Because experience seems to be the best teacher, let me start there. I’ve written a lot about listening to the still, small voice or finding the knowing. I’ve considered how to find that voice and I’ve been intentionally experimenting with it this past couple of months. My mind has been pretty hectic this week. My son is on a long vacation with his dad and I am out of my element without him.
There have been many times when I felt like I couldn’t hear the knowing through all of the chatter in my brain. And because I stay pretty busy doing all of the things that keep me afloat, I didn’t have much opportunity for quiet. I wondered if I could find the knowing even though I couldn’t get my brain completely quiet. So I took a different approach. I went about my tasks and I just listened for the nagging. Ha! Nagging sounds pretty negative so let me explain.
I often encounter something—I think it’s usually a desire—that just nags at me. I try to push it back into the recesses of my mind but pretty soon, there it is again, tugging gently on my sleeve, requesting acknowledgement. It’s usually a desire that requires some risk, so I shoo it back into it’s corner and go about my day. And without fail, it’s back again. When this came up the first time this past week, I spent most of a day telling this little desire to go away. It didn’t. Instead it grew. It seemed like a big enough risk that I spent a moment in the evening laying out the reasons for the desire and the reasons why I wanted to ignore it. That still didn’t totally solve it. On paper, I should ignore the desire and let it but, but still it was there. Then, while I was washing the dishes I listened to a coaching call from Jody Moore’s Be Bold program. I heard this advice: “Because I feel like doing it is often the best reason to do anything.” Mic drop.
Why is this so foreign to me? I’ve spent most of my adult life doing things for the “right” reasons. Because it’s the smart thing or the safe thing or because it will help this person or because another person wants me to do it or because maybe God wants me to do it. I think I’m starting to understand the voice of God more clearly now. His voice comes from within me. He is effectively handing me invitations through my desires. My only job is to make space in my life to see these invitations and then to “trust the Inviter” as Glennon Doyle teaches.
So I let this all sink in and I acted. I acted on my desire and it came from a place of love and wanting to honor myself. And I was surprised by the result. I realized that my resistance to acting was based on fear of pain. But pain is there either way. It is painful to resist a true desire. Too many resisted desires turn malignant, creeping into and invading every joy of life. So risking pain to act on a true desire is really no risk at all. In fact, inaction is the riskier move. The result of acting on my true desire was that I honored myself. It didn’t protect me from pain. In fact, in some ways it invited it, but avoiding pain is not the end I seek.
This first experience prepared me for the second. I felt the similar tug of desire. I resisted, but this time for only a moment. Then I decided to trust. I acted. And the result this second time was really unexpected. I had been struggling with feeling lonely and unmotivated. And doing this one thing that felt really stupid and unsafe, effectively throwing me in the way of pain, actually gave me the motivation to rise above it. I felt empowered. I felt my my agency. I honored myself.
I think this is the power of that simple reason—because I want to. I don’t think every desire I feel is the voice of God or even something I should entertain, but I think I need to start listening to those desires that persist. The ones that rise above the chatter. Even if they are small—maybe especially because they are small. The result is a liberated existence, with shoulders that are unburdened from one million tiny, ignored desires.