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free to be me

growing up my brother and i used to fight something fierce.  i wanted so badly for his approval, his affection, and it eluded me.  i will never forget one crisp autumn morning, sitting on a bail of hay on my brothers ranch, his horses surrounding us in the foggy stillness.  he walked around me feeding the horses, in his muddy boots and cocky attitude, while my heart was literally breaking.  after a near fatal run-in with a broken heart i was crushed to my core.  wounds fresh and raw.  i looked at him with tears streaming down my face and said, “what do i do?” begging for tenderness.  i needed it so desperately.  he stopped, looked me directly in the eye and said: “in life, there are runners and chasers.  and you’re a chaser.”  and he walked away and left me sitting in the silence of the mist.  alone.  i won’t lie to you, it hurt.  fiercely.  but you know what?  it was the single most powerful sentence anyone has said to me in my entire life.  it changed me.  it gave me the motivation to reach down inside my soul and find my strength.  find my SELF.  and it has been the greatest gift.  it wasn’t a cheap shot (although it seriously seemed like it at the time).  it was truth, spoken the only way a brother knows how: in unfettered honesty, because he loved me.

fueled by my smug desire to prove my brother utterly wrong, 18 months later i finished my undergraduate degree and set off on a 7-week solo backpacking trip through germany, switzerland, italy, austria, holland and belgium.  no plan, no itinerary, no travel partner.  just me, a backpack, a eurorail pass, and a journal for the road.  and what a road it was.  i stopped chasing someone else.  someone else’s dream, someone else’s plan, someone else’s distraction.  and you know what i found on that ancient roman road?  i found a fighter.  a passionate pursuer of knowledge, a seeker of wisdom, and a follower of Christ.  so i guess in some ways maybe i am still a chaser, maybe i always will be.  but now i’m chasing MY dreams and my God.

sometimes someone can speak into our life and it just comes out all wrong.  their “love” or their truth can seem a little bit sideways…and then it catches up to us later down the road and we go…oh…  that WAS love.  that was love.  my brother and i now share a beautiful friendship; far beyond anything i ever imagined we would have.  but it isn’t because it came easy.  it isn’t because we see everything eye to eye.  i think its because we now know, and trust, that we have each other’s best interest at heart and we would do anything for the other.  and sometimes, that means speaking a harsh word or a blunt truth.  because at the end of this life, i hope that the people i surround myself with care enough to speak truth to me.  i pray they desire to make me sharper.  and i trust that they want the best for me and their words are to bring life, and freedom and truth.  not the truth of this world, but the only truth that matters.  the truth that we are children of God and there is a higher standard of living for those who truly believe.  i fall again and again.  but i pick myself back up and press on.  i will never have this all figured out, but i now know that chasing someone else’s dream is not living.  designing my life to fit into another’s is settling for something far less than what i was created for.  permitting someone to speak a harsh word when it’s meant for our good…inviting God into the empty places where doubt and fear reside…allows for Him to change us from the inside out.  mold us.

so if my brother’s wisdom is correct, and i think that it is, what are you?  a runner?  or a chaser?    do you allow someone to speak a word into your life?  i don’t think one alternative is better than the other.  it’s just how we handle relationships, conflict, how we handle LIFE.  it’s interesting to think about because, as i look back on my life, i definitely see patterns.  for most of my young life i was so busy chasing someone else that i didn’t even know what my dreams were!  it took a long time to get acquainted with me…get comfortable with me…and then, finally, really LIKE me.  and it’s a pretty cool place to be.  it’s free.  it’s free to be me.

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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Miette November 17, 2012, 3:15 pm

    WOW. You have given me a lot to think about today. This is such a beautifully written piece. Thank you!

    It makes me wonder about mistakes I have made in the past. There was a time when I was the runner, the one with the agenda for my life, and was unwavering in my pursuit of “the master plan”. Unfortunately, I ended up dragging my partner through major life decisions, which caused so much stress and resentment. There are also times when I have nearly drown in another’s plan and problems and lost myself in the process. I’m learning to find balance again (…why have I not mastered this by 40?? UGH!!), to walk that fine line of give and take. In other words, maybe through God and some introspection, we become whole and healthy enough to stand confidently on our own as individuals, and that is the best, most beautiful place from which to share ourselves with others.

    Thank you again! Have a blessed day!

  • Angie November 19, 2012, 6:05 pm

    I’ve given this some time to settle in. I think I’m both, a chaser first then a sprinter. I feel like I give all I have to others, I strive to be a really good friend. I WANT to be a really good friend, it may be one of my callings.
    I do chase for a while then I hit a limit I’m not sure what triggers it for me but when I hit it I’m done. Completely done with the chase. Good luck catching me now. This can be with a person or a situation or even a career.
    Ill always be nice but you can’t catch me. Call it self defense I guess.
    And as I look back at some really hard moments I now see that the running and the sprinting was the healthiest and the best part. It feels good to run sometimes. And that it OK.

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