Live Your Own Life…


living-your-own-life2In this country and perhaps other countries, people have been forced into a performance based existence. The message, all have been asked to conform to is a message that purports your value is based upon the things that you do. The higher your achievements, the more your success, the more superior person you must be. Professions are ranked whereby doctors and lawyers are notably above teachers and laborers. In this, people have been pressed to do better and be better leaving themselves perpetually disappointed and chronically discouraged often falling short of societal expectations. Folks even endeavor to add performance measures to their relationship with God and end up doing all sorts of things they really don’t want to do in the name of being good and acceptable before Him. Namely, the harder you work to be approved, the more of God’s favor you will enjoy in your life. And this, as can be found in all performance based systems of the world, leaves a man or a woman fractured and broken in terms of their value and ever in need of remedy and repair!  Thus knowing, we ought to have the manhood to make our own choices and in the end, live our own life. Are you living your own life?

Where did we ever get that idea that our persistent need to perform well was to be so closely aligned to the value we have as people on the earth? The value of a person has been assigned by God who views all of His creatures with the same love and acceptance. We need not prove ourselves to anyone. Neither should we allow ourselves to fall prey to people’s judgments and requirements for their approval. The things we choose to do in life; the direction we purpose to go; the decisions we make, the thousandfold decisions we must make, should always rest squarely with ourselves alone coming directly from our own volition and blessed free will. Trying to live your life in accordance with other people’s expectations leads only to a miserable life. Accordingly, every time you judge yourself, every time you lower your opinion of yourself, every time you reduce your value in comparison to another, you do yourself and the great God that made you a disservice. You are saying, in effect, that God somehow made in a mistake in the crafting of your own life, else left you without some advantage others freely enjoy. And in your confusion you task yourself with all manner of requirements you must fulfill in order to be acceptable both to men and to God, neither of which has been required of you. You will never please all the people and you never need to please the God who is already pleased with you. Live your own life.

Every man, every woman that is among us is absolutely unique and unmatched in terms of their individuality. Each has something to offer that they and only they can provide. Each person’s taste is wholly different, though similar in places, and every person’s pleasures and aversions are distinct. To try and live your life chasing other people’s desires or to perform in accordance with what another thinks is right for you is certain destruction of every chance at happiness. Happiness can only be obtained by choosing your own path and even then by first basing your value not on what you do but who you are. You need not further consume yourself with an endless list of duties required to be performed or any other activity that steals away your repose. People, maybe even you, drive themselves to exhaustion in order to check all the boxes and finish all the lists. You must strive to be the best mom, the best professional, the best wife and add to that the best looking, the most fit infinitum at all times in all ways. You have to be the most successful, have the biggest house, drive the best car while adorning yourself with the muscles of a twenty year old, a full head of hair and the ability to fix all that might be broken, knowing all that must be known. Perform, perform, perform, do, do, do… The things you might like, the areas of life that turn you on, the experiences you secretly wish for all must be sublimated under the mighty hand of accomplishment and success. In this, we don’t actually live our lives but live someone else’s life, hoping somewhere down the road the paths might cross. It’s time to live your own life…

Living your own life requires that you be honest with yourself. It suggests you take back what is yours instead of playing to the crowd, trying to please the crowd, seeking the approval of the crowd. The problem with performance is that it suggests you must perform at all times in all ways. You never quite have time to take off the mask, to get off the stage, to cease from performing and just be. You feel as if your quiet time must be filled with noise and your unproductive time (so called) be filled with productivity. The job requires forty or fifty hours per week and when the job is silent, the remaining time must be filled with to do lists and other work to be done. And while work is always noble and necessary, just how much of you want to do has always been up to you. Somewhere someone tricked us into believing that the majority of our efforts must be concentrated on the things we enjoy less leaving a small percentage of time for things we enjoy more. We chastise ourselves for sleeping in, for being ill, for not giving one hundred percent even when all we have left is maybe fifty percent. We measure and evaluate and scrutinize ourselves assigning negative motives for pursuit of things we like and dogged responsibility for the things we must simply endure. It is no wonder we remain exhausted and unenthused. We need to get off the treadmill and refuse to get back on it. The things we actually must do are far less than we may have assigned. In order to live our best life, we must live our own life. We have to protect and guard our free will and make choices not out of the fear of what we have to do in favor of things we want to do that we chose and that we support. God has made us free to choose without fear of retribution as error carries within it its own lessons. To live your own life is to choose for yourself!

