Tuesday, November 1, 2011

You're my inspiration.

A couple of posts ago I asked, "What inspires you?"  Specifically, I was asking about artistic inspiration.  What gets your creative juices flowing?  What makes you want to (insert your art form here)?  We all have times where artistic inspiration is necessary to our well-being, or for the lucky ones, necessary to our means of living.  A great quote from Thomas Merton I found this week says, "‎Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time."  It's perfect definition of art. 

This time I'm not talking about inspiring creativity.  I'm talking about inspiring life.  Yes, that's right, life.  Quite a broad subject, I know, so I'll narrow it down... kind of. 

A couple of weeks ago we were lucky enough to travel to LA for a few days.  It was on short notice and mostly for business so not a lot of planning went into the trip.  One thing is for certain though, on any trip to LA we have a list things we must do:  Eat In-N-Out as much as possible (only 3 times this trip), eat as many donuts from Donut Hut in Burbank as possible (personally I ate 7!), go to Mosaic, and visit with the Green's.
Apple Fritter,
Old Fashioned & Powdered
Yum, Donut Hut!

We are fortunate enough to still have many wonderful friends in LA.  We do our best to connect with them when we go to California.  Somehow, though, there's always this anticipatory excitement to visit the Green's.  Now, we have known the Green's for a relatively short time, only a little over four years.  They are an incredibly amazing family of five who got to know us through some of the most confusing and tumultuous times in our lives.  Perhaps that is why we think so highly of them - they showed us love and support when few did and we are so grateful for them.  They are some of the most selfless people I've ever met.  I knew this, and yet on this trip, it seems this is the one lesson that was magnified for me. 

I'm always expectant when we know we are going to visit the Green's.  Let me clarify - expectant that I am going to discover something incredibly important. 

Like carrying a shovel and a map with a big X on it to the beach to dig up buried treasure, I carried in my overnight bag into the Green's and waited for that treasure chest of gold to pop open. 

Jewels and gold were flying everywhere!  Through super conversation we were given some excellent advice on some matters we had been struggling with.  Advice that was contrary to what we wanted to hear, but advice that we needed to hear.  I had filled up my little bag with jewels and stuffed it in my pocket.  Content! 

We ended up staying an extra day to offer a hand with some home projects.  Stuff we love to do and of course we were stoked to have another day to visit.  I'd sneak a peek at those brilliant gems before we fell asleep each night, thankful for the bounty.

The Green's are the kind of people who don't get put out.  This is hard for me to comprehend since I do enjoy my own time, my own space, my own everything.  Don’t we all?  It's the American way! 

They literally do for everyone and don't bat an eye about it.  I knew this about our friends, but this time their selflessness flashed at me like a neon sign in the black of night. 

Have you ever had a 19-year-old gladly give up her bedroom and exclaim, "Yay!" when you tell her you need it for one more night?  And mean it?  With all the joy and happiness in their heart?  Incredible!  I know teenagers (and adults) who get irritated when asked to scoot over on the couch so one could sit down.  This one was giving up her very newly remodeled room.  Some gold added to my booty.  Ching-ching!

In all the conversations I've had with friends about family I've never had one person be genuinely bummed when I tell them I don't spend much time with my sisters.  Usually, I get, "Well, you know how it is, people are busy.  I'm sure they are fine with it." or "Yeah, we'd all like to spend more time with family."  They all easily accept my excuses.  But my friend expressed something odd and out of the ordinary when I stated that fact.  She didn't lecture me or give me a guilt trip or anything of the sort, she just seemed like she genuinely cared that I didn't spend much time with them.  I didn't even want to attempt to give any excuses. 

These two things alone stuck with me.  I could mention a dozen more selfless things the Green's did in the two-and-a half short days we were there, but those two little things shone that spotlight on the selfishness in my life.

It took me several days wrestling with what I had learned (really, what I knew) about myself to come to the decision that I no longer want to live a life of selfishness and that I needed to do something about it, pronto.  I dug out a book with a quote that's haunted me for years and made a decision:  I do not want to live on the doorstep of hell.

"To consider persons and events and situations only in the light of their effect upon myself is to live on the doorstep of hell." Thomas Merton. 

This is perfectly paired with something said by my most favorite Person of all time, "Love your neighbor as yourself." 

I am not always going to succeed at this, I realize, but I am putting forth major effort and of course relying on God to help me.  He has given me the perfect example to follow which takes faith I sometimes struggle with.  But He has also given me many wonderful people I can touch and feel and physically see to inspire me.  People like the Green's who show me what He expects of me, how He loves me and how He loves others. 

I empty out that bag of gems and gold everyday.  I see the beauty of the lessons I learned in those couple of days.  Not only do I see sparkling jewels and brilliant gold, I see my reflection in the facets, marred and fractured.  A beautiful reminder of what I can be.

As I wander through this life, attempting to live it not for myself, I am inspired.

You're my inspiration. 

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