After Patrick became self-employed, it wasn’t all easy, but he did begin to see how much of his life had been driven by the expectations of other people. This was a revelation, of sorts, which prompted him to start looking at the other areas of his life. Nearly everything he did was a result of him wanting to please people. He had been conditioned well, but something in his heart was changing. He started thinking, “What if I followed my heart more? What if I let my true self show through more? Why not let other people feel the ‘weight’ of who I really am?” Believing, as he did, that he was created in the image of God and that his heart was good, he began living from that central premise.
He and his wife un-plugged from everything that wasn’t giving them life, including most of their church “duties”, which had kept them way too busy and exhausted most of the time. This, in particular, wasn’t received with much understanding by his pastor and other Christians who were still caught up in the performance model of living. Patrick tried to explain to them what was going on, but it was like he was speaking a foreign language.
In many ways, he was. We Americans are conditioned from an early age to receive directions for nearly everything we do. Watch this TV show, wear these clothes, listen to this cool music if you want to fit in, etc. So many of us fear being different from the crowd. What Patrick finally understood was that being different is normal. Every man, woman and child is unique. We can never be ourselves by being the same as everyone else. The herd mentality is great for creating obedient workers and consumers to feed the retail product machine, but does nothing to nurture the hearts of real people who long to know what life is really about. Is this all there is? “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his posessions.” Sounds pretty un-American doesn’t it? Those words were spoken by Jesus over two thousand years ago, and have never been more true.
What if, instead of pursuing money and posessions everyone listened to what their hearts were saying? Where is life for you? Patrick found that the real life he had been seeking all along was in his heart from the beginning. By following his passions he came to a new understanding of what he had been created for. These days, Patrick is a different man. More joyful, happy, living life to the fullest and expressing the heart of Christ in everything he does. People can’t help but notice. Oh sure, he doesn’t always do what they want or expect, but they know what they see in him is real, and they respect it.
I don’t know if you can relate to any of Patrick’s story or not. I can and I know many other people who can too. It was intended as an example of how one person can become so bound by expectations and yet find freedom. We citizens of the modern world are slaves to many different things. In future blogs, I want to discuss some specific things that tie us up in ways we may not even recognize.
Until then, God bless. Listen to your heart.