Life Lesson #186 ` The Curious Life

"Be who you were BORN TO BE. Follow the call of your dreams, see what you were BORN TO SEE. Your MAGIC is more than it seems. " ~ Unknown

From the time I can remember my imagination has soared, taken me to places I could literally only dream of and filled my life with an unbound less creativity. I see what others can't see. I've never really ever thought inside the box. I'm the one in the corner, deep in thought, figuring out what we can do with the box instead. I was the girl with the tutu on top of her head. Not sure that really needs any further explanation there honestly. I'm both a risk taker and a tread carefully kind of gal. I've always been the nerdy, geeky wall flower, sitting with a notebook in her lap and a pen in her hand, humming softly, curiously watching the world move in slow motion around her. I pay attention to the smallest details, listening for what's not being said and capturing it all with the hidden lens inside of my soul, focusing in on the images around me through my heart. I am without doubt a creative soul. Everything I do, I do with love. Once my heart is involved, there's no holding me back. I move and breathe, explore and live through doors of curiosity, color, song and verse. I interpret, describing this world of ours through artistic expression, always with my soul and a deep passion, a wildfire I truly can't control once it's lit. Those who walk both within the seen and the unseen world of reality and imagination never lose their curiosity or wonder really. Some stuff it in a box, shove it under the bed, while others put it up on a shelf gazing over their shoulder at their curiosity every once in a while. Then for a smaller select few, like myself, we hold onto our curiosity wearing it around our necks like a cherished trinket, an heirloom. For these souls such as mine, we decided long ago come hell or high water to continue learning and growing from the wonder still inside us. And the reality is we all have this part of our soul. It comes down to one decision though! Do we feed or starve our curiosity? After all Socrates himself told us a long time ago, "Wonder is the beginning of wisdom." Least we forget God has imparted into each of our hearts, our minds and our souls a piece of Himself. These pieces are gifts, talents and seeds He's cultivated and planted inside of us. Truthfully,  if we'd only stop trying to un-align, transfer and deny ourselves what God's bestowed, we might actually see the world a little clearer. "Remember that your greatest talent is so much more powerful than your biggest fear."

When I write, I speak mostly from a life largely spent chasing curiosity, looking for the next clue and pursuing His calling on my life. I write not for my own benefit, but to serve His purpose through my life. My confidence is never in what I've done personally, but always in what God's done through me. These imagination, the curiosity continually running through my veins only serve as a compass, a map God has written my story upon. Brene Bown, speaks for my soul as best anyone can when she explains her own. "Creativity is the way I share my soul with the world." And if you are one of these souls or simply love a curious and creative soul then you understand how pure, how very complicated and many times, how absolutely misunderstood those who can see into and past the looking glass can be. Like Alice, I have never been normal so to speak. I don't pretend to be either. I really don't know how that would turn out for anyone involved anyway to be completely frank. And if you're going to ask; no, I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to be normal in any way, shape or form. I am not advocating madness here, however don't let anyone fool you. Just ust enough madness keeps life interesting. The late and talented Robin Williams knew this well, and he spoke of it too. "You are only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it." My parents understood this concept as well and as a little girl my imagination was never discouraged.  I was in fact encouraged to be curious, to color outside the lines, to dream big with just enough courage to see the truth hidden inside my own world of imagination. The Cheshire Cat, through the words of Lewis Carrol himself explains to Alice, "Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality." Now, I'm not saying we shouldn't have one foot in the real world, but that doesn't mean both have to always be planted right? The idea that reality should drown out our souls is a deal breaker in my book. My mom and dad, have always been my greatest fans. If I wasn't singing for them, I was mixing up lumpy, half baked cakes in my Easy Bake Oven. Daddy never once made a ruckus about it either. And though I cringed, closing my eyes as he bit in, my dad ate every last crumb. I can remember how precious our time together always was because my mom and dad not only made time for me, but for my creative, imaginative, sensitive and expressive soul.  In growing up the way I did, it wasn't unusual to find my parents sitting and coloring with me for hours. We'd paint, sing, write silly poems and play dress up all while enjoying crumpets made out of play dough and drinking tea with Wonder Woman, Cinderella and the Mad Hatter, of course. My parents gave me their world as my stage and for this gift I am eternally grateful. By the time I reached my 20's, was married and began having children of my own I had learned one of the greatest lessons one can ever learn. and one I have passed down to my own children. And that is this: It's perfectly OK to live a life the rest of the world doesn't always understand.

