated systems, research and carefully designed ad campaigns. Those people have done really really well and by embracing this “age of the internet” and using its resources to their advantage, they have created the freedom, time and money to live the lives they really want to live. I’ll be honest, this freedom really appeals to me. The thing is, it will require a huge investment of my time, learning a whole set of new skills, and being determined to continuously be learning, growing and embracing this whole world of online marketing that I have previously never gave much thought to. I’ll be honest that I’m still feeling a bit apprehensive and cautious at this point, but I am also so fed up with my current life and trajectory that I know something has to change in a big way.

I would be really curious to hear your thoughts on affiliate marketing. Have you heard of it? Do you have any experience with it? If you have ever bought anything item online, then you have already been a part of it, and most likely there was some affiliate who got paid a commission on whatever it is you bought. I know I have made countless online purchases and even gotten sucked in by some of those facebook ads that were targeted to reach me based my likes, dislikes and what I give my time and attention to reading online. Yet I had absolutely no thought that this could be a viable career possibility for me personally. I could be sharing and promoting ethical products out there that I love and use as part of my lifestyle that I believe would also improve others quality of life, and in the process be rewarded when others buy those same products. I am still researching more to find out how affiliate marketing is different from direct sales/network marketing (which really wan’t something I could invest myself in long term) but so far I am intrigued and excited about what I am learning.

One thing I’ll share that I like so far about SFM that they state in Ch. 1 of module 2:

“We have two simple metrics for success at SFM:

  1. Live our lives to our highest potential, daily.
  2. Help as many people as we can, live their lives to their highest potential.”

As someone who has always valued wholeness and living a holistic lifestyle, with a desire to get my masters in counselling, open up a wholeness centre/retreat place, help others get healed and live fulfilling purposeful lives….. well those two “metrics” definitely ring true with what I want for my life and to help others find.

 

Stay tuned with me as I journey through this season of healing, re-alignment, learning, and discovery. I am excited to see where I will be in 12 months.

Much love,

Emma

 

Changing Tides

This past year has been one of difficulty and newfound joys.

Difficulties have by and large been university related, along with the ways that university affects all other areas of my life. The lethargy of sitting so much as a student, the busy pace of city life, living in a cramped basement apartment with very little natural light, and not having the close knit strong christian community that I had in Muskoka, where people there did life together really well…. all of those things had a compounded impact on my overall health and personality this past year.

Joys have included biking all over the city, runs and walks on woodbine beach, making and also refinishing discarded furniture into something beautiful and practical. I refinished a table left on the curb that served well as our kitchen table. Nyima helped me make my own custom bed frame out of old barn boards, as well as several gorgeous shelves. I met Nyima while slacklining at a park, and we became fast friends and… yes, eventually more. We went on many adventures together and I discovered a man who it is so natural and easy to do life with. Someone I can work alongside, play with and who has the strength to make it through the tougher situations with me. I am blessed to have him in my life and excited to see where God leads us and our relationship.

This past fall, while in my third year at Ryerson, I developed a gluten and dairy intolerance. It was during my most difficult and stressful semester at school, and I believe the combination of excess stress, not eating as clean and healthy as I normally did, and not getting enough exercise or space to care for my spiritual and emotional needs…. it all contributed to my gut health being compromised. Having never had any food allergies in my life, this was a tough one to come to terms with and navigate, as I have had to drastically change my diet eating habits. I know many people reading this can probably relate. We often take our health for granted until it is suddenly no longer 100%!

I came out to work at the lumber mill in Fort St James, BC. Apollo Forest Products. This is actually the village I was born in, and it hasn’t changed much since my childhood. It is the one place from my childhood that I have to go back to, and it has been a neat experience, returning to my literal roots where my mother and sister have also moved back to. I lived with and was able to be a support to my elderly grandparents with limited mobility and who really needed the extra help of a young strong person around their house and property. They were gracious enough to share their car with me so I could get to work and back. When I wasn’t cooking, cleaning or doing gardening and yard work, I had the joy of hiking up the mountain alone, building a shelter, swimming and getting some fishing in. Lots of my free time was spent alone, or around my grandparents. Not easy by any means, but a nice change of pace from living in Toronto. I realized that I desperately needed to be out in the wilderness and to breathe fresh mountain air. That is until the forest fires started raining down ash and blanketing our village in smoke!

