Living What You Love

“Part of growing up is declaring what you love.”

This isn’t the first time this blog has seen these words, this simple and holy phrase. But in case you missed it the last thousand times I’ve copied these words, I stole them from Shauna Niequist’s book, Bread and Wine. I also realize that this isn’t the first time I’ve talked about this book. I reference this book often because of the ways it shaped who I am today and because I love it. It’s sitting beside me as I write these words, and I can almost feel the memories and the stories and the profound insights this book gave me jump off the page and into my lap.

“Part of growing up is declaring what you love.”

A kind friend recently brought this phrase back to the front of my mind. He came to an old blog post and as we talked about writing and ministry, I was reminded of the words and phrases and sentences that make my heart beat a little faster.

“Part of growing up is declaring what you love.”

Today, though, this holy phrase seems incomplete. It seems like only a small step in the right direction because I have declared what I love, and yet I feel stuck.

I have declared my love for people and conversation, my love stories and inching closer to others through treasuring their stories. This is what I love. I love walking beside others; I love meeting them on their level and asking them to stand a little taller. I love community and connection and endless amounts of time sitting around a table. I love words. I love music and creativity and being part of a team. I love doing meaningful work. I love investing in people and processes and ideas that will bring about change.

”Part of growing up is declaring what you love.”

But this can’t be the end; it can’t.

“Part of growing up is declaring what you love.”

“Part of growing up is living what you love.”

Breathe in. Breathe out. Truth.

I’ve spent the last year talking about what I love.

I declare it. I proclaim it. I own it.

And then I fill my life with things that aren’t related to these God-given passions, loves, and desires. I’d like to believe that I’m not alone in this struggle, that as the hamster wheel of life spins a little faster, I’m not the only one who finds herself slouched on the couch at the end of the day watching Netflix instead of writing or reading or biking or being with people.

At the end of a busy day, I deem these loves unimportant or too difficult, too time consuming and too much energy. After a long day of work, my brain can’t think complete thoughts, let alone write complete thoughts. After interacting with people all day long, the last thing my heart and mind wants to do is sit with someone and have to be “on.” It’s too difficult. Netflix is much easier.

So I declare what I love and then shove the box of loves into an already dusty corner.

“Part of growing up is living what you love.”

I believe these loves were placed in me and your loves were placed in you by the Father. They are sacred gifts, holy and purposeful. They were placed there by a God with a much grander and majestic story than I could ever write. Perhaps part of growing as a disciple of Jesus Christ is declaring what we love and living what we love because they are holy and sacred gifts from the Father who has asked us to steward them.

It’s so simple that it almost seems ridiculous. Own it. Live it.

But what I’m finding is I’m much better at talking about, dreaming about, envisioning this reality where I actually live in these loves. I’m much better sitting and waiting instead of sprinting after what I know to be true.

Because living what I love is scary. It’s vulnerable. It’s risky. There is a chance of failure. Opening the door means I could learn that I’m not actually good at what I love.

It’s easier to simply declare.

And so I’m learning to lean into the discomfort and the uncertainty. I’m learning to take risks and to carve out space. I’m learning to nurture these loves like a growing flower. Water. Sunlight. Air. Feed it. Grow it. Live it. I’m learning to make conscious, intentional decisions to care for the gifts God has given me.

“Part of growing up is declaring what you love.” And most certaintly, part of growing up is living what you love.

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