Certainly looking at our dear Alice, she was quite puzzled herself by the world around her. After all, it wasn't as straight forward as the world she was used to. Nothing was as it seemed, and everywhere she went she was forced to reflect on herself. This was the world she fell into, right? Or maybe she was drawn into it, not because her curiosity was a bad thing, but because she wasn't afraid of where it could take her. See, just as Ruben Chavez explains: We must "pay attention to the things you are naturally drawn to. They are often connected to your path, passions and purpose in life. Have the courage to follow them." And for Alice this was chasing after a white rabbit, with a pocket watch, down a hole and right into the world of Wonderland. She was driven by her curiosity, as we should, with a little more caution maybe, but driven all the same. This is the thing about imagination and curiosity. These are the secrets of a well -balanced, well-liked and amazingly life full of adventure and passion. You just got to pull your big girl britches up and go! Will there be risk, uncertainty? Will there be failures, sorrow and heartache? Yes, there will be all of those things and so much more. But there will also be beauty, success, possibilities, promise and joy. As Walt Disney once said, "Ideas come from curiosity." And this is exactly why God Himself didn't skip the curiosity pallet when He created us. 1 Peter 4:10 gives us instructions, clear as day. "God has given each of you a gift from His great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another." You can also look at 1Timothy 4:4, understanding everything God has created is good and shouldn't be neglected simply because others do not understand it. I personally believe this is why so many young people become church hurt, displaced and angry with a God who created them to be the inquisitive, unorthodox and the beautiful eccentric souls that they are. Sadly, from experience no less, I can tell you if I ran into this roundup and barrel racing today, it wouldn't be my first rodeo. Unfortunately instead of being encouraged to cultivate the seeds God Himself has planted, many find themselves on one side or the other of a wall meant to separate the chosen and the discounted within His church. If I had my druthers, I'd be handing out some sweet tea and a few invitations to a hallelujah come to Jesus meeting. But I'm not at all sure I'd even be let in, much less given a seat at my own meet and greet honestly. Those who speak for God, unfortunately don't always speak with His truth. So many times those who come willingly to serve, offering talents and gifts are simply turned away and dismissed because they don't fit our mold. The outcome is pretty predictable, I mean if folks begin droppin' like flies all around us, for crying out loud we gotta have a pretty good inclination we're next right? I'm telling you all this but I'm sure you already know it. Instead of being a place where all are welcomed, loved and accepted, God's house has become a place not of worship but of perfect, proudly displayed pageantry, smoke and lights, precisely timed productions and revolving doors. There's no time for the Spirit to move, to speak or to even call us further into God's presence. And when this happens the enemy wins. I can just hear him smugly shouting out ,"Fiddle Dee Dee" in triumph. I honestly just want to shout back myself, "Have you lost your ever livin'mind?" But the truth is despite what out mama's might think, as the body of Christ, with our hands, we jump the gun way too often. We forget to let the dust settle so we can see the whole picture. Instead, we shoot the messenger in the process. Painfully, this is how our young people fall away, pushed aside and into the waiting arms of a cruel world waiting for them to take a number and get in line. And why? Because we as "Believers" in Christ have spoken for Him, instead of allowing Him to speak for us. Those who came to a loving, forgiving Savior full of possibility and hope have been disillusioned by our own hands. As the church, I can't express this loud enough, we are to blame for this predicament. The loss of this generation is on our hands and the mind and body of Christ that we claim to be has had a hand in this. In the end, sadly those who came to us with such hope, wanting to serve, to be part of His church, part of the body are turning away from a God who not only loves them but wants nothing more than to see them live a full, curious and abundant life.