My family, along with most of the Fort St James residents, evacuated over the last few days. It meant losing my last two weeks of work in the mill, which is a significant financial hit I was not expecting, but I know that God will provide for me regardless. I booked a new flight so that I can head back to Toronto earlier, which will be a blessing because I will have a whole week to pack up my apartment, instead of just 1 day, as was the previous plan! Here I sit in smokey Prince George, a registered evacuee, safely away from the harm of an unconfined and uncontrollable wildfire, and changing my plans as circumstances beyond my control unfold.

From September onwards my plan is uncertain. I am taking a break from university to focus on getting my health back in every dimension of my being. While I found 15% of what I learned at university valuable, a lot of it was a waste of my mind, time, money and energy. It also was not worth the toll it took on my emotional, mental, physical and spiritual health. I decided that I need to get back to doing the things that bring me life, so that I am living fully alive and as the woman God made me to be. Only then can I pour into others the gifts and love God has poured out onto me. This break and focus on recovering my health involves minimizing stress as much as possible. Part of this means moving out of Toronto for a season and back to Muskoka, Ontario.

IRELAND, here I come! Part of becoming “me” again involves feeding the adventurous travel loving side that has always wanted to visit Ireland and discover the heritage of my Doyle clan, of which I am 1/4 Irish. It would be amazing if I could meet some of my distantly related Doyle relatives! In October I go for 13 days. I have my flight booked and a car rental reserved and I am so excited for this solo road trip in a foreign land. I’ve waited for 10 years to do this trip, always hoping to find someone to go with me, and I finally decided that I am done waiting. I enjoy my own company enough to go alone, make new friends along the way, and sit in the company of strangers with beautiful accents.

My return will involve me finding work that hopefully involves using my giftings and doing something that is life giving. I will also need to figure out my living situation in Muskoka. There are a lot of uncertainties, but I feel total peace because my trust is in the one who has always guided my steps, protected me, provided for me, and led me to meet some of the most beautiful people and life long friends. My trust is in the most trustworthy person in existence, and I feel so safe knowing that my life is in God’s hands, and His hands alone.

Dreams Take Flight

A Self-Portrait poem, By Emma Doyle

 

Stationary in this room, gazing through the silver frame of electronic screen

The surreal brush strokes depicting the old wooden window ledge framing a blue sky,

Adventurous ocean.

A curtain billows out, interrupting straight certain lines.

Gusts of wind scoop into the room and out again, daring her to exit with them

Into distant horizon; she must conclude this chapter first.

A book sits open, as the watcher gazes longingly at freedom taunting.

In this room, surrounded by dusty books.

Where she longs to be, still far off.

The seagulls fly. Not her, not yet.

But,

Scrawling on the pages, her words fly, limitless.

Words, declarations; anything can happen with ink and paper.

Zooming in on the open journal, what utterances have been disclosed?

. . .

“I float defiantly though some say I should be tethered.

Spirit-free am I, relishing every journey plundered, summit explored.

Feet light, refusing to hold the weight of boxing assumptions;

I float, am free.

Clouds, none the same, echo my singularity.

Swerving shapes swiftly changing, imaginings unfettered.

Head oft caught up in their chorus of wispy dreams.

Dreamer they reckon I am, their words ring true.

A world of concrete ideals and warped changing standards

welcomes cacophony in callous ways; some say it’s good.

I shudder at the carnage; the fruit of selfish humanism.

I’ll tread this trail differently.

Who I was is not now who I am.

These swells of lived feelings, personas, words;

they’ve changed me, grown and gashed my skin.

I liken a morphing cloud to my own

Journey finds us different

At each fork

Mistake me not for capricious wind;

My roaming possesses purpose.

Yes I fly in this fable of existence,

For at these altitudes I procure ethereal panoramas.

Summits of alpine, cloud, and apex call to this vagabond.

Crisp mountain air, echoing fragrance of honeysuckle

And Indian paintbrush

Tickle my senses

But I am here. Now. Bricks of commitment placed strategically, my own doing.

Iron threads of debt, scholarly aims, and intellectual escalation

Gird me fast; restructuring the ethos I occupy.

