Part 3: Living from the Heart—There Is a Cost
Getting in touch with one’s truest self and desires and living from that place seems like an incredible invitation. There isn’t a person I know who does not want this for themselves and their loved ones. So why aren’t there more people walking around today filled up with joy and loving their lives? Because we live in a real world with real demands. If living from the heart becomes something added to our to-do list, it will rarely get accomplished because more pressing concerns will always present themselves. In order to live from the heart in a way that brings life transformation and joy, we must begin to look at the world through a filter of living from the heart first and foremost. We’ve got to give up some stuff to make time to get in touch with our heart’s desires and then give up some more stuff to have time to live those desires out. We have to say “no” to a great deal of important things in order to have the space to say “yes” to the things that make us come alive.
What has this looked like in my life? It has looked like sitting down and deciding what matters most to me and what brings joy into my days and being unwavering in making these things and people priorities over everything else. What matters to me and brings me the most joy in this season of life is my family. My three kids are young enough that they still need me and old enough that I understand this time with them is passing quickly. Being there for them, alongside my husband, is my number one. It has looked like sitting down and being honest and asking myself if my family is getting the first and best of my time or my leftover time because life’s demands already have my plate full.
The “no’s” that I have had to say have been much harder than I anticipated. No to a career (for now, not forever), no to that additional income, no to many volunteering opportunities, no to church during flu season, no to getting a new car, no to finishing our basement, no to responding in a timely manner to emails and texts and phone calls, no to some fun trips. In each of these offers, I have the option to say “yes” to someone or something that holds little weight in my life, knowing that it means saying “no” to my husband and kids. I am not willing to do that right now. Period.
Here is a perfect example from this week of living from my heart and how it has made life come alive for me. I have said no to any afternoon obligations this spring so I can be home. My husband and I have also said no to all extracurriculars for my oldest son who, at age 10, is burnt out from the pace and demands of his schedule. Earlier this week, my son and I took the dog for a walk after dinner. We started talking about the most embarrassing things we’ve ever done. We got to the usual turn-around point and were enjoying ourselves so much that we just kept walking.
When we finally got home, he asked me if I wanted to swing with him. He’s never asked that before. We walked to our little swing set and both sat down on swings. And that is when my big little guy opened up. He told me about what is really going on in his world, what he hears on the bus and on the playground, and what he makes of it. About how the kids treat each other and how they treat him and how hard it is sometimes. At one point, a moment I will never forget, he said, “Man, I can’t tell you how good it feels to get all this off my chest.” That moment felt like magic to me. It made every “no” I’ve said worth it to see my son—who can be closed and distant—open up.
That moment happened because we had nothing else to do. We made the time. Our time is the most precious thing we have. Nobody gets to choose how I spend my time but me, and there is nothing I would have preferred to do. Finishing the basement can wait. My son can’t.
Living from the heart and having time to do so has made all the difference in the world to me. It hasn’t made life any easier; in fact, sometimes I wonder if it has made things harder. But it is so rich and satisfying in moments on a swing set that I wouldn’t have it any other way.