Sunday, March 29, 2015


There comes a moment when all of the voices in your life become too loud.

My rapper friend L.T.Z. has a song with this chorus: “My mom’s friends say ‘Do what makes you happy.’ My pop’s friends say ‘You look just like your daddy.’ My high school friends say, ‘Man, you still rappin’?’ What kind of friend you gon’ be when you look at me?”

We all live under multiple sets of expectations:

  • Our parents want us to do certain things – and we are lucky when both parents want the same thing.  
  • Our spouses want us to do certain things. 
  • Our bosses want us to do certain extracurricular things.  
  • Our pastors want us to do certain things.  
  • Our fitness trainers
  • Our dietitians
  • Our neighbors
  • Our fellow-PTA members
  • Our mentors.   

All the different streams of advice can become overwhelming.

None of these people are trying to hurt us.  In the worst case scenario, they have a misguided understanding of our role in the world and think we need to behave how they say in order to keep the globe on its axis.  They mean well.  They most likely are under the distinct opinion that this course of action will make you happiest.

But when your boss wants you to take on another project that could lead to a promotion, and your husband wants you to spend more one-on-one time with both him and your middle daughter, and your pastor wants you to lead a small group, you have to look at your calendar and the bags under your eyes and understand that not every person’s advice is relevant at this moment.  Something has to yield.
(In my example, it probably seems obvious to choose family, but our choices aren’t always obvious.)

When faced with several opportunities to do something good, which do you pick? When forced to put one thing you love in front of something else you love, which do you pick?

This is when it’s best to respectfully thank all your wise voices for their advice and get on your knees with your Bible open.  Only God can show you which task or relationship needs your attention right now.  Life is about balance and everything has its time and season.  Every person and every task has seasons of yes, no, and wait.

Lao Tzu is credited with saying, “At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.”

I am guilty of “loving too much,” being interested in and excited by almost anything.  I want to be a teacher whose kids pass their state tests with flying colors and can brilliantly analyze Ayn Rand and Stephenie Meyer and X-Men.  I want to be on the national list of dope poets, listen to all the rap music and a spattering of all other music, and make the leaderboard of Younique cosmetics presenters.  I want to do yoga every damn day, distribute Shaklee health products, coach high school cheer, and rock healthy, huge, natural hair.  I want to co-lead a small group of Christ-followers who are doing everything they can to make earth look like heaven.  And I want to marry a dark-skinned African and have at least three smart, artistic, athletic, loving, well-adjusted kids who function well as a team. And read 50 books in a year (or 25 books every year). And fill out a March Madness bracket as someone who knows which teams are good.  And run a 5k.  And be a weekday vegan who cooks 90% of the meals at home.

Are you starting to see my problem? There’s almost no way in the world to accomplish all these goals at once.  This is a bucket list.  This might be a bucket list and a half, despite the fact that I plan to live to be 100.  And different people from different areas of my life want me to accomplish each of these goals sooner rather than later.

I’m reminded of a scene in the movie Uptown Girls.  Brittany Murphy’s character has a bunch of possessions she claims to love, but she is recently broke and needs the income that selling many of them would bring in.  Her friend tells her she must “streamline. Find your center.” She means: not everything here is truly important to you. Some of it can be “sold” to “pay for” something that is closer to the core of who you are.

Some of us spend too much time underneath others’ words and we have forgotten the strength and intelligence of our highest selves, the selves who are closest to God, who have His words hidden in our hearts.  Some of us have become too invested in things and people that are not essential to us reaching our most important goals.

When confusion comes, take in all the advice, take inventory of all your baggage, then sit down with nothing but the truth and figure out what is truly attached to your core.


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