I must stay with this struggle the allotted time.

Taste of exhaust fumes, smell of hot asphalt assault my face

Wary of vehicles, metal moving everywhere surrounds my exposed frame

Foot on pedal, coin on bus, strangers watching always. I purchase some eggs.

Tell you a secret, shall I; listen honestly.

Awake roaming have I been, but even more…

Whilst this body slumbered, my spirit journeyed far

Soaring oar mountains and sea, saw I colours more real,

More green, more wondrously vivid and alive, than any spectrum named.

Locations outside space, time, and matter

This spirit without confines

Travels far and free,

Senses beyond the five.”

Yawning depths swim inside this soul;

Her cavernous magnitudes scarcely known.

Nothing to prove, she builds ecosystems inconspicuously.

“Professor intrudes my reverie with retrogressive sentiments strongly held.

In academia, free thought is often only applauded if congruent

With politically correct subjective ideals being strategically crammed

down unsuspecting throats.

In childhood I dreamed;

In maturity I still dream, though not as before.

Realism impregnated idealism.

Steps taken to fuse these rivals.

Arduous learning navigates rules

by which to live and also strain against.

Come wander among wispy woodlands.

Breathe deep of pine, moss and entrancing clarity

Come, fill your soul with wonder,

Drink deeply.   Drink.

This. This uncultivated place of fresh gritty scents,

Damp wood, recycled trees birthing new creations, cycle.

Unpredictable yet faithful, this circle of sentient life forms.

Unfasten the harness and loose me into this place;

I shan’t return.

Rude wakeup, this pavement, vile buildings.

I cycle to school, I cycle to stores, I cycle everywhere.

Legs pushing, muscles flexing, leaking sweat on sun-stained skin;

This concession, how I feel alive in stifling concrete jungle.

High-rises closing in, I scream for open horizons, clarified air.

The sedentary student life is fancied not.

Sitting, sitting, lecture, sitting, homework, sitting.

Starting to grow out of clothes, inches grab hold.

The countdown of credits, daydreaming of travels.

Two more years have I to bear, bear it I shall.

Live music, Indian food, taste of foreign spices, pho, varied activities;

All distractions from the inhumane sardine conditions I inhabit.

I dwell in present day, making best each season.

Thankfulness holds back discontent, I find comrades.

I bide my time until, walking out, the glass slipper finds me.”

Fiercely loyal, passionate defender of good, justice burns within.

She fights for the paralyzed, and gives others weapons — training of their use.

Comprehensive wholeness is the creed, the antidote to broken porcelain everywhere.

The day hearkens, and swiftly shall arrive, when dreams will take on flesh and hardwood.

The place of healing and retreat will be established, like a waterfall springing, pouring, surging forth onto barren, cracked, gasping land. She, the pioneer to birth this sanctuary.

Peering out over endless sea and fathomless skies, a ship drifts, sails up, propelled onward.

On the sill of an open window sits an open diary pregnant with possibilities, tactics, dreams, and determination that shall one day give wing, as the pages themselves lift free from binding

Like feathers of birds, they’ll soar into cerulean skies, words falling off pages

Like seeds into dark waters below, sprouting, roots thrusting deep to murky bottoms, leaves

stretching high into firmament, islands forming, spreading out,

beacons of hope in a sea of drifters.

The training is now, for days that may find her brought before kings.

Discipline, degrees, writers hand, exhausted eyes that ache from studies, plowing each credit:

All rungs on the ladder towards what calls incessantly in her spirit. You must. Go on.

The cloak of anonymity will melt off, revealing the true nature — call of destiny;

No more hiding. Her resolve unswerving, faithful to the high calling.

So high not even she comprehends the vastness or ramifications of its realization.

Glimpses of magnificent and dangerous futures are her provocative clues.

A transcendent voice echoes on the wind; her own,

Projected into the future and echoing back to now; take heart soul.

A time will come when all will be answered, no rock unturned.

Please yourself to bask a moment in this certainty. In some things,

We can trust.

