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There have been identifiable moments of changes in the trajectory of my life. Some are obvious such as the day my first child was born or the day I committed my life to one man for the rest of my life. Others are no less clear but more difficult to explain, I think. I am experiencing such a shift in my life right now. Words don’t easily describe the beginning or even the process but here is today’s attempt to make bring a little order to the jumbled thoughts in my head. (Actually, it is take two of the attempt … take one is floating out in cyber space somewhere)

It is appropriate that I attended the Deep Shift Everything Must Change conference this weekend in Charlotte. Initially, I just went to be with my Spirit-Sister, Joy but I left being challenged to instigate change, to become change, to inspire change. Key word there: Challenged. This wasn’t an easy conference; definitely no mountain top experience. It was an eye opening, remorseful confrontation with personal crises, community crises, church crises and global crises. Though there was a challenge of the revolution of hope, I was finding it difficult to hold onto hope.

Friday brought me face to face with the fact that I have fallen into slumber. Waking up is painful because much is required of me. My spirit prefers to hibernate and check in when the work is done, when the promise of Spring is upon us. But change will not happen without me. It may sound pridefully bold to say that but I think my point is understood. There is no comforting opportunity to stay bundled up underground; I must put action to the conviction of my faith.

By Saturday morning, apathy and lethargy were battling inside me. I was really struggling with a cynical spirit, asking myself, “What’s the point?” I was having a difficult time finding value in what I could do; I am just one little person so what difference could I make. My life is busy with husband, children, laundry and what little bit of art I can squeeze out. What does that matter?

Faith in Work was one of the sponsors of the conference. They state their vision as “empowering people to explore, discern and act on their many gifts and calls in the complexity of their daily lives for the good of God’s world” I told the representative that I was cautiously curious about all of that. I don’t trust myself to discern my call anymore. In my past, my call was defined for me and I am just not sure I am doing anything for the good of God’s world.

This depressing thought process stayed with me all morning and into the afternoon. I wasn’t expecting to take anything of worth away from the conference at that point. After lunch we opened our art books, Nude Truths, and began a meditation of images, spoken words and music. It was then that my heart began to rupture:

3. “But how do we know a cocoon from within? From that safe place half-light and half-life, of waiting and wondering? Only in the breaking open, in the flying free.”

8. “Memories take root in our minds, innocenly and automatically. Unexplored, unquestioned, unchallenged, they grow tall and desne, tangled and dangerous.”

9. Descend. Risk the pain. Unearth the memory. Set it into your foundation as a building block. Then give it a name — past.”

13. “When what we have believed lies shattered at our feet, we reach out for the idea, the image, the inspiration that comes from somewhere and changes everything. But we cannot pluck with clenched hand.”

19. Dare I leave the safe ground of cynicism? The security of despair? Dare I risk believing the world could be different? That I could change?

As the words echoed in my ears, my heart began to race. My palms were sweating, tears threatened to overtake me, my stomach was protesting the lunch I had just consumed. This intense response felt strangely familiar though.

Almost two years ago, I sat in the corner of an art studio, exhibiting the same reactions. After months of conversing with an artist friend about the creative spirit, I was facing my fears for the first time. She placed me before a board, gave me paint and some brushes and waited for me to break through the walls that held me captive. I battled fear of failure, internal arguments that I was too old to begin something new, paralyzing quest of perfection. Finally, I picked up the brush and made my first stroke. I was 42 years old when I took my first steps toward being an artist.

Back to the conference. Here I sat, wondering about my response to the reading and wondering where God was leading and what call he might actually have for me when Brian McLaren gave us our final directive for the day. Unclench the hand, write on the palm what God had given as instruction, encouragement, inspiration. For me, it was four words:

So simple. So difficult. Pick up the brush. I just sensed Him destroying all of my excuses, all of my procrastinations, all of the perceived reasons I couldn’t do whatever He would ask of me. Sometimes, I wish He would be a bit more specific about His plans for me but that’s not God’s style. He seems to want my trust, my time spent listening, my simple obedience.

As to my calling and whether or not I can make a difference, it doesn’t matter anymore. I am not defining it that way. If it’s the right thing to do, I must do it. If it brings beauty today, I must make it. If what I do today, is destroyed tomorrow (or in five minutes), I must still do it anyway.

I stumbled across a video today which was the catalyst for writing this whole post. Originally I imbedded it here but for some reason when you clicked play, it said the video is no longer available. If you visit this link, it is still available:

Anyway by Martina McBride.

You can spend your whole life building
Something from nothin’
One storm can come and blow it all away
Build it anywayYou can chase a dream
That seems so out of reach
And you know it might not ever come your way
Dream it anywayGod is great
But sometimes life ain’t good
And when I pray
It doesn’t always turn out like I think it should
But I do it anyway
I do it anywayThis world’s gone crazy
It’s hard to believe
That tomorrow will be better than today
Believe it anyway

You can love someone with all your heart
For all the right reasons
In a moment they can choose to walk away
Love ‘em anyway

God is great
But sometimes life ain’t good
And when I pray
It doesn’t always turn out like I think it should
But I do it anyway
I do it anyways

You can pour your soul out singing
A song you believe in
That tomorrow they’ll forget you ever sang
Sing it anyway
Yea – sing it anyway

I sing
I dream
I love
OH Anyway

Grace and Peace.

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