So this last year I worked my way through the Creating Your Life Plan curriculum that Donald Miller (author of Blue Like Jazz, Scary Close, and a bunch of other great books) made to help people live a better story. It was fun, I felt like I was finally figuring out my life. I kind of thought I would know everything I should do after I finished the curriculum. But here I am, half a year later still confused about life.
Anyway, one of the exercises was drawing my own timeline. On the timeline I was supposed to put my positive and negative “turns” – basically life changing events. As I looked over my life turns Don wanted me to try and find a theme that wove its way through these events. This is called my life theme, basically what my life is about at the time. It’s something I can look at each day and try to live out – sort of way to snap back to what’s really important in the here and now.
I finished doing this exercise again just a few minutes ago, and as I look over the good and bad that I’ve been through, the theme that comes to mind is living inside out. Let me explain a little:
- By living I mean, well, living. You know, sucking in air, pushing some carbon dioxide out. Walking. Talking. Laughing. This one’s actually pretty easy, I don’t need to explain anymore.
- Inside refers to anything going on in our heart, soul, and mind. It’s your emotions and thoughts and opinions. It’s your deepest need for love and belonging, and your shallow want for a little more dark chocolate. It’s what ticks you off and makes you cry and tickles your belly with laughter. It’s your passions and dreams and goals. It’s the original you.
- Out simply means giving to the world all of that – your insides. This is all about transparency, inviting the people you trust to press their face against the one-way mirror of your soul, and showing everyone else your truest, original self. This could be as easy as saying you would rather watch Up instead of Insidious 3. Or it could be as difficult as telling a friend that you really need to know they care about you.
The point of all of this is rather simple – being genuine. I tend to internalize a lot – my thoughts, my feelings, my preferences – because I’m scared of something. And lately I’m learning that this fear is rooted in my need for love. I worry that if I truly live inside out, if the world saw the true me, the one that likes Disney movies more than horror movies, can’t wait to be married and have a family, hates rollercoasters, is really confused about what he should be doing with his life right now, and wants to write a book – if that guy ever got out, maybe people would think he’s soft or lazy or pretentious. And that scares me.
But you know what? Maybe some people wouldn’t think that. Maybe there’s people out there that will scoop up all of the silly, confused, messy me and love me nonetheless. Actually I know there is – I have parents and family that do this every day. I have friends who still invite me to grill outs after years of me saying “maybe” and not showing up. I have a God who decides to breathe his sacred life into me every morning, even after seeing how bad I messed up yesterday and the weeks before that and the years before that and so on. There’s people like that for you too.
God made you and me to be genuine, the men and women that he imagined before we were born, because he made us with a little bit of himself in us. And each morning that he gives us breath is another chance to find out what that means. But if we keep just living inside then we miss out and the whole world misses out on a little bit of the imagination of God. That’s a shame, isn’t it?
So think about your own life theme, what about himself might God be trying to show the world through little ol’ you? What’s one thing you can do today to live inside out?