Choices Exist

Choices Exist (written in my creative writing class during an exercise)

by Emma Doyle

 

choices exist; regret, twenty-twenty

joy and consequences exist;

certainty exists; doubt, doubt’s children;

love exists; truth, faithfulness,

depth, trust, peace and knowing

exist, and the path, the path

I Am

I Am (an original poem from 7 years ago)

 

Ponderings, wonderings

Your thoughts are never far from me

As Your waves progress on my digressing shores

Concaving my borders, pounding at the corners

Rearranging my understanding

Dismantalling my boundaries

Calmly You take my hand, and say

Be still, and know

I Am

 

I am the One who shielded you in the womb

when your father was angry,

your mother in emotional agony

I am the One who walked with you to school

with your nose in a book, thinkin’ no one understood

I had your back when kids taunted and teased

their narrow upbringing incurring judgemental thinking, diseased

like a virus it spreads from mouth to mouth

each one in turn, tearing you down, tearing you down

I am the One who held your broken soul

as your body trembled with tears, a grief untold…

anticipating, dreading the storm still to unfold

I was there as family bonds were being torn

when life was ripping at the seams

your heart shattered china on the floor

I was holding you together

woven safe inside of Me,

deeper still I weave

I am the One who perceives you intimately

designed you intentionally, takes delight in you multi-dimensionally

I am the One who can take the warped and fractured memories,

turning them into mosaic masterpieces, your pain now the centrepieces of beauty

in this saga of life, unpredictable and so shakable

I am the One who knows all your unasked questions yet still hopes you’ll ask

I am Truth and Revelation if you were only willing to be wrong and teachable in class

I am the Great Teacher, so gentle and wise, I won’t punish you for not knowing,

but I will gently emphasize the highlighted bits you need to believe,

in order to be free from deception, distorted thinking,

tinted lenses

faith the key, you keep refusin’ all the while banging on the door in confusion

I am the One itching to take off your glasses and give you a taste of clarity and heavenly places

 

Break the Silence

Absolutely stunning. This song speaks to the oppression, dystopia, and anomie of our culture and the world we live in. There are so many twisted, broken, evil injustices present at every level of society. From commercialism and materialism that markets the cheap items we buy on the backs of slave labour, to the trafficked human beings being sold for nothing more than their flesh, to the multinational corporations taking over entire countries and bankrupting them into poverty and dependency on the world superpowers, wiping out their natural resources and making them dependent on imported junk……. this song speaks to the deafening silence of these issues that so few people are willing to speak up against. Listen to the song. Hear the mournful words and tone. Then as it builds, his voice becomes this fierce prophetic cry, angry about the silence that should not be. Hear the paradox of this song as he is singing about silence but with the full power, force, and passion of his voice and heart. 

My exhortation of hope: Speak up. Break the silence. God gave you a voice; use it. In whatever sphere of influence you are in, don’t be afraid to use your voice to speak truth, advocate for justice, and do whatever is in your power to do to break the silence.

 

I recently spoke with a friend about this new trend of “branding yourself” in todays multimedia world. He said that each of us has a unique voice and as we find that voice, the world needs to hear what we have to say. There is a way to use social media strategically without becoming obsessed or wasting time on it needlessly. When you have something inside you that needs to get out, that wants to speak to the masses, the only way to do that in todays world is to use platforms that are culturally relevant. So here I am, on this journey of learning to embrace media platforms (rather than despise them), and discover how I can use them to break the silence with the unique song and voice I’ve been given.

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”  —-Martin Luther King.

 

I Wait

I am currently taking a creative writing class as a fun elective. I realized that I have not written any new poetry or blogs in quite some time! It kind of stopped after I started university two years ago. Taking this creative writing class, it just struck me today how a huge part of me has been dormant and not allowed to thrive or grow since I stopped writing….and that is sad. Today I was opening up some old poetry I’ve written over the years and thought I’d start sharing a few pieces on my blog to throw in some variety and help me post more frequently. Enjoy!