So what to do about all this if you yourself have been disregarded, rejected and dismissed by well meaning God loving people? Well, first off don't ever let anyone ever tell you you're not enough for God. Secondly Jesus says, come as you are. And third, well just keep in mind Jesus himself was not accepted in his own city, by his own people either. Most inspired folks aren't for that matter. And if Jesus, the Son of God was rejected by those who knew Him, then why should we expect any less within the church ourselves honestly? Personally, I've learned to just sit a spell first, simmer down even longer, stop worrying about the nonsense and let the apple cart sit where it is. No sense in upsetting it anyway. I have my cornbread and beans, and for the moment that's all I need. See I'm not concerned with who anyone else thinks I should be. I know who I am in Christ, who He's not only called me to be, but created me to be. I have been given a gift, an ability to write. I don't put pen to paper for anyone other than God, and myself. His hand moves mine, my pen is not driven by the world's hand, but by His alone. I speak the truth inside my heart, and I share every expressed word attempting to sort out my own soul. This creativity, this curiosity inside my heart is not based on where His gifts can take me or on what they can offer but solely on this faith He has placed in me. I do not believe in God because I was told to believe or expected to follow Him. I believe in Jesus because I have a personal relationship with Him. I have never followed, kicked at the tires of faith blindly simply because my parents did, or because they followed Him themselves. I don't profess His name because some church wants me to or some TV preacher says it's so. I follow and I profess Jesus Christ as my Savior for one reason and one alone...I have felt His mercy, His grace and His goodness in my life myself. See, what I know now, after some 44 years of kicking around at the tires of faith is this: Authenticity is everything, it's magnetic if you let God use you. All we have to do is stay focused on Him, not man, listen to His call, not the world's.  I've learned personally that some may never make it inside my curious little world, and never truly get to know me. For some, they just can't see past the oddities and curiosities, the weirdness that makes me strong, the vulnerability that makes me whole. But you know what? That's perfectly fine by me. God sees me, He knows my heart, He's foreseen my potential and He knows the path already set before me. This is the same for you as it is for me my friend, so I'm asking you now, what are you afraid of? Seriously, herding cats may be easier but sometimes we still have to wrangle 'em up anyway right? You have it in you, I promise. You just have to fish or cut bait, decide to step up on the mantle, walk through the mirror and jump believing your wings will grow on the way down. That's what Alice did, and honestly I'm starting to get the idea she wasn't just blindly led into Wonderland, but purposely driven there. And much as with Alice, we all have a secret world tucked away inside of us. Neil Gaiman describes this best. "Everybody has a secret world inside of them. I mean everybody. All the people in the world. I mean everybody --- no matter how dull and boring they are on the outside. Inside them they've all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds...not just one world, hundreds of them. Thousands, maybe." But this is truly the secret to living a creative, curious life, we have to be willing to be courageous enough to explore the universe God's created and brought to life inside each of us, individually.

And so again, as we wind closer to the end of today's life lesson I want to direct our attention back to Alice one more time. She's odd, we can't deny this. She has an imagination that's wild and a creative soul that never quite seems to stop being peculiar in many of the most wondrous ways, right? And yet, still we are drawn to her and this world she calls Wonderland. She reminds me of Janet M. Nelson's description here. "A young woman can be courageous enough to say: This is who I am, this is what I believe and this is what I want." Certainly, Alice has moments of uncertainty. Most of life is of this nature actually but still she continued marveling to herself as she moved through Wonderland, "Curiouser and Curiouser." I'm not sure any of us would have felt much different truly. But that didn't keep her from encountering each and every adventure this world had to offer her. Take the conversation of Alice with the Cheshire Cat for instance. Alice is quite upset here, not at all sure of her situation or the outcome at this point at all. "I don't want to go among mad people." Alice remarked. "Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat; "we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad." How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice. "You must be, " said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here." And came she did, willingly. But you see a bit of madness is good. It's a key, a means of opening up new doors and giving us new colors to see. I myself believe much as Aristotle once said, "No great mind ever existed without a touch of madness." See God has created us, made us in His image. We are His creation, His children, not His subjects. And meant to bring Him joy, pleasure and glory. Our lives are not to be spent as scared children; of our Father, but in His presence our lives should be spent dancing, singing and asking questions just as children do. We are made to be curious, to have imaginations. We are have been given free spirits, creative souls in order to express His goodness, and yes to see, explore and enjoy the vast beauty of this world He Himself created for us. Call it madness, call it artistic expression, a loud noise, outside the lines, odd, strange, creative, or curiosity, but never, not for one minute should you ever live without it. Look at Alice. In the end she finally understood the madness the Cheshire Cat was truly referring to. And it wasn't really such a bad thing after all now was it? When asked by the Hatter if Alice thought him mad, she affectionately explains, "You're mad. Bonkers. Off your head...but I'll tell you a secret...all the best people are."

And so the message we find here in Life Lesson #186 ~ The Curious Life is meant for everyone, to encourage you, to uplift you and to inspire the curious, and creative soul inside of you too. We're all curious, some a bit more than others, but curious all the same. Either way, "at every moment of our lives we all have one foot in a fairy tale and the other in the abyss." (Paulo Coelho) I guess it just comes down to if you're curious enough or afraid of the abyss in the end. If you're dismissed, passed over or quite honestly just ignored; in the future, just wave and smile and look on the bright side...this too shall pass. You know, just as God does, as sure as cornbread goes with greens that you can catch more flies with honey. So keep singing, keep drumming, keep writing, drawing, painting, exploring... just keep being you. And never, ever allow anyone to quiet your beautiful, loud and amazing soul. Logic is great, knowledge is important, an education necessary. But creativity, imagination and curiosity... ah my friend. These things are the building blocks of all three and our roadmap to the world and beyond.

"Around here we don't look backwards for very long...we keep moving forward. Opening up new doors and doing new things because we're curious...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." ~ Walt Disney



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