Perhaps at the very heighth of performance behavior is the behaviors people have falsely associated with God and morality and whatever it is you want to call the things that plague our souls begging to be completed by the power of our own hands. They act as if God maintains a giant ledger anxious to collect owed money and funds in arrears. They seek improvement where improvement is not possible and reject God’s grace for the life they must perform now. They work the works of hypocrisy assuming God is unaware of the behavior absent their hearts. They say words they don’t want to say, do things they do not want to do, perform works they would rather not perform all in the name of pleasing God; God who is already pleased with them. The harder they work and strive and say no and deny and hold back and refuse, the more they fail never considering that their behavior exposes the lack of value they feel in their hearts. They work to be approved never considering the futility of the task. They dishonor God not by doing unworthy works but by thinking they can outwork grace; God’s unearned and unmerited divine favor in their lives. And most sadly of all, they think their value before God is based on their behavior in this life, behaviors that can somehow be shaped into holiness before Him. They ignore the sacrifice of their Savior and count his finished work unfinished and needing further revisions. It would be better for them to choose nothing at all than to work with hearts that are not in it; doing works they neither endorse or enjoy. Living your own life is not to live at cross purposes with God, but to live honestly and authentically, being true to yourself and true to those with whom you might encounter. It’s about loving God first and loving yourself also. It’s about knowing your value and not allowing it to be dwindled away on things that do no matter; things that do not count. Live your own life with God. He meets you where you are!

It is certainly not easy to break the chains of bondage and fear based requirements, but it can be done and do it you must. Your happiness depends upon it. The world with its endless checklists and comparisons will exhaust you. You will never measure up in the world’s eyes no matter how hard you work. Instead you must decide to remain true to yourself and stop breaking and folding yourself for others. Your ideas, your thoughts are not always wrong and the direction you secretly dream of is the direction you must go. Your value before God is estimable and it is your job to act like it. Stop performing. Get off the treadmill. Give yourself a break and just be the person you want to be. It doesn’t need to be any harder than that! Live your own life, my friends.

Just some good thoughts…

You Have to Do You…


In a world that values conformity, you owe it to yourself to be an individual. Much of the struggle you face centers around this nagging compulsion to fit in and be, as much as is possible, just like everyone else. People have become afraid of their own thoughts and their own ideas. We doubt ourselves and close ourselves off to opportunities. We dismiss our good ideas as foolish and inconsequential. We know we have something powerful and impacting to offer the world, but instead of offering it, we try to find ways to squeeze it into so called accepted norms and approved practices. We live forever bound under the thumbs of other people’s expectations for us. You lament over your lack of personal fulfillment, yet very little of what you do is based on what you really want to do. In this, people spend a lifetime working jobs they do not like, following activities they do not enjoy and opting for things promising the most safety and socially endorsed stamp of approval. In this we fail to live; to really live life in its full effulgence and infinite variety. In this we ultimately fail ourselves. You have to do you!

If you think about it, we have all been schooled to not make waves and align ourselves with the status quo. It is often clear to us that the world has lost its collective mind, yet we painfully endeavor to assimilate its concepts into our own being, accepting and promoting what the world says to promote. We never dare ask ourselves what we think or worse have the confidence to trust in our own assertions. Even common sense conclusions are discarded in favor of a little research into what it is we actually ought to think. The world has desensitized us towards the things that truly matter and instead replaced those things with an unfathomable load of things that do not matter. We live (or exist) blown from pillar to post, minds crammed full of nothingness and pointlessness. On those rare occasions when we seize upon the boldness to say what we actually like or insist on something we want for our lives, then suddenly we become the crazy ones. Playing a role as someone else exhausting. Pretending to be someone we are not is damn hard work. Living our lives according to someone else’s dictates and rules is misery; pure misery. If you want to be happy, you have to do you.

So what does it mean to do you? It means to stop living as an imposter and start living as your own authentic self. What do you like to do? What turns you on? What makes your heart beat a little faster? Those things are the things you must do. You don’t have to live amongst the never ending judgments of the world. Honestly, you don’t even need one person’s approval. Sadly, this is man’s day of judgment and that judgment runs roughshod over people’s hearts, especially those daring to pursue their own uniqueness and individuality. We are besieged with judgment concerning every choice we make. Yet what is our life if we are no longer free to make our own choices? We don’t buy the house or the car we like, we buy the house or the car we ought to like, the one that communicates our status or success. That’s not to say that we can’t have nice things, but rather what is behind the choices we are making. Would I make that same purchase in a world with no other people? That’s the acid test. We get on that wheel of things and it is damn hard to get off of it. We devote ourselves to making money at all costs, but don’t devote ourselves to using the money for things that benefit us and other people. We don’t take the time we need to enjoy ourselves or our families, but instead grind toward some future day when we can finally do everything we ever wanted to do, but perhaps no longer have the energy to pursue it. Having the courage to do you means being willing to do your life exactly how you want to do it. It means taking the vacation now. It means writing your book now. It means pursuing your great business idea now. It means taking the time again to invest in your important relationships and stop letting everything else come ahead of them in importance. None of the cool stuff you were able to purchase is going to matter when the end of your life draws near, only the people you have been privileged to love and receive love from. Doing you means doing those things that matter the most to you and stop doing the stuff that doesn’t matter. Honor your own heart. Honor the people you love. Honor the things you hold most dear. You have to do you.