 

I Wait

 Observing the leaves turn

and the birds fly south

children in knit scarves

I wait

 

Another engagement

Another wedding

Another new baby

I wait

 

The carpets fade

Styles morph & recycle

Seeds die & plants grow

I wait

 

People move on

I write a few new songs

Paint a fresh canvas

the acrylics dry

I wait

 

My body makes slight changes

I exercise a bit more

Understanding grows

I know so little

I wait

 

Waiting for a dream or two

waiting for a family, sure

but mostly,

I wait on You

 

You said if I wait on You

I’ll see my strength renewed

I’ll be caught up on your wings and soar

There’s much to see

from your eternal view

I wait

 

I trust Your words

resting quietly in the reassurance

that You cannot lie and are only faithful

I wait

In contentment, quiet, and patient trust

Drowning in the love of Your eyes

fixed on mine

I wait

 

by Emma Doyle

Sept 2, 2014

The Beautiful Echo — “Finding Myself”

I wrote this in response to someone asking me my take on how a person “finds oneself.”

In my personal experience and from observing the lives of close family and friends around me there is an echo that every human being is chasing their whole lives…ever seeking to find the source of that echo. They hear the echo all over the place, bouncing off rocks, people, experiences, hinted at in songs, poetry, folk legends, ancient transcripts, in the mountains, valleys and jungles. They chase the haunting sounds and whispers of truth, each time arriving at a new location thinking that THIS rock must be the one where it came from… but it is just another shadow, another echo of the original source.  Some people come to conclude that the great truth they were missing all along was that the echo came from them and they are the original source of the beautiful mystery. (How terribly disappointing!)

My journey in finding my true identity has had everything to do with realizing that I am not the source of the beautiful echo. There is a greater source that is as mysterious as He is eternal, more complete and perfect and wholesome and full of Love than I could ever have dreamed. I could spend my whole life chasing the echos all the while denying that there is even any one true source, and insisting that every person alive is the source. Yet if I am completely honest with myself, I cannot deny that the beautiful echo I keep hearing has a distinct identity behind it, a very original and personal tone…. it simply cannot be anyone and everyone. It has to be a person. The source of this echo wants me to follow the clues in the songs to the Originator, the Author. 

My identity is only found in Him. As a human being, left to my own devices and ways, I am as fickle and changing as anyone. I am self-serving, self-focussed, independent, isolated, prideful, fearful, uncertain, and my moral code would change as circumstances and my feelings demanded. I only started to learn who I really was when I embarked on a journey of relationship with the Source of all the beautiful echos of eternity that are whispering around us constantly…which we sometimes tune into if we are listening and seeking. Who I am is found in the Source of all life and His Spirit is in me… the fruit of that is a new identity which consists of selflessness, a humble heart, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, long-suffering, and self control. 

Here is the beauty of it. If I am ever struggling with who I am I always have these consistent, solid, unchanging truths to return to. I no longer have to be like a roller coaster going up and down or a boat without an anchor tossed throughout the sea by the wind and waves. A boat cannot be anchored to itself, or it will continue to be tossed about by the storms (of life) without mercy. Only when the boat concedes to the existence of something bigger than itself (the land at the bottom of the sea) and chooses to drop it’s anchor and secure itself to that land… only then will it be secure, unmoving and at peace. 

In conclusion, being true to myself actually starts with me asking the Source of that echo and all life “who do you say that I am?” … and then letting that truth sink deep into my spirit and soul. It means renouncing all the lies of who the world might say that I am (or have to be) or all the other voices throwing in their opinions and words that bring death and disillusion. It is not about finding all the answers within myself. I am so finite and limited in my knowledge and experiences. It is a continual process of throwing my hands up in surrender, laying down my pride, and admitting that I actually don’t have all the answers…. but I am in relationship with the One who does and my contentment with life directly correlates with how much I am trusting Him as I follow Him. 

I am not in control and I am totally at peace with that. We live in a world full of wonder and beautiful mysteries and truths to be discovered and my goal is to never lose the wonder and faith that children have before they become tainted by life and letdowns. There is a very sweet age of childhood before children learn what it is to be embarrassed or self-conscious. They are just themselves and they make no apologies for their authenticity. That is my goal and desire. To live authentically, trusting and full of hope, believing the best in people and walking out the destiny I have been given that is so much bigger than just one person, so much bigger than me. It’s not about me. That’s actually a huge relief. It takes the pressure off of feeling the need to perform or prove myself. It is all about the Source of that beautiful echo, and my purpose lies in letting my life, words, and actions point others to the Source of the beautiful echo that haunts and beckons every soul every to walk the earth. 

