As my husband and I sat on the porch the other night, staring out at the stars, this thought came to me as if from the mouth of Jesus. "You can live if you want to."
Live. You can live your life, if you want to. Truly, abundantly, vibrantly. You can stop trying to walk the line, worried you are going to step out of place. You can stop tip toeing. You can stop fearing. That's not living. That's dying.
It's like the line from that song, "You can dance if you want to." I think God is inviting us to the dance floor, but we think we can't dance, we are afraid to look like fools, and we don't want to step on any toes. And if we do go out for a dance, we fearfully inspect ourselves. "Am I doing it right?" And He says, "Relax. Enjoy the dance." Because life with Jesus is full of swirls and dips and He will toss you up into the air, but He will always catch you. Sometimes it's slow and close, head on His shoulder... other times it's upbeat and fast and your heart is beating out of your chest, but He's leading and you can follow.
You can dance if you want to. You can live if you want to. You can throw off your shoes. Jesus doesn't need your high heels and Sunday best. He doesn't care if you sing on key. You can sing if you want to. "You can really live if you want to," He reminds me, because I've stopped living. I become a robot fueled by fear and rules, wavering between a strong desire to check all the boxes or rip up the whole dang list.
I sat outside, listening to the crickets sing. It was if my hearing had improved because I threw off all the noise in my head. I don't need to carry all the conversations in my head. I don't need to worry about yesterday or tomorrow or five minutes from now. I'm just doing the next thing. I'm living. Here. Now. Which is the only place we can really live. Yesterday is gone. Why concern ourselves with it? We stress ourselves out by trying to figure out the future, why not trust it to the Father's hands? Why not take those Hands? You can dance if you want to. Why worry about what other people think? This is not their life. Let them live or not live their own.
But I can live if I want to. And I want to. I want the adventure. My sister Manderly and I were talking about this very thing. "I think we imagine adventure to look like this major outward risk taking but I think it's taking a risk with our heart. Even if our life on the outside looks mundane still," I commented.
I imagined her nodding in agreement as she texted back, "I had really wanted it to be some outward risk, but I actually think it's connected. So much of my outward life is held back by my fears and lack of trusting the Lord to give me good things. I'm still waiting for the bottom to fall out."
I often live waiting for the bottom to fall out. Manderly and I talked about facing the truth, asking the questions, truly seeking, not being afraid to dance. Maybe that's what it looks like to really live. To step out, even when you're scared. To dance, even when you don't know the steps. To trust God in you.
I met up with some of my girls for lunch one afternoon. I said, "I think I've been waiting for permission to live, and the Lord is saying, 'Stop waiting for permission. I've given you permission. I've planted dreams and desires within you. Don't be afraid to walk in them.'"
I get so caught up in all the voices of other people telling me how to live. I get distracted by looking at other people's lives well lived and think mine needs to look like that.
I know God is trying to break that apart. In order to do that, He has to destroy this desire I have to be understood, to be accepted, to be approved of by others. I'm experiencing the freedom of that, but it's a tough habit to break. I can't really live if I'm too busy trying to spin all the plates. I have to lay down other people's perceptions, judgments, and opinions of my life.
I'm called to work out my own salvation. No one gets to work it out for me. I don't get to work out anyone else's.
I feel this overwhelming desire to use up the moments. To live. Because I want to.