The risk involved with being bold enough to do you is nothing compared to the risk you face of living a life not lived well, well as defined by you and you alone. You are smart enough to recognize the things that bring you pain and cease from doing those things. You are wise enough to discern your own unhappiness and lack of fulfillment. You know in your heart when something isn’t good for you no matter how many people might say otherwise. Trust that. Honor that. Believe that. It seems people think that God is always behind the things you don’t want to do trying to force you to do them. I believe that God is behind the things that turn you on; those things meant for you and you only. Where do you think those exquisite dreams came from? Could it be the thing that most excites your heart to do is exactly what it is God wants you to do? Every man has value. Every woman has something unique to offer to the world. We all have a part in this thing together and every thing we do in accordance with our hearts, will be that which is best supplied by us. In the end, you have to do you. Won’t you do it to help us all?

Just some good thoughts…

You, the Unique, Wonderful You!


Bok-Festival-AzaleasI found myself gazing incredulously at God’s creation as the low light of an early spring evening glimmered softly upon the plant foliage, making the early blooms more vivid and more true. From innumerable shades of green contrasted against the deepest purples, richest reds and sparkling yellows, to the willow tree, bent over, chock full of the weight of a million, delicate white and pink blooms, all seemed to speak to my heart and encourage my soul. They adjured me to observe the Master’s hand, impregnated with a uniqueness carried out over a million iterations. And as I paused in quiet revelry, I understood. Everything that God has made is singularly, unique and in that unsurpassed majesty, is wonderful beyond comprehension. That, my dear friends, is the uniqueness that is you, the wonderful, unrivaled, unparalleled you!

You are a miracle of all miracles in that there is no-one just like you on the entire earth. Imagine for a moment the exquisite combination of genes, environment and upbringing that brought you into play. You couldn’t replicate it if you tried. There’s none that thinks like you; processes information like you or comes to the exact conclusions that you do. You are a one of kind model from a factory where all are of one kind. Your heart, your fears, your love, your tastes and your aversions combined have no match. You are on this earth to bring forth all that you truly are and you alone have been assigned your role. The world doesn’t need another Ghandi or Martin Luther or Mother Theresa, it needs you. They have already done their own work and for that the world is grateful. What remains only is the work that you must do.

You know, most people abhor their uniqueness in a futile quest to be just like everyone else. Their scarlet hair is an affront to them and instead of rejoicing in their rarity, they seek dyes and colors approved by the majority. A slightly lower ear, a cowlick, or a different color eye becomes a hinderance to happiness and fulfillment. And age exacerbates the process as millions cleave to the fleeting look of youth never once considering the mighty oak, scarred from the storms, battered, yet standing firm and proud in its place. People want to fit in and blend and follow plans someone else has made. They want to walk in paths well defined; fall in love as movie stars do; work for businesses whose owners are already rich; falling in line with all the rest, in perpetual pursuit of someone else’s life. And as they acquiesce and settle, they never once consider the place where they sit as master, living a life of their own making; offering all that they and they alone can bring.

Immediately dismiss the notion that all should be famous or adored or worshipped. Your prize isn’t fame or notoriety, nor does your contribution have to have altered the course of the world. Your gift is the gift of who you are and what you bring to the table that no-one else can offer. Your unique abilities not only bless the creation but they bring back to you joy unspeakable. And as you dare to stand as who you are, unashamed and adamant, you will find yourself immersed in situations and people and environments that need you the most. You never have to find them for they will always find you.

Thus it’s time to let the real you back out again. Be true to yourself. Love what you love and despise what you despise. Don’t hide your tastes or try to downplay your aversions. If you disagree, say so. If something touches your soul, don’t be shy. When others mock you for being true to yourself, their derision is a testimony to their own hidden self, still scared, laying low, clutching the bed covers. How could someone laugh or scorn you for being you. It would be more frightening if you were them!

You see, the systems of the world are pushing everyone on to the same course; a trail that leads nowhere and takes a lifetime to arrive. And the prize for having finished is hundreds of regrets in thousands of wasted days. Meanwhile that song; that dream; that ideal lays buried in your heart ever seeking expression but never having been given opportunity. And we wonder why people are so unfulfilled nowadays… True fulfillment can only come from the real you, expressing yourself in real ways, to a world submerged in illusion.