 

I found myself when I found Him.

Contentment & Boundaries

“There is an inexhaustibility to contentment when one lives within the precepts of God’s intended purpose for life. That is what I like to call perpetual novelty or boundless wonder.” – Ravi Zacharias

 

Whoa. If that doesn’t completely challenge the status quo of our culture today, I don’t know what does. It also challenges me personally to intentionally live within God’s purpose for my life.

We live in a culture where living without any concrete set of morals is the norm, and changing one’s values to adapt to new circumstances and desires is perfectly acceptable. A Christian who stands by their values and doesn’t bend to cultural peer pressure is labeled a “religious zealot” or a “conservative prude.” What if it’s just integrity?

When I was around 18 and a guy found out I had never dated or kissed anyone, he called me a prude; He didn’t mean it as a compliment. When I went and looked up the definition of it I wasn’t offended. There are worse things a girl could be called.

I want contentment with whatever season I find myself in. To live with the wonder and faith of a child, trusting that my Father will take care of me. It all starts with living in His precepts. We cannot do that if we are not reading and meditating on these precepts, carving them into our hearts.

K Chesterton quips that before you remove any fence, always first ask why it was put there in the first place. So many people just want to rip down all the fences, rules, traditions, and what they consider outdated, irrelevant, conservative laws. They fail to ask the vital question of why such parameters were there in the first place. Zacharias says, “…every boundary set by God points to something worth protecting, and if you are to protect the wonder of existence, God’s instruction book is the place to turn. Anyone who thinks he or she can place boundaries arbitrarily will either destroy the enchantment of life or else wear him – or herself into exhaustion.

In the context of purity and setting healthy boundaries in relationships, how I allow men to talk to me, and in how I carry myself, it all comes down to one question I have to ask myself. Am I worth protecting? Is my purity, integrity, and God-given value worth fighting for and defending? It’s also important to ask oneself, “Am I protecting and respecting the other person’s value?”

I once heard someone speaking on boundaries in relationships and they said something I’ll never forget. (At the time I was struggling with how to set healthy boundaries with my dad without shutting him out completely.) Boundaries are not a wall to keep people out. They are actually a doorway and invitation to relationship. They tell people how they can be a part of my life and what the parameters are. This rocked me. It started a whole paradigm shift that I didn’t even know I needed! Just like a family who refuses to discipline their child (or does so inconsistently) will lead to both the parents and child being exhausted and frustrated, living without boundaries is exhausting. Clear expectations allow no room for confusion and actually create a safety net for relationships to thrive within. It is more loving to have and maintain clear boundaries in life than to let people walk all over you.

I have had multiple situations where I’ve made a new friend or met a guy who, despite me verbalizing very clearly what my boundaries were, somehow decided I didn’t really mean what I said. They kept testing and pushing past my boundaries in ways that took me by surprise but also left me frozen with how to respond. It was, quite simply, blatant disrespect. Some people use the excuse that they are someone who likes to push/test the boundaries with everyone and talk as if it’s a good thing. I wonder if that could also be translated into people who believe their wants and desires override everyone else’s?

There is a way to be someone who tests the limits without stealing dignity or respect from other people. Successful entrepreneurs are a great example. They innovate, think outside of the box, defy the status quo, and are often downright blunt; but they are also respectful of others and have a way of making others feel great about themselves by inspiring them to be their best. They don’t prey on the vulnerabilities of others, but rather they push people to be their best by empowering them. Rather than stealing value, they add value.

When I think of testing boundaries, it is usually in a context where they have not yet been clearly laid out. The testing is for the purpose of establishing what the ground rules are so there is something to follow. When you’ve already laid out the ground rules of what makes you feel safe and what is not ok, and then someone crosses the line anyways, it is an act of disrespect and selfishness. I also have to be brutally honest and ask myself, for all the times I was in a relationship and I let my boyfriend cross the line without speaking up, what did that say about me? It’s not enough to say that he didn’t value me enough to fight his desires and hold back. I also have to admit that I didn’t value myself enough to fight my own desires and the fear of pushing him away if I did say something. They might have been small concessions on the grand scale of intimacy, but the standard I must live up to is the one God gave me, not the worlds.