Here is an odd little bit of scripture I want to share with you, as inspired girls:
“Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live.” Isaiah 55: 2-3, NRSV
So… OK… obviously this is a timely message about food and dieting… that would make sense, right? I mean, look at any newsstand… magazines, of course, are in the business of telling us what to listen to…. All the ways we need fixing… But this is not, of course, about dieting… this is a message about how to kindle your already Girl Inspired “Kind Heart, Fierce Mind, Brave Spirit.” How to “listen, that you may live.”
Everyone here has an immense power that we don’t often talk about. It’s the power in the choice of what you listen to. And the choice is yours. And what do I mean by listen? It’s everything you pay attention to. Everything you take in, take seriously, allow yourself to be formed by. To be inspired by. To be discouraged… or encouraged… by.
This culture has a lot to say about what girls and women should listen to… we are bombarded. We cannot control the amount that comes at us, but we CAN choose what we listen to. What we take to heart… and what we protect ourselves from. What we disagree with… and what we are motivated by….
The women–and men–who inspire you… listen to them.
The friends who see the best in you, who hold out and articulate even more for you than you can see for yourself… listen to them.
The needs of others, of a hurting world, and the nudges you get about how you can, indeed, help… listen to them.
One little secret about the word “listening.” In the Bible, it has the same root as the word “obey.” Uh-oh. Not mindless obedience, but a conscious choice to maybe move your feet in the direction of what you hear. This is big. So “listening to your life” is not passive. Far from it. And neither are you. It means honoring what you hear, incarnating your God-given gifts, your promise, your uniqueness.
Many people, some very well meaning, will have an idea of what your life should look like. They already have a listening for it. They may even be in this room. Bless them: Parents, teachers, siblings, friends, bosses, spouses, coaches, ministers, and more. This is true at whatever age we are.
These people sometimes can listen us into amazing lives we could not have dreamt of. And sometimes they can’t see us clearly. And sometimes these are the same people. Listening to your life… and not having it be someone else’s… is complicated, God-given, lifelong work.
Another not so little secret about listening… we are pulled in so many directions to “listen” to so much, so widely, and often so wastefully. Every tweet, every post, every website… a huge and compelling and horizontal expanse of things and people, never-ending.
Not all bad, of course, we love these people. But save some time for the vertical listening… the quiet time when you listen deep within, to your voice, to the voice of God. Without distraction.
We “listen” with our whole lives, not just our ears. What we take in, what we attend to, where our sacred, limited time here goes, how we treat our bodies… these are all forms of listening, of manifesting, and the call is to be aware of these ways we listen, for better or for worse.
The Scripture again… “…eat what is good… Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live.”
If you listen to your life, what does that look like? Over time? For any of us, at any age? I would offer these ideas, these invitations:
- There are a lot of yous in you! Your gifts are many… you contain many possibilities, many dreams, many leanings and longings that will continue to reveal themselves over time. We reduce people, including ourselves, all too easily. God does not see it that way. God is always showing us something new, a new land, a new vision, a new life… even, especially, within the life we have now.
- One of my favorite psychologist writers said the goal of therapy is not to make us more healthy or “better”! It is to make us more eccentric… more our unique selves. That’s what good listening does… It lets you emerge… as you.
- “Listening so that we may live” also means that we will be surprised… surprised by our bravery, by what we say and do, by risks we decide to take, by stepping out despite fear. As the song “Brave” reminds, “Say what you want to say… let the words fall out… let the light in.”
When you “eat what is good,” it shows. It means you can listen with care to what others say about you or to you, separating the encouraging from the disparaging. It means you trust your gut, your intuition, and you pay attention to those deepest nudges from within.
And sometimes, most crucially, it means your ability to listen to and follow your “true north” gives someone else the courage to do the same. You become someone who can “listen” another into being. We are here to help midwife each other, over and over. We are not in this alone! You are especially not alone after todayJ
Girl Inspired will be a wonderful, ongoing community for cultivating an abundant life for each and every girl. Again, that is the work of a lifetime. The good news: You are never done, or too late, or left behind.
One of my favorite quotes is from Florida Scott-Maxwell, a writer, psychologist, playwright and suffragist who wrote the book this quote is from when she was 86 years old.
“You need to claim the events of your life to make yourself yours. When you truly possess all you have been and done, which may take some time, you are fierce with reality.”
Claiming and possessing all we are… is also a form of listening… one deep and close to the bone.
Scott-Maxwell also said: “My seventies were interesting and fairly serene, but my eighties are passionate.” Clearly a woman who knew how to listen, who knew where the “rich food” was, who knew she was never done listening to her depths.
Kind. Fierce. Brave. You already are these things. In the ceremony soon to come you will be claiming your names. Your uniqueness. Your inherent value. All that you are and are becoming.
Godspeed, dear girls and women. May all the days that are to come bless you, bless your spirits, and bless all the ways the world will be better because you are in it.
by Nina Frost, Spiritual Counselor