So, where do you begin? Begin by deciding today that you will never again utter a negative word about yourself. Choose to evaluate situations and circumstances and to eliminate endless self-evaluation. Don’t spend another moment in negative consideration of your own heart or motives or desires. Stop saying no to the things from which your heart says yes. Let your interest be your interest even if completely solitary in scope. Read books that speak to you and you alone. Be yourself unreservedly, immensely, unabashedly. And above it all, love yourself like you used to, without judgment and criticism and complaint. Love your flaws and your frailties and your foolishnesses. Love your quirks, your eclectic whims and even your absurdities. When is the last time you just loved yourself for who you are without apology? That is who you are after…

As the sun started to set and as the gentle, lowering light began to dissipate; as the foliage lost its radiance and the flower colors dimmed to shades of gray and black, and as the beckoning willow hid it’s tender blossoms for the night ahead, I couldn’t help but remember that our uniqueness is something that will never change and the world deserves to see it in the light of day…

Just some good thoughts…

Do You Approve…of Yourself?


226ASP6179944780The world we live in is an approval machine! From birth forward we were all taught suggested behaviors, traits, personality types to help us gain the approval of others. As we matured, we started getting additional messages from the ‘system of things’ on how to continue garnering approval. I suppose it makes sense, in some respects, that if you are going to live in a society then you have to abide by certain societal expectations to be accepted. You generally have to wear clothes and you’re not allowed to pick your nose in public, for example. On the surface, it doesn’t seem like there’s anything wrong with wanting to be accepted. I mean who doesn’t like receiving approval from others? But, there’s something infinitely more important that being approved by others and that is being approved of yourself. Do you approve of yourself? That’s a question worth answering!

You being the only you, you have; begs the question, do you like yourself? I’m not talking about publicly where we’ve all been taught to develop a cheery public persona. I’m talking about you, home alone, staring in that mirror. Do you love and accept how that guy or gal acts? Or are you pissed at that image for its apparent failure to live up to…wait for it…what everyone else thinks he or she should do?

You may not realize it, but all of us were conditioned very early on to seek the approval of our parents. It wasn’t such a bad idea because we were children and didn’t have the wherewithal to make good choices yet. Some parents gave you unconditional approval. Some parents provided you with conditional approval or said another way, “If you obey what I say, you are good. If you disobey what I say, you are bad!” Some parents gave you very little or no approval no matter what you did. And finally, some parents were just not there! If you were unfortunate enough not to get the unconditional love parents, as many people were, then you learned very early on in life that you needed other people’s approval to be okay. Then your life mission became, what do I need to do to be approved by others?

So, here’s the rub. Assuming you are an adult now, you have to learn to get approval from that person staring back from the glass:

The Man in the Glass

When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you king for a day
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself
And see what that man has to say.

For it isn’t your father, or mother, or wife
Whose judgment upon you must pass
The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one staring back from the glass.

He’s the fellow to please – never mind all the rest
For he’s with you, clear to the end
And you’ve passed your most difficult, dangerous test
If the man in the glass is your friend.

You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years
And get pats on the back as you pass
But your final reward will be heartache and tears
If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.

~ Peter Dale Wimbrow Sr.

You see, us humans are a peculiar breed. We all have our own weirdness, quirks and undesirable characteristics. We all make mistakes. We’ve all zigged when we should have zagged! We are all imperfect and have all been broken in some respect. The trouble is we don’t want anyone to know it. So we parade around in our masks literally hating the person we are or have become. Our love and acceptance of ourselves is conditional and we don’t meet the conditions. It may have worked to shape your behavior when you were five, but it doesn’t work now!

You have to get to the place where you approve of you, no matter what. “He’s the fellow to please – never mind all the rest, for he’s with you, clear to the end. And you’ve passed your most difficult, dangerous test, if the man in the glass is your friend.” Make your mind, your friend!

Now track with me here for a minute… Let’s say you’ve done some pretty gnarly deeds. Let’s imagine you’ve hurt people in catastrophic ways. Or maybe you just haven’t lived up to what you know in your heart you should be. In any case and in every case, you don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of ever doing better or being better or getting better if you don’t love that person in the mirror. No one beats themselves into becoming something admirable. Instead, self loathing and self hate only issue in more awful results. The past is passed and cannot exist in the present unless you make it so (including your upbringing). What is in the present is you, with all of your faults and failings and human frailties. Love that guy anyway! Love that gal anyway! Approve of yourself anyway!

You just make the decision that you are worth something. You matter. You do have value. You’re not of value because you do everything right. You have value because you are a living, breathing human being, formed and made by God Himself.

Step out of the ‘wheel of things’ and finally recognize that you don’t need other people’s approval to be okay. Stop masquerading, it’s exhausting. Cease changing colors to match the whims and fancies of every person you meet. Do you, be you in all of the glorious you, you can possibly be. The world doesn’t need another me, one is enough ;-). What the world needs is you; the real you; the true you; and nothing but the YOU!

Just some good thoughts…